Tony Ávila, from his Universo to Cuba

Tony Ávila, from his Universo to Cuba
Fecha de publicación: 
28 October 2022
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He was about to start his live concert at the gathering La Pupila Afilada, when we made the most out of our chances and got updated on the work of this troubadour from Cardenas who invites us to think and dance and the same time.

—The last time we talked, you were working on a new CD with Bis Music Record Label. How is that musical album going?

—"We managed to do Universo. It is a 16-songs CD. I think it's a musical album that people are going to like as it's very varied. There are no guest singers. In this case, let's say that I gave myself the opportunity to make an album singing all the songs myself, but there are several guest musicians like Adel González and Hernán Cortés on percussion, among other musicians and I am grateful to all for their quality contribution they gave to the CD. According to the record label, it will be released in January, which is very good news for me. Then we want, hopefully, to organize a national tour to launch it.

—What is new in Universo?

—There is already a new format, which is being implemented live and which appears on the album. I incorporated, for example, keyboard, violin, and that sound is going to be present on the CD. There is a twist there that I think people are going to like, but it’s me, Tony Ávila; let's say enriched, benefited by these instruments I previously mentioned and the talent of the musicians. This is the first album that we have produced collectively. That is, my previous albums always had a producer, who was Lino Lores; in this case, there is a lot of collective work.

—Can we enjoy guarachas here in Universo as well?

— “Let's say that equation is present. I don't give up guaracha, I think it's precisely what has made me popular in Cuba and abroad. Later, that door opened paths and steps to other musical genres that I also write, but basically there is guaracha on the album, there is a lot of fusion. On a literary level, the public can listen to the subjects I usually address, which I can divide into perhaps three: the social song, the love song and the guaracha, which is meant for dancing, but also for making us all think. So the album is a kind of reflection, an invitation to thinking, to search, while going through different genres. We can find kizomba, guaguancó, son, Afro music, there are a lot of things that come together there.

—Are you satisfied with the CD?

—Yes. We really enjoy working in the studio. On behalf of Bis Music, José Manuel is the producer. I tell him: Jose, I'm going to throw you a fastball, take it and turn it into a strike. We already had all the music done, he received all the work and brought it to a successful conclusion. It was wonderful to work with Jose, and I think that good spirit passed on to the album so it turned out to be a happy album, musically joyful and successful. I hope, I wish and I believe that our public will like it, and it will possibly reach other kinds of public as well. There is a song — for instance — entitled El peso Cubano, which belongs to the timba genre.

—Can you tell us something about the songs that are part of the album?

—I'll tell you that version two of La choza is coming, which is La mocha, de Chicha y de Chacho. There is a song dedicated to the Cuban peso, let's say it is an apology for the Cuban peso in context...

—Always close to social questions...

—I have always had a halo of being a slightly irreverent, anti-establishment troubadour, and I still am, because it is my way of expressing thoughts within the context of my country. It’s my way to contribute to my country because I believe that society requires to be always put in the spotlight, so we do not become overconfident. There are songs like that on the album, like Cubas, for example, which portrays the many existing Cubas within Cuba, an attempt to "photograph" many of those Cubas within the nation that we do not like sometimes.

“Of course, the first condition, to me, is respect. I respect the diversity surrounding me, the context in which I write my songs, and above all, I do not believe my truth is to be taken for granted. These are premises that I have very clear.”

—Will they be like «sequels» of your own training?

—My training is Marxism-Leninism and History, and I learned since I started studying my career, since I chose it, that I was studying a career that was aimed at the ideology we defend, the society we build and the pillars supporting that society and the socialist project, then, if you go to dialectics as a method then change — as a way of seeing life and the world — is essential.

“Songs have been a channel through which I express my thoughts. One day I understood that I didn't have to be afraid or ask myself: what will they think of this song? I live in a free country, I am going to exercise that freedom that I have to express myself, but with respect and understanding of the historical moment. I have my feet on the ground and I know the responsibility that comes with saying.”

—What projects are you busy with at the moment?

—Well, we already talked about Universo. I have another album with Colibrí Record Label called A quien pueda interesar. It's a solo album that's going into recording right now. The guests are all from Cárdenas, even the art on the album is by a painter from Cardenas, the words are by a writer from Cardenas… Both CDs are going to be released more or less at the same time, but they are two different things.

“There is, in addition, a tribute to Nicolás Guillén that we are about to record. We are checking budgets. It will be with troubadours from around the country: Guillen’s poems set to music, we are presenting it to Bis Music. And the next album with my group is already in my sights too. It won't take long to start working on it. It's going to be an CD —and I haven't said this until now, I'll tell you in advance— purely danceable, we're going to work on some of my best-known songs in a danceable orchestra format and there are going to be national and international guests. We want to do it with Bis…, which is the record label with which I have worked the most and, in some way, it will also be a tribute to the 30 years of that record label.”

—What does Cuba mean to Tony Ávila?

—Cuba is everything to me. If I start talking now, I know I'm going to ramble and get tangled up wanting to get philosophical and too erudite in what I'm going to say, so that it remains forever and essentially, Cuba is everything to me. As simple as that.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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