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Govea

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memowakeman View Drop Down
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    Posted: October 31 2011 at 18:38

 

I could interview Salvador Govea, leader of this wonderful Mexican trio, whose music is a fusion of symphonic prog, jazz and classical music. So far they have released a CD and a DVD, both entitled "Danza Urbana" 

Hope you all enjoy the interview, and why not, get Govea's music soon!

Guillermo: From general to specific, first of all tell me why choosing music?

 

Salvador Govea: Well, I was introduced to music since I was a kid, I studied music at eleven; and then with time you choose what move you the most, you choose if you want to do it only as a hobby, or if it is something actually serious. I studied Computing, but at the same time I was taking music sessions, there is a moment where you decide what your life will be about, no matter the obstacles. You have to do what you like, because if you do not enjoy it then it makes no sense at all. I remember those old clichés, “music will not give you money, it is not something worth it”, things you listen everyday but that at the same time give you strength. So after all you have to fight them, and do what you want to do.

 

But tell me how to fight those clichés, in this society where minorities have to suffer its context?

 

You have to be a professional, once you decide what to do you must take it seriously and believe in yourself, of course, you are allowed to have fun, but without losing the seriousness. You have to reach your goals, have a schedule, plan your rehearsal days and use them to actually rehearse, and not as a pretext of drinking a beer or doing some “less serious things”. With this professionalism you will obtain good cards, people will happily work with you, and of course your work will reach more people, which is something we would like.

 

Once you chose music, then tell us why choosing progressive rock, this loved/hated genre which is listened only by a few amount o people.

 

That was because progressive rock is what best fills the combination of my musical preferences. Since I was a kid I listened to a vast amount of music, going from Bethooven, Mozart, Russian composers, to Silvio Rodríguez, Inti-Illimani, etc. One day my elder brother arrived with an Emerson Lake and Palmer LP, at first I thought “what a crazy thing”, but later I couldn’t help but listening to it every single day. Actually, Keith Emerson was the main reason I left my classical guitar and preferred the piano. Then, with my brother’s friends I listened to Yes, King Crimson and more prog rock bands; I remember I loved listening to “Ritual” (the Yes song) while my classmates listened to Michael Jackson. That song made me dream and say “I hope I can compose something like this in the future”.

 

 

So how would you describe progressive rock?

 

It is a fusion genre. Nowadays a lot of people say they play fusion, sometimes they label themselves with peculiar adjectives. But well, progressive rock was a tendency that emerged from The Beatles, blending rock with folk rock, where lyrics had a true interesting meaning, not like “I have a new car or I chased a girl, etc.” (laughs), that folk element that we can appreciate with artists such as Joan Baez.  Also prog rock takes classical music as an important element, along with the jazz, and with all those influences you can make a structure, develop pieces, and put a rhythm, harmonies, nuances, and all that works at the service of music.

 

How would you link the art with music, I mean, literature, images, scenarios, etc., which is their connection?

 

Progressive rock bands were pioneers of using the multimedia experiences. All the colours in the stages, the illumination, some groups have even used actors as a visual element in their concerts. The cover art is also really important. It is about making a true and complete work of art, which is led by music, but perfectly complemented by visual art. Everything is crucial, from the design of the album, the name of the songs, the concept, everything makes a unity. On stage, it is pretty rich to have interdisciplinary elements.

 

With that explanation, can we say that progressive rock musicians are picky, demanding?

 

Yes, at least I am. We must be aware of every single detail, people sometimes don’t realize how difficult is to write a song, and how beautiful is to have a satisfactory result. Returning to the previous point, I could also say that marketing is also part of the game, because if you have a beautiful cover art, then more people could buy your album, you and I have bought albums with just looking to the cover, even without knowing the band. The visual part helps a lot actually, not only in that commercial thing, but because it can facilitate your listening experience, by understanding better their concept, that is why people love attending to concerts, because you can also appreciate the musician’s expressions, movements and feelings. Also with music you can create your own images, your own story.

 

Why do you think progressive rock is not so easy to listen, to dig, and why at least here in Mexico we always see the same 30 people at concerts, why not more?

 

There are a lot of facts. In the 70s and 80s when the genre was rising here, there was a little media support, in radio shows basically, but nowadays the diffusion is inexistent. We don’t have specialized magazines, and if one of them talks about King Crimson, they never mention the words “progressive rock”, and well, in TV we are not featured, not even in dreams. The worst is that some communicators and opinion leaders say that “you have to be mad to listen to prog rock”, and of course people believe them. This is a terrible problem that works as a wall between music and people. But it does not end here, another problem I would like to remark is that Mexican prog rock fans do not really support our local scene. An example was the last “Festival Progresión” with a wonderful line-up where you didn’t have to pay anything, the fans did not attend, and if they did, it was mainly to the Norwegian band. So if we are 150 people and in the festival only 10 arrive, it is really discouraging. Also, some musicians need to survive (economically speaking) so if they receive an offer from a pop artist they throw away their dreams and prefer the money it involves.

We have to look for better strategies.

 

Now please talk about Govea, how did you come up with the project, what’s behind it.

 

An historical context: In 1994 I was in my first progressive rock band, called Similares y Conexos, I played in the first album and then left the band. Later I had an experience with a great band called Metaconciencia, but I decided to step down because I felt I did not have anything to add, I did not find my way there. So then I went with my friends of Iconoclasta and played with them for four years, from 2001 to 2004.Then I decided to study, I took a composition course with Eugenio Toussaint, and since then I began to compose my own songs. Later I realized I cannot only compose them, but only play them.

 

In 2007 I went again with Víctor Baldovinos (Iconoclasta) and told him about a project I was planning to start, so he as a drummer, me in keyboards and Ernesto Mendoza in bass, formed the first steps of what Govea is right now. Back then we briefly had the name of Govea-Mendoza-Valdovinos, but the line-up was also brief, because after our first gig, Mendoza left the band. Then I auditioned several bass players, until we found in Luis Arturo Guerrero the perfect man for us. And by suggestion of Víctor, (and after he rejected my different name proposals) the name of the band was simply Govea. We composed, recorded and released “Danza Urbana” and nowadays we are working in a new material. As you know, Valdovinos left the band, but he is a key part of Govea.

 

How is your compositional process, what moves you, how do you start a piece?

 

The melody is for me the most important part. Once I have the melody, then I can start making the harmony, the rhythm and the other elements. It makes everything stronger, it links and joins the ideas, works as a guide. Sometimes rhythm and groove can be pretty good, but if there is not a melody, it fails. In bass for instance, I don’t like listening to the same note repeated every 4/4, I need it to have a melody, it also develops the musician’s creativity and gives the fanatics music with better quality.

 

About the topics, sometimes you have a lot of ideas depending of your experiences. It can be the simplest thing, for instance, if you just watched a somber film, you may have some ideas and two or three notes can be composed, with those notes you already have something to communicate and to follow. Sometimes I wake up with some ideas and I immediately go and write them.

I write a lot, but if I don’t like anything I delete it and start over again. I have to love it first, then I hope my musicians love it, and If they do, then we can expect fanatics appreciate it.

 

 

What will people listen in  “Danza Urbana”? Please give us a brief description.

 

Sounds from the 70s: mellotron, mini-moog, hammond, fender rhodes. I try to take that tradition, and I don’t deny I’ve been influenced by ELP, among others, but I would like to point out that they are only inspirational icons, we don’t copy them. In the album you will find high quality music, sounds of jazz, classical music, rock elements that together make that fusion style I talked earlier.

 

 

What about the songs’ titles?

 

That is one of the most difficult things I’ve done. Right now the songs I’ve composed for the upcoming album don’t really have a name, I recognized them by titles such as “song one” “the guitar riff piece”, “unfinished song” etc. In “Danza Urbana” they have to do with the structure of the city, “Danza Urbana” is dissonant, just like the city. The other titles are related with my experience as a musician, it is a concept about blending the genres, I mean, some people say you either choose rock, or classical music, black or white, but don’t let you choose about all the range of colors. What if I want to play both styles, and more styles fused into one, then I do it, that is why titles such as “Convergentes” or “Claroscuro” are about.

 

You’ve just released a DVD, please tell us about it.

 

We have already talked about the importance of the image, the visual side. So we had lots of ideas for videos and fortunately we found director Julio Salinas, who with his vision helped us reaching those concerns and ideas we already had. So we played with different elements, used diverse stages such as the roof of a building, in which you can see the city’s smog (which is part of the folklore), we recorded at the studio, and in other places. The result was a decent DVD which also works as homage to Víctor Valdovinos, who is featured in all the videos, in spite he is not in the band anymore. The inclusion of an interview was a good decision, David Cortés had already written a favorable review of our album, and then he kindly interviewed us. With that, we felt people who have the DVD can know much more about Govea and understand the band better.

 

Which are your future plans?

 

We are about to release our second album. I hope it will be out in next December, and make an introductory concert and even a press conference. In that album there will be less 70s elements, some reviewers think we only do retro-prog, but that’s a timbral issue. We will have a song that sounds like Mexico, with that folkish element that makes it recognizable. I also want to put more drums and bass solos. We will also take again a movement of Bernal Castillo’s Concertino (already taken for the first album), among other things.

 

Please give us your opinión about recent progressive rock bands.

 

I find a problem there, because nowadays we have a lot of talented musicians who have everything to succeed, the problem is that they are terrific in the execution, but they lack in the compositional side. For instance, some months ago I saw Stick Men, and people were more excited to listen to King Crimson covers instead of their own compositions, that is mainly because the style of Stick Men is very Crimsonian, I mean, they do not have their own style. Playing covers is not bad, actually we all start imitating our heroes, but with time you have to find your own voice. In spite of that, fortunately there are bands such as After Crying or Isildurs Bane that have amazed me, and I truly enjoy them.

 

Finally, which are your goals?

 

At short-term is to release the second album. Mid-term to perform live and have a tour in different schools and stages. Long-term to make a live DVD, and of course, to have in Govea a long-term project, I hope I have the health to continue with it for so many years.

 

Thanks!


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Post Options Post Options   Quote toroddfuglesteg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 01 2011 at 14:27

Excellent interview !!! Clap

Govea is a band I wanted to know more about and I will put in an order for their album tomorrow morning. 

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Post Options Post Options   Quote memowakeman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 06 2011 at 11:10
Cool Torodd, I am looking forward to your review!

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