He’s been in that ‘City of Angels’ for a few years to which the Red Hot Chilli Peppers sang…
Seven and a half! There is a mandatory adaptation period in this city, you don’t really understand how it works until you have been in it for a while; in my case, two years, not to mention that the language barrier was a barrier for me, and quite a lot, in the early days there. With my wife, who is a teacher, we discussed that I am forgetting Spanish and I don’t speak English very well -she laughs- so you see.
Los Angeles is an unbearable monster. Is it true that there you can not mark more than one daily thing on the agenda?
It is true. At first it shocked me when I talked to people and they told me that they didn’t have time to meet, they would make an appointment for me much later… I thought they were putting me off due to lack of interest. No, it’s that they literally had no room. Some of those people are industry ‘horses’ who have become friends, like Manny Marroquin.
“I usually work with Rafa Sardina, the Spanish musician with the most overwhelming career path I have ever met. He is my mentor and my friend, a master of mixing”
The last year and a half, including the tail end of the pandemic, you have not stopped.
Things are going very well. I usually work with Rafa Sardina, the Spanish musician with the most overwhelming career I’ve ever met; he has over 90 Grammy nominations. He is versatile to say the least, he has worked with Dr. Dre and Alejandro Sanz, with Plácido Domingo, Chucho Valdés or Bunbury. He is my mentor and my friend, a master of the mix. Working with him opens many doors.
You are a guitarist, of metal origin, although you already gave here to the music of the world.
And more and more I work as a producer; the business calls for transversality. You are more present in the entire process with the artists. Los Angeles is taking over the music industry; the urban rhythms are more in Miami, and they do it very well, but they go to LA looking for other things. There you find people coming from all corners of the world, who can immediately make the sound that the artist brings or seeks.
From La Almozara to the Los Angeles neighborhood of Tarzana, what a journey.
I started playing jota at school, but my first contact with AC/DC changed my mind. My parents were very into Pink Floyd and Santana, but my mother was also very into Juan Luis Guerra. At the age of 20 I was able to record with Perrozompopo, the brother of Nicaraguan salsa singer Luis Enrique, and later I played with Cubans like Karamba or Roberto del Pino, who mixed their roots with rock. Later came Tinglao’s jazz-oriented project. My usual idea, however, was to try in the United States. When I turned 30, I talked to my wife and told her that it was now or never; I made a couple of contacts, I tried, we encouraged each other… and there we continue
“My usual idea, however, was to try in the United States. When I turned 30, I talked to my wife and told her it was now or never; I made a couple of contacts, I tried, we cheered up… and we’re still there”
The guitars of ‘Esperando una señal’, Bunbury’s theme that was nominated for best rock song at the last Latin Grammy Awards, are his.
Rafa proposed it to me. Knowing that Enrique likes Bowie a lot, we thought of putting together a very special band for the recording. Carmine Rojas, bassist and producer, who has played with the White Duke, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner and Joe Bonamassa, is like my godfather in California; he had already invited me to play at a Bowie tribute. We thought that Mike Garson, Bowie’s pianist who has also worked with Nine Inch Nails or Smashing Pumpkins, would join the recording. Víctor Indrizzo was on drums. My guitars are synthesized, we invented a bit, and Enrique’s creativity did the rest; Working with him in the studio is a joy.
What is your relationship with the Recording Academy?
Having been part of the ‘house band’ of Maná’s Person of the Year on electric guitars, produced by Rafa, I was able to share the stage with Bunbury, Alborán, Yatra, Pepe Aguilar or Draco; Draco is brutal. I’m also on the Producers and Engineers Committee, and I teach a weekly hour of distance learning at Berklee, which I love. Now, yes, it makes me happy to be home for Christmas, even if it is only for a few days. The Grammys are coming up in February…
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Gabi Martínez: “I started playing jota at school, but AC/DC changed my chip”