Desliz / Slip: DJ Saul: “There will be an explosion of Cuban electronic music in the world”

DJ Saul: “There will be an explosion of Cuban electronic music in the world”



A Cuban-American DJ visits Cuba and discovers the local electronic music scene

Courtesy of The M-Asia
Saul Diaz (b. Miami, 1980) had never visited Cuba. For him, it was a "pending subject." He was born in Florida to a Cuban mother and Spanish father. But now, the island was a “hole" that it was time to fill.

DJ Saul trained and worked in the U.S. until he decided he move to China several years ago. He launched his first regular club in Miami in 2006, whichSpin magazine described as “one of America’s hottest parties,” and he played for the Miami electronica event Poplife. In China, Saul is the resident DJ at PUNK, one of the most respected clubs in Beijing. In 2009, he was named “Best DJ” by Time Out Beijing, and “Best Beijing DJ” by City Weekends Editor Choice in 2011.

In Havana, Saul stayed in a casa particular de alquiler—a private house for rent—to get in touch with the Cuban lifestyle. He visited and photographed the building his paternal grandfather built during the years of the Republic. And of course, he was interested in a firsthand exchange with Cuban DJs of the National Laboratory of Electroacoustic Music (EML), an institute that supports the most advanced exponents of this music in Cuba. Above all, he participated as a special guest in four electronic music concerts presented by Cuban DJs Iván Lejardi and Obi Reitt with live visual support by OSVJ. In the largest concert, in Villalón Park, he played a remix of “Guantanamera” created by a DJ friend, which took the young audience by storm.

While he was in Havana, Cuban Art News had a conversation with DJ Saul about his impressions of Cuban electronic music.

What do you think of Cuba?

Ah, I´m falling in love with Cuba.

What did you think of the concerts, and how Cuban audiences responded to your work?
There was dramatic energy. The Cuban people have an outstanding ability to understand music, and that’s clear in how they respond to it. I mean, they really know to feel both the music and its rhythm. They are amazing people.

You have an unusual way of performing. Unlike most DJs, who don’t move much from their machines, during your presentation you move around the stage, dance, talk to people, and take photos. How do you manage it?
I've been playing for 11 years now, so I know how to get ready quickly. I can mix tracks fast, and though I sometimes make some mistakes, I usually do it well and very fast. When I'm on stage, I like to move around because I love music. The music moves me. I used to dance before playing music—I was a break dancer.

What do you think of the Cuban electronic music you have heard so far?
It´s amazing. I’ve heard a lot of bad music, and I've met a lot of musicians who think they’re much better than they really are. So my expectations are always low. But what I´ve heard here shocked me. It’s professional, high-level electronic music production. I was very impressed.

What caught your attention?
Well, everything I learned in the Laboratory has impressed me. The problem is that I don’t remember the exact names.

What do you find special in Cuban electronic music?
I’m always interested in how people listen and start producing music and hear things differently. I would like to look into the future and see where the Cuban music is heading, because look—Latin music, salsa, and Cuban music are highly respected worldwide, and the music is widely used, especially when doing the house style. I would like to see Cubans playing this music—to see how Cubans interpret this music, with that ability they have for music, and begin to put into music. I think Cuban productions are reaching that level. And it will be very interesting. There will be an explosion of Cuban music in the next two or three years, especially house music—dance music.

What if that music is accompanied by traditional Cuban rhythms?
It would be great. In Miami, there’s a group like that. They do a night called Fuácata: it´s about blending Latin and Cuban music with electronic music. They have done it well, but imagine a Cuban group there, exploring all its potential at full speed. The possibilities are endless.

What do you think about Cuban DJs?
They are very good, with an incredible musical knowledge, considering the difficulty of getting music. It's awesome. We see that—they do love music, and therefore they do it.

What does the world know about Cuban electronic music, at least from your experience?
Actually, the world doesn’t know much about it. Traditional Cuban music is widely used, but electronic music is not well known.

Where would you place Cuban electronic music on the list of this musical genre worldwide?
It´s very, very close to the top. As I say, in one or two years there will be an explosion of Cuban electronic music worldwide.

Do you think electronic music should be completely universal, or should it retain some of the traditional features of the place it comes from?
Both, to be honest. I believe that music should be free and accessible to everyone. But we should keep in mind that what makes music prestigious is to retain that [regional sensibility].

Coming from Miami, I can tell you there is a musical style called Miami Base. It’s based in Miami, but it’s been played throughout the world. So I think electronic music should have both things. The emergence of music in a certain place does not mean it can't be done well elsewhere. The same has happened with funk from Brazil, which has been around the world in a terrible manner. There’s a German who makes some of the best Brazilian funk. Imagine. So music should be for everyone. That's how music grows. And there will always be regional music. That will always exist, in my opinion.

Carlos Eduardo Maristany Castro (b. Havana, 1984). Graduated from the University of Havana Communication School. He has also completed professional studies in acting, speech and filmmaking. Member of the Union of Cuban Journalists (UPEC) he has received several national journalism awards. Belongs to the Hermanos Saiz Association (AHS) of young Cuban artists. He directs audiovisuals.

[From Cuban Art News]

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