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Independent poetry through music: Contradanza

They defend the folk style by an alternative author, as they call it themselves, and they feel music from different parts of the world through music. That is how Contradanza (hoedown) is, the band from Andalucía that has been on the boards for more than fifteen years. They have traveled the world taking their music to different stages and now, they are still advertising their last album, El canto de la tripulación (The crew’s chant).

The band is formed by Ricardo de Castro (voice and acoustic guitar), Fernando García Conde (drums and percussion), Antón Ramírez (bass), Luis Gómez (saxophone and flute) and Julio Castel (guitar and ukulele). Ricardo is in charge of the music and of some of the lyrics of the band, which always take you to the traditional Andalucian songbook, poetry and folk. Along with Antón Ramírez’s jazz influences and Fernando García Conde’s music from the world, they make up what we know as Contradanza.

Up until now they have four albums, Mar de fondo (2003), Meridional (2006), Tentenelaire (2010) and El Canto de la tripulación (2014). This last one evokes the mixture between the traditional and the contemporary, where different musical styles merge. Precisely, this band approaches genres such as folk, jazz and the singer-songwriter song, without leaving the recovery of popular music from all over the world aside.

If anything characterizes this band, that is their interest in recovering the Andalucian popular tradition through their poetic work, by means of the rescuing of forgotten works. For instance, in El canto de la tripulación, we find some work by Federico García Lorca transformed into music, as well as by Juan Ramón Jiménez, Ferrán Fernández, Tito Muñoz and other work from Cádiz’s collection of ballads.

Below, we bring you a recent interview with Ricardo de Castro, Contradanza’s front man, where he unveils the band’s ins and outs for us, their long-range plans, and also how flamenco is not the only traditional music we find in Andalucía.

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Why do you bring up the subject of Andalucian poetry in your songs?

It is not so much the poetry but some references that we are interested in. What really interests us is the music that moves us, it doesn’t matter whether it is an anthology from the XV century or a poet from last year. We are interested in particular people like Javier Egea, Pablo García Casado, Ferrán Fernández or Juan José Telléz. They provide a view of the current affairs and we take advantage of it and turn it into music.

I saw that in your last album you have addressed work by Federico García Lorca.

In this last one there are various references to traditional poets from Andalucía such as Juan Ramón Jiménez and Lorca. For example, we have that song, Federico Chico, which talks about the Lorca that is hidden, sleeping, the one that nobody worries about, but that is there somewhere, in the cold.

Which are your main influences?

I think each member of the band brings in a bouquet of different things. There are jazz influences, and influences from traditional music, and Celtic, Sephardic, pop, and regarding me precisely, Latin and electro music influences.

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How would you define your independent folk?

We call it this way because we do not make primary work. We do not that old thing, working and from there come the topics, but that topic we are interest in, we bring it closer to other styles. That reconstruction is what takes us to a non-existent territory, and even more if we combine that with songs that are closer to other styles such as flamenco.

What do you intend to convey with your music?

We mix. There are songs that want to convey more joy, party, and others are about communicating, about an emotion and a feeling. It doesn’t matter whether it is a song from the XV century or something contemporary, we want to arouse emotions.

Which has been your best experience playing abroad?

What we liked the best was our two tours around Morocco, where we were able to play with native musicians and show them what we do here.

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What topics do you address in your last album?

About the whole of Cádiz’s anthology. There are references to Lorca, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Juan del Encina… We very much like a cover we have done of Arponera, by the band Esclarecidos, much more tavern-like, more port-like, more folk and less pop.

Which are your long-range plans?

Right now they are directed to playing live. That is our favorite thing to do, what interests us the most. We are still engaged in the advertising of El Canto de la Tripulación and, while we are still presenting it, we already have new songs to play.

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