Sunday, April 17, 2016

Chuss Laforet 13 Questions

Chuss Laforet is a composer and Spanish guitarist. She is born in Santiago de Compostela, Galiza, although she moves to Madrid when she is 7 years old. At this age she starts taking classical guitar lessons. At 14 she buys her first acoustic guitar, an instrument that she starts discovering and exploring on her own. It’s at this time that she starts her carer as a composer.

She grows up surrounded by all kinds of musical forms and influences. Most of her songs are written with alternate tunings. Her technique is similar to that of Michael Hedges, Eric Roche or Preston Reed. She cites these guitarists as her greatest influences, together with other musicians like Vicente Amigo, John Mayer, Ani Difranco, Path Metheny or Vicki Genfan.

In 2011 Chuss released her first album, ‘Stop Motion’, a contemporary instrumental music record, entirely performed with acoustic guitar. A precise rhythm and the subtle treatment of silences sustain each song, rousing an intriguing sense of weightlessness. Thus, an emotional, organic and sincere style emerges. The sound universe of Chuss Laforet immerses you in a landscape of compositions in which the technique is put to the service of the song’s content. Thanks to this performing ability, her music goes beyond the score to also transmits the sensitivity of a great story.

Which was the first and the last record you bought with your own money?

If I'm honest I can't remember my first CD or LP. I have always lived in the middle of a sea of music from everywhere and of every style. If I try to remember, I can see "Dilate" by Ani DiFranco, so I guess that was one of the first albums I bought. The last one was the vinyl of "Blue" by Joni Mitchell, who is one of my references. I bought the long-play because when an album is really good, I want it on vinyl. And "Blue" sounds even more sad and beautiful in LP, more poetic, and it tears your soul.

Which work of your own are you most surprised by, and why?

"Babylon", without a doubt. It's a song that appears on my next album and it captivates me every time I play it. Melodically it’s the song that I'm most proud of, it has many changes of melody and some arrangements that I really love. When I play it and I lose myself at that moment... you know, when it’s only me and this song... I think I’ll probably not compose anything as beautiful again in my life. Before "Babylon", something similar happened to me with "Puntos de Inflexión". I was also affected by that song.

What's the relevance of technique in music, in your opinion?

Technique is a very important part but I'd be lying if I said that it is the most relevant. Not for me. I'm interested in technique because it gives you resources to compose and gives voice to the "magic" that says what you feel, what hurts you and what fills you with light and color.

But there are wonderful themes (those that save your life) that really don't have a great technique behind them. Therefore, at the end I opted for the soul of the songs. Technique should be used in the composition in order to externalise it better. It never comes before the song, in my case it is always the opposite.

Why do you need music? Can we live without music?

Why do I need music? Because without it I would die. The beating of our hearts is music. From when we are in our mothers’ wombs, we live because we have music. We are music, the universe is music... Even in the silence there is music and it is our innermost essence. If I close my eyes, if you ask me to imagine the apocalypse, no doubt, it is a world without music. And it hurts… a lot. I don't want to even think about it...

How do you feel listening to your own music?

It depends on the occasion. I think there is a kind of music for every moment and my own music also has its time. If I hear it at the right time, I can get to enjoy it. But the truth is that I don't usually listen to my music for pleasure. I like getting lost in the music of others. I prefer to play my own and feel that time stops. However, I realise that there’s a time I have to listen to my music, which isn’t easy and can feel strange: when I finish the first recording of a theme. I don’t think there’s anything more complicated than evaluating yourself.

What’s your craziest project about?

"Más allá de Babia". When I play it I always think: "What was I thinking the day I made this up?" It is very difficult to play this song, because it has many changes. I started composing (and improvising its tuning) with a classical guitar. Later, to adapt it to the acoustic guitar I suffered a bit. (Lie, a lot)

What do you recall about your playing learning process?

More than a learning process, I remember all those times when I composed a theme. Everything you can feel when the music starts to flow. When you are surprised using a new technique to express something, and until then you hadn't used it in this way or you hadn't seen it used in that way. Learning comes bit by bit.

One day you discover that all your songs have something in common. You listen and know that you are the person behind them. However, that's not something you can learn suddenly. Since I was a child I preferred to discover and explore the guitar on my own, feeling free to do with it whatever I wanted. In this sense, I have always learnt a lot listening to music and watching others playing instruments other than the guitar.

What is your relationship with other art disciplines?

It's a relationship of sincere and mutual love. Environments in which different artistic disciplines dance the same tune together really move me. I have participated in many jam sessions of music and dance. I really love dance. I also participate in a lot of events of music and poetry. I recently set a poem to music, "El encabalgamiento" by Olvido Andújar, because when I heard her recite it I only heard the music. I have done soundtracks for theatre. I made the soundtrack of an illustrated book as a final project of my studies in Sound Production ("Wave" by Suzy Lee). It was an amazing experience. I always see (and hear) the music in painting. In my next album there's a song called Rayuela. It's about "how Dante structured his Divine Comedy" and its whole philosophy.

What would you enjoy most in an art work?

It is very difficult to explain. There are songs that are an authentic exquisiteness and they remain wandering around inside you with no explanation. Themes that are perfect for you, or make you feel incredible things don’t have to mean anything to other people. There are songs that mean a lot to me, are full of connotations and they say many things to me, but maybe they leave you cold. It is the most wonderful of all this, right?

Which living or dead artist would you like to collaborate with?

I'd love to collaborate with filmmakers because cinema has made me dream and saved my life many times. I said that I am fascinated with dance, so I would have loved working with Pina Bausch. I don't think there is anything better in the world to put music to dance. There are so many people that would be a dream to work with. Dead? Alive? For me each of them belongs to the world of the living, they are alive in me: Michael Hedges, Steve Tibbetts, Zakir Hussain, Eric Roche, Etran Finatawa, Debashish Bhattacharya, Chet Baker and, of course, Joni Mitchell.

Illustrations Francisco Gómez

What is some valuable advice that someone has given to you in the past?

One of my teachers always told me: The sound is in your fingers. Trust always in your ears. If you like how it sounds, go ahead.

What is the most recent musical experience that has attracted your attention?

I have a small addiction: to get instruments to be a little unfaithful to my guitar. I have recently bought a guembri. Its sound has attracted a lot of attention. And there I am, pulling out sounds that are pure magic.

What projects are you working on now and what does the future hold?

I have several projects. First of all, continuing to promote "Stop Motion", which is like my first born baby. In recent years I have been playing themes of this album in shows, full of landscapes. At the same time I have been working on the creation of a new special project that you will hear soon (I hope). It’s an EP called "Rayuela" with five very personal themes, lasting more than 5 minutes, from a very spiritual perspective. There's a lot of me in this work. I think the best way to meet a musician is not through his or her words, but the melodies. They never lie.

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