Interview to Martin Buscaglia, Uruguay’s musical living legend

Ask anyone in music, those that really know music, about multi-instrumentalist Martin Buscaglia and you’ll likely hear stories of praise, amazement and wonder. The man is a musical living legend and part of a select group of artists from Uruguay performing at SXSW 2013 (Wed. Mar. 15, Speakeasy, 412 Congress Avenue, Austin, TX). His most recent recording, “El Pimiento Indomable,” is a gem of a project he created with Spanish legend, Kiko Veneno. We were able to speak with Buscaglia, over the phone, from his home in Montevideo, Uruguay, in the Pozitos neighborhood.

Gozamos: How did the idea for “El Pimiento Indomable” come about?

Martin Buscaglia: It’s a very peculiar recording. This gave me the opportunity to work with legendary artist Kiko Veneno who was responsible for starting the flamenco rock movement across America in the 70s. As an artist it’s an interesting concept because this meant working with someone from another country and from another generation. It was a mutual idea after having run into each other while touring. And of course this would only work if there was some sort of chemistry between us and there is. It also had to come about naturally once the idea sparked and it did. This flourished based on our friendship and the times we’ve performed together and it resulted in 12 songs which were composed in Uruguay, and recorded in Sevilla, Uruguay and Los Angeles.
Veneno and I are very similar, eclectic. We aren’t dedicated to playing a pure genre, you know? These are fusions of traditional, classic and modern sounds… tribal, candombe, andaluza, hip hop, rock, pop. These recordings are definitely a combination of the both of us.

Is this album available in the US?

Currently it’s not but we’re working on it. You can definitely find it online, though.

How does Uruguay manifest itself in your music?

It’s a curious thing. Beyond being a small place with only three million people surrounded by the geographically gigantic Brazil and Argentina, which seem to have devoured us culturally, I believe being in this position has created a sort of artistic rebellion. It has allowed our artists to create something altogether unique in order to stand out. Endeavors are based on the passion we have for music, art and culture, not based on riches or fame. Whoever decides to get into this understands the concept of doing it simply for the love of it. Uruguayan artists are creating something new with traditional folklore. I think it’s important to remember this, to stay connected to where we came from in order to move forward.

Also, there is more support toward artists from our country, including support from our government. Of course, those who produce the most usually get to travel the most and it’s great for pushing your music. But we live in the age of the internet so making sure your music gets out there isn’t as difficult as it used to be. Things are more accessible now. I’m also thankful I’m a musician who gets to play as much as I do.

You’ll be performing at SXSW. Festivals like this and LAMC in New York where we saw you for the first time, what do they mean to you as an artist?

The lovely part is staying in contact with other musicians and new audiences. There’s always someone out there who was actually waiting to see you, to hear your music. The exciting part is also playing to these new audiences who have no idea what you’re all about. They don’t know where you’re from, what your influences are… it’s like going to watch a movie and you know absolutely nothing about it. You’re going to be intrigued no matter what because you have no idea what to expect. This is divine to me, almost the ideal way of presenting my art to people.
The not so lovely part is not being able to play longer sets since they’re usually cut down to a few songs and obviously I’d love to be involved in more performances while at a festival. I also don’t like not being able to spend more time with fellow artists due to time restraints.

As an artist, what is the most important lesson you’ve learned thus far?

Ufff! Wow… it seems to me it’s the effect of the evolution of people, especially in music. It seems to manifest itself more visibly in music. In other art forms it’s hard to perceive what you went through as a human being… nobody knows what you went through, how you felt. With music you are instantly reciprocated by what the audience perceives. You have to give your audience everything. What you get in return from them is priceless.

It was just International Women’s Day… what do women mean to you?

They are magic. Many of them began these great movements and struggle for mobilization against violence and toward freedom. There are many issues still pending and it’s surprising that in this day and age we haven’t figured things out better and that women still have to fight for fair rights. I stand with and support them. Women are, without a doubt, supergods.

How can you not love this man?

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