There are many people in this world, that make music, but Santana is one of the people that feel it, live it. It’s not “just” music or only a way of life, it is his life. Traveling the world, playing in the streets, those are parts of Santanas every day. He loves to share his musical energy with other people, not afraid of being turned down by others. One of the main constants in his musical production is the ever present emotional honesty. this can be felt out in the streets of New York or when he’s performing with his band in front of thousands of people. Read more, open your eyes and witness the world of a true and honest musical artist.icken .
Where are you from?
I was born here, in the States. Born in San Diego but I was raised in Mexico. I lived there for like 19 years. When I became 20, I went to London to study music, but I didn’t really study anything. I went there for like three months and then I had to pay like seven thousand pounds. At first, they said I can pay like a thousand each month, but then it changed and then they said I have to pay more. So that was it. I quit school and I just partied as hell! I met a friend who’s the drummer from the band, Redlake Circus. We started playing around, getting wasted.
When did you actually start playing music?
The first time, when I grabbed a guitar, was when I was like 17. But it wasn’t until we started the band, that I started for real and when I decided I want to do this for the rest of my life.
- Redlake Circus crew
When did you have your first show then?
First one was in Mexico, in Playa de Carmen. That’s like 40 minutes from Cancun. Luis and I, we used to manage some bars like 20 meters from each other. One day, we met a guy, from here, from New York, who’s our lawyer now. We met him though this one girl and we went out and he told us he used to work as an event producer for Marilyn Mason and Nine Inch Nails, Alice in Chains, so I thought cool and told him, that we play in a band, “wanna listen to it”? He came to a studio and listened to us. Then he told us: “ You sound good but you need to stop playing in a studio and go out there and play for people.” So we put on a show in the bar I used to manage. That was in 2008. We knew everyone back there though. There were like 100 people. But our real, first show, was here in NYC, in 2008. We played in front of random people. When the show finished, a lot of people came up to us and told us they like it and that’s when we realized, we are a band.
With Redlake Circus, are you guys still in the same group as when you started?
No, not at all. It’s always been Luis and I and as i said before we started in London. We actually started the band with another guy, a mexican guy, with whom we’ve recorded the album and did some shows in Mexico. But when we had to fly to Europe, he couldn’t do it so we got another guy, Ben, awesome guy. We did some shows in Germany with him and then here, we got another bass player. His name is Jamie Pitrelli and now that we are going back to Europe, we have another guy from Uruguay. Its basically Luis and I, now we are working on our second album and yea, its always been the two of us.
When is the album supposed to be done?
We are going to go to studio in October, so hopefully March or something like that. We are not in a rush and we want to do it well. We have about 20 song so we are considering doing a double album.
Ok, tell me, you’ve been in a band for a while, tell me what will stay in your mind for ever?
Wow man, there’s a lot! One day in Mexico, we were invited to play with a pretty big band. We played in front of like two thousand people, that was awesome. One of the coolest things that happened to us, was when we went to Germany. We didn’t expect shit. We expected like 30 people but ended up getting in from of like seven or eight hundred, that was our first show in Germany and in the front row was a guy, wearing a t-shirt of us, but it wasn’t official, he made it himself and I thought that’s just so cool! We have followers in Germany!
Anyway, tell me something about where I met you. We met on the subway, randomly, so my question is, why? Why do you play on the subway?
It started two years ago in Germany. My brother lives in Berlin and I saw a small carry-on amplifier. I though that was awesome so I got one and I started playing in my brothers flat. He lives really close to Victoria park and I love that place. I just thought, man, I wanna go out! So I started going to the park at night, because I didn’t want to bother people. I just wanted to be in the nature making some music, getting inspiration. I started going there and some people heard me and told me to come earlier so that we can jam. So I started going there earlier to jam. One day, I though, I wanna see what I can do with my guitar, if i take it in the streets, I can’t fuck it up. It was like a challenge to me. I grabbed my guitar and the amplifier and with two hundred euros in my pocket, I said fuck this! I’m gonna travel Europe and I’m gonna meet people! So I went to South Germany, France, Austria, Prague and made a lot of money! But fuck the money! That comes and goes but I met a lot of fucking cool people!
- Santana performing in Central Park
So how is this different from playing concerts?
Some people think it’s easier to play on the streets but fuck no! When you play in front of a thousand people, that’s cool but you know what you are doing. The people went there to see you. When you are on the subway or in the park, you are not sure if everyone wants to hear your music. You have to feel the mood of the people. You have to create the right atmosphere. Once, this cool thing happened, on 116th st, at Columbia University. I met this guy who started dancing to my music. I was following him and he was following me so we synchronized our moves. That’s what I’m looking for every time I go out. It’s nice to see the kids be amazed or the girls smile at you! It’s about sharing your energy. Sharing it, giving and receiving.
How do people react to this?
Some people like it, some people hate it. Once Luis and I were just jamming and then some girl came yelling at us in German to shut up and I was like ok ok! haha
What do you actually do, when you are out there? What is your thing?
Improvise. Actually, now that I’m in New York I’ve been forcing myself to study jazz and blues, even flamenco, because I don’t know anything about theory. I just know about sound! haha I’m just trying new things, experimenting.
Do you play only guitar when you are out in the streets?
Yea man, it’s my fucking wife! It’s my best friend! haha I’ve been all around the world with the one that I have now. It’s been with me from London to Mexico, Prague, Berlin. There are a lot of feelings connected to it. It’s my everything!
Lets try to sum this all up. You are in a band, you travel with it around the world, you love to play on the subway and give people your heart. What’s next?
I will be releasing a solo album, but more of the stuff that I play in the streets. Some kind of music for meditation. With Redlake, we play pretty hard and loud so, you know, I love music and I want to do more. Im doing a trip hop album with a guy from Stuttgart so there will be more stuff.
What is it that you love so much about this way of life?
I don’t do this for living. I don’t do it for money. I do this to live, to keep myself alive. When i was younger I used to play soccer and I was pretty fucked up. I was fighting all the time on the streets and stuff, but when I started playing guitar, I said..Fuck man! This is my medicine. It’s been more than thirteen years without taking any pills or any medicine. Every time I feel sick, I grab my guitar. Every time I feel sad, I grab my guitar and I get all the sadness out. It’s my therapy. When I don’t play, I feel sick. I just need to make music and be tripping on my life.
Redlake Circus Official - www.redlakecircus.com
Facebook - www.facebook.com/redlakecircus
Twitter - www.twitter.com/redlakecircus
Bandcamp - www.redlakecircus.bandcamp.com
Youtube - www.youtube.com/oficialredlakecircus
Santana - www.redlakecircus.com
Interviewed by - DC