Graham Reid | | 3 min read
Singer/guitarist/composer Nano Stern from Chile was born into a family of musicians and activists, and – after learning violin as a child – became part of the underground punk rock scene in Santiago and began his musical travels (literally, he lived in Cologne and Amsterdam after quitting his music composition course at university) and followed them up with classical and jazz training.
After seven years away he returned to Chile and – with his deep respect for Chilean poetry and music traditions evident in every passionate show – he now tours the world and instils hope in those who are hungry for social justice.
He is coming to next year's Womad (see dates below) so it is timely for him to answer of Famous Elsewhere World Music Questionnaire . . .
The first musician whose music really affected you was . . .
My grandfather. I remember watching him play the accordeon and have the feeling that I was in the presence of a true magician.
Your first appearance on stage before an audience was . . . (And you were how old?)
On my school´s theater playing (rather, trying to play) the violin. I was 5 years old.
If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .
I would dedicate myself to the study of language. I spend a lot of my free time either learning about linguistics or learning other languages. I get a lot of inspiration from that.
The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear because they are so emotionally moving are . . .
If we´re talking emotionally moving, I would have to say:
Violeta Parra - Maldigo del Alto Cielo
J. S. Bach - Erbarme Dich
and one of my own, I would say probably “Los Espejos”.
The most unusual place you have performed would be . . .?
A top a sailing boat in the canals of Patagonia. We stopped the engine and as I was playing the fiddle, an enormous albatross approached and seemed to stand still on the air just 3 meters away from me. I must have played for at least ten minutes for him. It was very surreal and unusual indeed...
The most important book you have read is . . .? And why?
The Tao Te Ching, because it has tought me the importance of being and not-being. I am aware that this is a lesson that is to be learned again and again every moment of your life.
If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)
Joni Mitchell. I would love to sing a couple of songs with her.
The three films you'd like anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .
“Machuca”, which depicts a very important time in the history of Chile which pictures many of the inequalities that we still struggle to abolish today.
“Tous les matins du monde”. I think, even though it is situated in Baroque France, it pictures the struggle of musicians between the deep world of sound, soul and emotion, and the banal and tempting world of fame and success.
The last CD, vinyl album or download you bought was . . .
Funny enough, the soundtrack to “Tous les matins…” which catapulted Jordi Savall into Early Music stardom.
When you travel, what is it you most miss about your home country?
A very specific type of Chilean humour. We call it “echar la talla” and it is easily misunderstood and comes across as a very rude and hardcore kind of sarcasm.
The artist you most admire would be . . .
I really, really admire Sting. He is not necessarily my favourite musician, but his path as an artist is a reference for me. He has the ability to encompass different styles and embark himself on different projects, being always fresh but true to himself and remaining at the highest level of artistic craft. Good on you, gordon...
Your favourite meal to share with friends would be . . .? (Care to share a simple recipe?)
Of course, and Asado. (Saying a barbeque would be understating the ritualistic aspect of a latin american asado).
Do you practice every day, and if so for how long?
No. I go through phases. I find it that, given that I don’t rely on my technique as much as on emotion, it is sometimes better for me not to play every single day. But then I´ll go on a binge and play for six hours every day for 10 days straight.
David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” If that were true, you would spend them where, doing . . .?
I can happily say that I would probably continue with life as usual. I am very happy with my days as they are. I would perhaps enjoy a bit more quantity of things that are delicious and fantastic but unhealthy, given the lack of long term expectations!
And finally, do you have any unrealised goals in music?
I could not even start counting the. As Sergei Rachmaninov once said: “Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music”