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Estructura: Interview with David Maman

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    Posted: January 23 2023 at 00:52

Estructura: Interview with David Maman (by George Rossolatos)

GR: When did Estructura officially form and what was the original line-up? What changes were made to the original line-up throughout      Estructura’s different progressive periods?

DM: Estructura formed in 1975, playing Brazilian music. The original line-up consisted of Maria Eugenia Ciliberto (Guitar/Vocals), Antonio Rassi (Guitar/Vocals), Walter De Joung (Keyboard), Walton De Joung (Drums), Mercedes Godoy (Vocals), Andreina Lopez Mendez (Vocals). In 1976, the new line-up consisted of Maria Eugenia Ciliberto (Guitar/Vocals), Antonio Rassi (Lead Guitar/Vocals), David Maman (Keyboard/Vocals), Domenico Prioretti (Drums/Vocals), Agni Mogollon (Bass/Vocals), Marisela Perez (Lead Vocals), Walton De Joung (Percussion).

GR: Mas Alla de Tu Mente is the first progressive album that was released in Venezuela at a time when the genre was little known among local music fans. Can you canvass the sociohistorical context at that time, the dominant    music genres and the circumstances that drove you to the selection of this genre as your main musical enclave?

DM: The music we played was different to the music that was played in the radio and   concerts. Although rock bands were not popular in Venezuela at that time, it became our sound. We were sending a message about a different world through youthful eyes and sound.

GR: What were your main influences at the time you recorded your first 2 albums?

DM: I was trained in classical music. In high school I was listening to different musical styles such   as Rick Wakeman, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Genesis, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Larry Carlton, to mention a few.

GR: Mas Alla de Tu Mente is a concept album. Can you guide us through the main themes that permeate its conceptual fabric?

DM: The meaning of the name “Mas Alla de Tu Mente” is “Beyond Your Imagination”. We wanted a place that allowed us to dream outside of our daily life. The beginning of the story describes our departure from our planet in search of a different universe, our own imagination. The music reflects the power it took to depart from Earth. Once we arrived at our   destination, it was a beautiful and peaceful place, where people only knew Love, Compassion  and Generosity. We met the inhabitants who showed us the way we should coexist with each other and with nature. After spending time on this place we were ready to come back and bring with us what we learned. “Remember your mission is to spread Love, if you look inside yourself, you will find it”.

GR: Why did the group disband after 2 phenomenal albums?

DM: While being a musician, I was accepted to study Architecture and Urban Planning in Israel, so I decided to go to Israel and become an Architect. The band did not continue    after that.

GR: Was Estructura recognized outside of their homeland while being active to the same degree that they are recognized today in the   global progressive establishment?

DM: At that time there was not much Venezuelan music played elsewhere.

GR: What sort of career paths did the band members pursue after  its dissolution? Do you still maintain contact with each other?

DM: After the dissolution of the band, the members continued in different directions. Maria Eugenia Ciliberto continued playing and works in advertising. Antonio Rassi formed several bands, “Etzal”, “Faranheight”, and works in advertising. Agni Mogollon continued playing music, formed “Gina & Agni”, and later on moved to the United States. Maricela Perez continued singing and recording, unfortunately she passed away. Domenico Prioretti became an architect and moved to the United States. Walton De Joung moved to Curasao. David Maman, after graduating from Architectural School in Israel, moved to Los Angeles where he established his Architectural Firm.

GR: David, you were the main composer of Estructura’s songs. Can   you share with us details about the compositional process you followed?

DM: Maria Eugenia created the story, wrote the lyrics and I composed the music. Sometimes I received the lyrics over the phone, and an hour later I would play the melody I had just composed. It was a beautiful collaboration. After that, we would hold weekly rehearsals where each member would contribute to the final arrangement.

GR: Share with us some of the most memorable moments from your  early period live shows. What was the largest audience in front of which you performed, when and where? How do live audiences compare  between the 70s and nowadays?

DM: At that time, there were not many rock bands in Venezuela. In 1976, a decree was issued by the government that required radio stations to play a song by a Venezuelan artist for every foreign song. This is how our music begun to be heard. In 1977, we were invited to play with the band “Meco” (Star Wars) in the largest stadium in Venezuela “El Poliedro de Caracas”. We played in several stadiums in different cities. Since our music was not typical   Latin Music, younger audiences were very excited to hear a different progressive style.

GR: Estructura’s live shows are reputed to be full-fledged theatrical performances, also featuring a choir. It is a real shame that no footage exists from those memorable shows. Can you describe to us what   types of arts were blended with your music on stage? Were you influenced by operatic performances in your approach to staging live shows?

DM: The story of “Mas Alla de Tu Mente” included the music with lyrics, instrumentals, and a narrator. It was not a song-by-song concert, but a whole story that allowed us to retain the attention of the audience throughout the entire concert. We had the opportunity of including a chorus as part of the first album and in some concerts.


GR: How difficult was it back then to release progressive albums in Venezuela?


DM: It was not very common to play rock at that time. We were lucky to be  accepted by the public.


GR: What sort of technical constraints did you face when you were recording your debut album that could be easily managed with today’s  technology?

DM: Our first album, “Mas Alla de Tu Mente”, was recorded in Larrain studios, in 4 channels. The recording was difficult, as we recorded in 3 channels and then had to transfer all 3 channels into the 4th channel, and then we had 3 extra channels to record, and so on until all the instruments had been recorded. The quality of the sound deteriorated after re-recording. The second album, Estructura, was recorded in the Estudio Del Este, in 16 channels, which allowed us more freedom and possibilities.

GR: Which progressive band mates would you name from Venezuela and abroad   in the 70s? Bands you toured with or used to rehearse in the same place? Were you acquainted with any of the seminal bands that are featured in PQR’s celebratory Prog Venezuela releases, that is, Aditus, Tempano and Equilibrio Vital? If yes, in what capacity and how would you describe your relations?

DM: Aditus, Tempano and Frank Quintero were some of the bands we met, listened to and shared stages.

GR: What sorts of cultural resources (books, artists, movies, folk myths) have been  influential in molding your individual artistic persona and vision?

DM: I listened to classical music in my youth. Later on, a childhood friend introduced me to all kinds of music, from Led Zeppelin, YES, Genesis, Rick Wakeman, Queen, Larry Carlton.

GR: What do you think about the contemporary scene and the proliferation of bands compared to the 70s when only a handful were in existence? Does the quality of contemporary musicianship compare to the scene’s forerunners or gems are getting scarcer to locate amidst the hype?

DM: The quality and level of musicianship has improved, but also the variety of the music genre which has made it more difficult to follow the type of music that I want to hear.

GR: What are your perceptions about the relationship between bands and contemporary fandom, in a social media dominated age where 1-2-1 relations may be formed between individual fans and bands? Does the effacement of the distance between fans and bands contribute in any manner to the loss of an artist’s aura and the role he may perform in a fan’s life? How would you describe the pros and cons with regard to   this matter?

DM: In the past, it was easier to relate to the artists, the writing, the music, the bands. A record was introduced to the world and then you would listen to the music in the radio and at concerts. You were not as familiar with the person who created the music. The artist was bigger than life. Holding a record in your hand, and being able to read the lyrics and look at the artist’s vision was what connected you with the music. I feel like today you know so much about   the artist personally, through social media, that the uniqueness, the essence of the artist is lost.

GR: Some of you have pursued parallel professional lives alongside your roles as musicians. How have you been managing your dual roles?

DM: I think that once you are involved in music, record songs and play on stage, you will always remember the joy it gave you. To be successful in any profession, you need to dedicate yourself completely. You always hope for a time that you can play again. Some of us played at different times and in various ways. While studying Architecture I was working as the musical director of a choir. I dedicated my professional career to Architecture, designing commercial and residential projects, specializing in hillside homes. Over the past 3 years, I have been able to fulfill a dream I always had, to connect with several musicians from Venezuela with whom I recorded several songs that I wrote in the past, currently playing on all streaming platforms and performing in smaller venues.
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