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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Fernando Cabrera, the prolific singer-songwriter who brought one of the most original views to Uruguayan music

One of the most personal voices of River Plate musicthe Uruguayan singer and composer Fernando Cabrera, will present his latest album in Buenos Aires Simple, an album of impressionist aesthetics and delicate austerity. In Simplethe music sounds alive, without formulas and with a defined contemporaneity.

Simple It was a laid back record. I took your time to do it. I recorded it in a year and a half, going to the studio every two months and that’s how it was put together, “he says.

I recorded it alone, because I wanted to get out of the stress of schedules; I was walking with my instruments to a studio near my house. An album with few elements, although the title seems misleading to me, because I don’t feel it is simple”, said the artist during the interview with Clarín.

Cabrera will perform in Buenos Aires on Wednesday the 13th and Thursday the 14th, at 8:30 pm, at the Astros Theater accompanied by the multi-instrumentalist Diego Cotelo.

Fernando Cabrera live.

Fernando Cabrera live.

Released on December 31, 2020, Simple is a work with a clearly conceptual tone, not so much because of the themes of the songs, some of them conceived as fables, as is the case with the eagle of freedombut because of that very personal climate that Cabrera’s music runs through.

Ten compositions in which the artist sings, does choirs, plays guitars, harmonium, piano and a bit of percussion in an atmosphere of simplicity, “nothing overloaded”, as Cabrera himself defined it. Compositions of different moments of his career but with a single destiny, “to fend for themselves”.

Cabrera’s career

Ferdinand Cabrera.  Photo: Constance Niscovolos

Ferdinand Cabrera. Photo: Constance Niscovolos

Fernando Cabrera, born in Montevideo in December 1956, started with the trio MonTRESvideo (1977), with whom he released an album of the same name in 1981; then he was part of the quintet Baldío (1982) and in 1984 he began his solo career with the release of the wind in the face.

He released 17 albums, including the historic Matthew and Cabrera (1987) and 9 compilations. A prolific artist who brought one of the most original views to Uruguayan music.

His music stands out for a personal tension between the singing, of a subdued glow, and an almost minimalist accompaniment that give the songs a particular atmosphere.

-How do you think the relationship between text and music?

-I don’t think so. It arises in a mysterious way and, precisely for this reason, one can fear that one day that link will not happen. The absence of this link can even lead to a recurrence. Very few have been spared that criticism. Picasso and Miles Davis were recycled and innovative, although they can also become stereotypes of change. Now, it is true that once an artist finds his tools, his style, the way he feels comfortable, he continues to develop that way of creating.

-In a previous interview you pointed out that you took that way of “spoken song” from Gardel, Tita Merello and Goyeneche. How was that process?

-At some point, a few years ago, I came to this conclusion: when we speak we do it automatically, we do not think about the emphasis or if I am going to upload this sentence so that it becomes a question. Everything runs smoothly and automatically. Well, I seek to sing without thinking, like when one speaks, to sing with the same naturalness with which we speak. I don’t know if I can do it, but I try.

“I had no endorsements”

Fernando Cabrera live, 2016. Press photo

Fernando Cabrera live, 2016. Press photo

-When I think about the place you occupy in Uruguayan music, I feel that you came to it without endorsements, that is, without the support of other artists. Do you feel that way?

-I had no endorsements; I think that the people who approached my music found that there was a work behind it. Now what I did have was support, especially in my beginnings; people who believed in me, who supported me. An acquaintance put me in contact with someone from a theater, a musician passed me the name so that I could see someone from a record company, and that’s how a path opened up for me. But this place where I am today I think has to do with the flow of my work.

-In the conservatory you thought about being an arranger. How was that process of wanting to be a solo arranger?

-Already before the conservatory I had the impulse to be an arranger. A friend, a neighborhood pianist, told me that he had to enter the university conservatory and he prepared me in harmony studies; I entered the composition career with the idea of ​​being an arranger. It never crossed my mind to have a future as a songwriter, or to be a solo artist. I was 17 or 18 years old, I studied for two and a half years and left to continue studying with private teachers.

At the conservatory I met a generation of very good musicians. One of those companions was Jorge Lazaroff (1950-1989), a great musician, founder of Los Que Iban Cantando, and in those free hours that we once had I sang two songs that I had made for a long time. He listened to them and he told me “Stop fucking around being an arranger, you have to dedicate yourself to the song”, a comment that gave me a lot of control.

At the time he invited me to a rehearsal of that group he was forming and I got so excited that I left there and started thinking about forming a group, which was MonTRESvideo, and I started as a composer. That was a click in my story: stop thinking about instrumental music and start making songs.

-With your training, did you think about taking your songs to an orchestral field?

-Yes. I thought about it and on occasion it happened, but it doesn’t excite me anymore. Once I received an invitation from the Montevideo Symphonic Band and we did a whole concert, about ten or twelve songs arranged for a symphony with me as soloist, singing with electric guitar, but I don’t know what to tell you. We did a small tour of Montevideo and I would say that it helped me, there were rehearsals, arrangements, but in the end I feel that my songs are not made for that. A question of language, it is not there.

A memory

Ferdinand Cabrera.  Photo: Constance Niscovolos

Ferdinand Cabrera. Photo: Constance Niscovolos

“In fact, I made instrumental music. I wrote for 19 plays, although I haven’t done it for a few years now, and for four or five films. In Bolivia, for example, I wrote for an orchestra of native instruments treated with a language of contemporary music and again, a mistake I made was to accept after a lot of resistance to write a symphonic work for the Sodre Auditorium Orchestra, about 20 years ago. The director was a friend of mine from the conservatory and he insisted so much that at In the end I accepted; I locked myself up for six months to write a work of about 10 minutes, but I will not do it again, “says Cabrera.

-In your lyrics there are many images and circumstances in which you refer to your childhood and adolescence. How was that time?

All my life I was interested in talking about these issues. What happened to someone in their childhood is a treasure that we all have, that we all carry, no matter how much one has had a more or less happy childhood, there are always isolated moments of fullness. I had a very nice childhood with brothers and friends, although I was a very shy and timid child.

Then came adolescence, between 12 and 15, the time of the Liceo, where I lived a party. It was the happiest stage of my life; I had left childhood and entered that world with all the possibilities, a time of fun, without responsibilities.

surrounded by music

The cover of Fernando Cabrera’s latest work, “Simple”.

-What is your attitude towards music? Do you feel that it has been changing over time, and if so, to where?

-It has changed, in this the saturation affects a bit (why not say it) due to the fact of having spent decades and decades involved, almost obsessively with music, from adolescence until a few years ago. He was always aware of the news, he took classes, he went to concerts, he went to a meeting and they talked about music, he put on music; everything was music until a few years ago.

I no longer feel so necessary to be so aware of everything, I am not listening to music all the time, I do not go to concerts, I live in a more relaxed way. Anyway, I don’t know why in this moment of humanity music is present everywhere, we live surrounded by music; in a bar, in a restaurant, in the supermarket, in the store, in the taxi. Whether you like it or not, you are surrounded by music.

-What do you listen to when you play music?

-The only thing I listen to is Creole music and tango. Well, I include tango in Creole music. I’m interested in that music, very old music, for example, Gardel’s guitars; I am very interested in those repertoires.

-You said that you liked your music over time. What do you find now that you couldn’t find before?

-Before it was more tense; my way of playing the guitar, my way of placing my voice, the melodies that he composed, in short. The tension in music seems fine to me, I feel it is necessary, but I was very tense and I think that now it has gone down. There is tension but in a different way, more harmonious, more organic, much less than when I was 20 years old. I know that tension is still there and if I want I can use it, but I can also be more relaxed.

some milestones

A historical photo from its beginnings in 2004.

A historical photo from its beginnings in 2004.

-If you had to choose some milestones in your career, what would they be?

-I remember my beginning, every beginning has something to jump into the water. I didn’t start out as a solo artist; With two friends I met in the choral environment, I founded a trio, MonTRESvideo. It was with that group that I began to show my own compositions. That moment was kind of a mark for me.

Then there was a moment in my life, which lasted almost a year and a half, which was when I lived in Bolivia, in 1987 and ’88, where I did many things and they were very different from what I was doing. It was a great learning. I had contact with other music, other musicians, I made arrangements, I accompanied singers, I made my own band, I performed as a soloist; I composed many songs and wrote for an orchestra.

Further back in time, in 2002 there was a great economic debacle in Uruguay, with a bank run, job losses, closures, a very dramatic moment. At that time I had the opportunity to record a new album called Liveliness. I thought: the way things are in the country and in the entertainment environment, maybe this is my last album, and since it’s going to be the last I’m going to break my heart with the arrangements, I’m going to do my best to get a good image. I invited a number of colleagues, I thought about arrangements and the album turned out good and that was the reason: I thought it was the last one. (Serie)

Information: Fernando Cabrera will present Simple, on Wednesday, July 13 and Thursday, July 14, at the Astros Theater, Corrientes 746. Tickets from $3000 through EntradaUno.com

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Reference from clarin www.clarin.com

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