Santiago Auserón (Zaragoza, 1954) is a bit of a peddler, a bit of a juggler, when he wants he can also be a storyteller and, if given space and time, he starts singing. Musician then. And, of course, and with no intention of offending either cats or walkers, he also barks. He is gentle, with rhythm and letting himself be loved, but he barks at the end. Juan Perro therefore. Seed of the sound It is proof of all the voices of an artist with thick skin and a long stride who mutates, vindicates and denies himself at every moment. It is also a documentary signed by Juanma V. Betancort where he (Auserón, the most modern, or Juan Perro, the most traditional) walks through Cuba, meets people, talks to them and, if necessary, sings a melody to them. Is a road moviebut it is also a careful sample of rhythms and memories which, in some way, culminates an old journey that began 40 years ago, and which, before being a film, was first an anthology of albums and then an anthology book. “I remember that with the first money I earned thanks to Radio Futura I paid for the flight to Cuba,” he says as he points out on a map the place where he stayed to live.
The documentary, which is being released now, was presented at the last edition of San Sebastián, and its original ambition was great. In his efforts to mix Cuba, Spain and New Orleans, Seed of the sound It was planned as a tour in which the Hispanic tradition flew to the Mississippi delta with a stop at the son, the son of the island. Originally, the idea was to tour Cuba from east to west, which is the trip made by the mambises, the insurgents who fought for independence. Then, between covid, chance and destiny, things stayed in the east, which is not in vain the original place of son. And there, the viewer finds cities like Yateras or Baracoathe first founded by the Spanish and “where the protosoneswhich are the skeleton of Cuban music,” says Auserón.
The film, in its own way, has a lot of vindication and a little anger. “Spain turned its back on its most precious colony in an incomprehensible way. As soon as there was nothing to scrape there from sugar, it passed. And that It meant an immense cultural loss“, he says and conspires against what he said: “I believe, however, that we have arrived in time to rescue her.” And it is there, in that vocation of recovery and even pride, where he lives. Seed of the sound, the movie and all of the above. “If I’m honest, everything is motivated by selfishness. That is, what I wanted was to have arguments that would allow me to delve deeper into the process of learning to sing in our language. And, in the process, remake the Afro-American heritage. I think which is important not always limited to rock and roll mimicry and its drifts,” he says.
For Auserón, the first thing is respect. There is transmission, contact, mixing and, if necessary, contamination, but all with deference to the other and decorum. “You cannot go in a colonialist plan, arrive, laminate and sell. You can’t do what Ry Cooder did in its Good viewWow,” he says just before dwelling on everything that is hospitable about son. “There is always a degree of appropriation, but it is a non-dominant appropriation. They have to be the ones to explain themselves“, he adds. And, indeed, the film is a compendium of hospitality and welcoming, warm explanations and, above all, with rhythm, which is what counts.
He who was a revolutionary with Radio Futura and then a revolutionary of his own revolution with Juan Perro is convinced that the moment of current music is complex enough not to support easy reading. “There is a transformation taking place in popular music accelerated by new technologies that has two sides. On the one hand, it has a threatening aspect because it is a direct attack on the neurons. It is an impoverishment that entails a cognitive regression. And I already feel express myself like that.” Pause. “But on the other hand, we must not lose sight of the fact that the rhythmic cell on which reggaeton works ad nauseam is the basic rhythmic cell of West Africa. It comes from blackness. Reggaeton spread from the nightclubs of Jamaica to the poor neighborhoods of Puerto Rico and Panama. There is a contamination that who knows what will end up in the future.”