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People listen to music as if they’re chewing gum or eating a donut

José Luis Salas: «People listen to music as if they’re chewing gum or eating a donut.»

Poplacara attended the presentation event for the book Alimenta tus oídos at the charming Gastrobodega (gourmet winery) in Montilla (Córdoba), where we were able to interview the author of this curious musical recipe book.

Tell us what’s the story of this book. How does the idea come up?

It all starts with a little section on the TV show No Son Horas, right at the moment at which I am substituting Carlos Herrera every morning. What initially was playing a CD and a little brush-stroke, began to grow until it became a real music forum just as the old ones. Herrera provides his comments, I get my impromptus in there and people seem to like it. It has been 7 years and through all this time, people has asked us to edit a record with the best of it - an extremely complicated task because of the trying to get the rights from such diverse people, with so very many specifics as for their label–. So, it occurred to me to shape this book, as an option to access almost all of the music we recommend, including the interactivity of the QR codes.

You have created a soundtrack for each important moment in our lives, which song would you choose to describe the way you feel publishing this book?

I think, La Leyenda del Pájaro de Fuego (The Firebird), by Stravinsky, would be the one which would come closer… it might seem quite a bit “snob”, but it is like that, although I would approve of any piece from those with which Dean Martin started his performances back in the 50s in  Las Vegas.

Which have been the keys to choose each song?

The selection has been the toughest part of the whole book, I would even say that it has been very much a pain in the neck and cruel to a certain extent. In the end, the decision had to do with the access, with it not being complicated to get this or that other song. Because we cannot really make a book in which, in order to find the music that is being recommended, you have to turn into Indiana Jones.

Would you say this book is a reflection of your personality?

Not entirely, in spite of considering myself an absolutely polyhedral guy, octagonal, or call whatever you want, who likes practically all music, just as the book reflects. I go crazy for a soundtrack, flamenco moves me, I go nuts for jazz, go insane with a good copla or a bolero, and now I am also into the coarsest and most authentic blues. Obviously, the book reflects its author, but I have also written it thinking of other personalities and counting on collaborators who have given it their little stamp, so that the result is something more plural and diverse. Variety is the spice of life.

Why the simile of the kitchen, the recipes…? Do you consider yourself the chef of music?

Basically, I could be many things, but above all I am “a good eater.” There is nothing more pleasant than cooking and eating with the right music. Gastronomy feeds us, in the physical and the state-of-mind sense, whilst music attacks more the emotional side. The simile of the whole work with a cooking recipe book is something that we came up with at the beginning, both Pili Molina, from, designer and layout artist of the book, and I. Besides it has given us much room to play, as you can confirm page by page.

How do you explain yourself in the Intro of Alimenta tus oídos (feed your ears). We have thousands of songs close at hand, but do you think quantity overshadows quality? Although it is clear that your recipe book is a good guide to mend that.

For starters I appreciate the wink, because that is the humble ambition of the book, making it clear that the first thing is to entertain and amuse. Now, in all seriousness, I must point out that the process in which the music industry and the listening habits are shaken, is absolute madness. People, in general, listen to music as if they’re chewing gum or eating a donut. We tend to repeat customs. Radio repeats, we go to YouTube and watch the same video several times, which at the same time we forward to a bunch of people. We do not search, we hit that little button in the music gadget and whatever comes out. When the access to records was more limited, without the Internet and other services, we were more selective, we searched more. Now, in general, the average listener does not worry about finding new things, that’s it, it is merely psychology. I remember some Americans from a record label explaining to me how important it is to place songs in the right order in a vinyl or a CD because most people do not go beyond track 3… we are like lab monkeys (laugh).

In relation to this last question, how do you view the work of independent media, such as Poplacara?

If you did not exist, someone would have to invent you, that simple. The mainstream or standard ones are already handled by all of us who work in the so called generalist media and all the horde of independent creativity needs the broadcasting that Poplacara provides. A medium like yours is absolutely necessary.

And lastly, do you bear a volume 2 of this recipe book in mind?

The truth is that I have left some chapters out of it on purpose, thinking of part two, which for the moment will have to wait, since I am currently deep into a cinematography book, and it is very curious. In any case, you can take a lot of advantage of this first volume, even when not are here all who matter but they matter all who're here.

José Luis Salas is a music journalist and director of the radio show No son Horas on the station Onda Cero. But he is also an inveterate cinephile and recognized specialist in nautical tourism and gastronomy, as he proves in the many features he publishes in various media.