Felipe Pérez Santiago: “I Will Never Deny My Rock Bases”
Felipe Pérez Santiago is part of that generation of musicians who were opened the doors of mobility to be able to apply for scholarships and aspire to the possibility of studying abroad. He is a guitarist, composer and most of the time he is involved in countless projects.
One of them is Mal’Akh, a group that hibernates for now. Meanwhile, there has been time to register his work on a couple of albums ( Mantis , 2014; Formika, 2018), write for performers such as cellist Jeffrey Zeigler or settle work on records such as The contemporary tuba in Mexico (Zero Records, 2014).
In the field of rock, Pérez Santiago is known for having made the orchestral Rock arrangements in your symphonic language I and II ; but he works on so many projects at the same time that we decided to interview him.
Here the talk with Chords and disagreements.
On a previous occasion you commented that with Mal’Akh you discovered that there are no borders in music and the mixes work when working with serious musicians and wanting to make good music. Is that something you apply to the solo projects you have carried out?
Totally, but I wouldn’t call them solo projects. It is thanks to musicians who sometimes approach me, like the case of Jeffrey Zeigler, or I approach them, such as Todd Clouser or Vortex, an ensemble founded among many musicians. These are projects that I am doing all the time and that enrich me a lot, because besides Mal’Akh, my lifelong project, all these are very parents, since each one is with different musicians.
All these works that provoke me is a tremendous enrichment.
Mantis , one of your albums, is a project relatively outside the academic part. The first track , “Post War”, presents different sound elements of cultures that you bring together.
Mantis came out in 2014 and the idea was to compile my electronic work so far, the oldest composition is from 1999 and the most recent in 2014. There are tracksone hundred percent electronic such as “Jingle Hell” or “Der Nacttflug” or “Dance of Angels”, but most are collaborations with musicians like the one you mentioned is for violin and electronics, recorded by Bulgarian violinist Konstantin Tchakarov, who gave it to me He commissioned and premiered in 2001. It includes a play with the Dutch vocal quartet Egidius and two with Jeffrey Zeigler. I wanted to show my electronic work, the common thread is that all the works are with technology and electronic parts.
In Formika , another of your albums, the works are interpreted by the Metropolitan Camerata, Anacrusax, Ensamble Onix, but it is a more academic record. However, Mantis keeps resonances with the more formal academic music and Formika approaches avant-garde rock.
To progressive rock, haha. Formika is the same idea as Mantis, but in acoustic, chamber, orchestral music. The two have the common thread that I was born with the rock vein, I decided to take a more academic path because I wanted to expand my knowledge of music and felt that the way to learn as much as possible was to study the career of classical composition and the truth is , it opened up some possibilities that I haven’t finished exploring yet and I probably won’t finish exploring, but my vein, my natural style, my influences almost always come from progressive, avant-garde, experimental rock and from there I start to generate a passion for jazz, free jazz and I start to open my head to other styles of music, but I have never wanted to deny, nor will I deny my rock bases.
You are currently working on a project with Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).
Some of the most important minds on this planet are working in this institute, including its cofounder, Dr. Jill Tarter. This institute launched an artistic residency program with the premise that art and science should not be separated and called me, which is an honor because I am the only musician who is part of the SETI so far. I was invited to keep track of the golden disk [sent in the Voyager space probe] and to compose a work that represented humanity. However, it didn’t seem right that the work was mine, because I don’t represent humanity, just a small part of it; so we think about launching an appin which people from all over the world will be summoned to record 30 seconds of their voice, singing a song that represents them in their culture, traditions or the environment where they live. With these voices I will compose the “Earthling Simphony”, the first of many works that are going to be launched into space. When he manages to finish it, we will have a world premiere. First I thought of using an orchestra, but it represents Europe and if I thought of Tambuco it is because I have worked with them and the most primitive thing for the human being is their voice. The second way in which music began to be made was with the percussion that that primitivism represents, the rhythm unites all human beings, while an orchestra is not representative of humanity, but we do all understand the pulse and most of The music is based on a rhythm. [In the work, besides Tambuco,
Another of your recent projects is Vortex.
The project was to create and direct a contemporary music ensemble, but that was dedicated to making music for wider audiences. It was not an initiative entirely mine, was proposed by the violinist Leonardo Chávez and between him, Gerardo Aponte and I shaped it. It is an ensemble that in its formation is traditional (flute, saxophone, pine, percussion, violin, viola, cello and double bass and in some works I play the electric guitar), but we wanted its repertoire not to be traditional: playing music of the twentieth centuries and XXI, choose works that, we believe, can bring the audience closer to chamber music. Chamber music and especially contemporary music have many stigmas, some of them well earned; but for me music is communication and the public is accustomed to certain styles and certain formations; The common listener almost always hears music linked to electric instruments, but what happens if we approach that same audience with acoustic instruments? On September 6 we will musicalize a line of perfumes, take music to a sensory, olfactory level. As always, in the search you sometimes water it, sometimes you don’t.
What composers does Vortex include so far?
Steve Reich, Arvo Part, Andriessen, we make adaptations of Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, B 52’s, of different music of the world: sones Huastecos, Veracruz, tangos. The idea is to integrate as many cultures and styles as possible.
There are looks like that of Apocalíptica or Rodrigo and Gabriela who do that kind of readings with arrangements that strip music of its essence, what will Vortex do so that it doesn’t happen?
Before Ex Teresa [one of her most recent presentations] we did a concert with friends and there we presented “Immigrant Song” and a very metal friend told me that our version was much more aggressive than that of Led Zeppelin. We try not to lose that essence because the truth may later sound like Sanborn’s music. Yes, we want to respect the style, which does not fall into the classic tribute. We try to respect the original sound very much, but with our sound.
What will be the intention with this material?
Obviously we want to record, we want the sound to mature, because we have few concerts. What is going to be done with the perfumes, although it is a small work, is going to be recorded and will be our first experience in the studio.
Vó vortex submit to a INSTALLATI n sound-orod IFERA on 6 September at the L Gallery, Alfonso Reyes 16, Col. Condesa from 19:00 hrs.