Silvia Cruz Lapeña
The Catalonian artist came to Madrid to receive the Tío Luis del de la Juliana award with crowd-funding with which she will record “Tempo Rubato”, a record in which she puts music to the love stories of her life.
When you open her webpage, the same song is heard since a long time ago: “Por la Mar Chica de Puerto”, a piece from Al Cantar a Manuel, a recording dedicated to the Málaga master of journalism, verses and life. “It’s no accident, I think it sums up everything I am and that I identify with”. That work from 2009, reflects the conviction that moves Martín, who produced the record with her own resources and placed all her bets on something other people considered crazy. In that work she says, is her soul and who she is, but they are still “another person’s words, and another person’s life”. She says this because she’s now working on Tempo Rubato, a record conceived as a audio diary of her loves and heartbreak.
“It started to come together two decades ago, when I asked Joan Albert Amargós to arrange some songs I’d sung and tried, but put on the back burner. I feel that now is the right time to publish them, I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s because a certain life cycle has come full circle”. With Amargós, whom people call a “magician”, she worked for the first time on the recording Muy Frágil, specifically on “SOS”, a song which has practically become a hymn. Now she has gone back to the same composer to dig around in her memories.
A record that will not be flamenco
Except for a tango of Gardel’s, two poems of Rafael de León, another of Lorca’s and a song based on verses written by an unidentified woman, the compositions of Tempo Rubato are her own. Neither the recording, nor the show will have a chronological time-line, so there will be no way to follow the history of the Catalonian’s heart upon hearing it. “It would be nice if the record and the concert followed the same order as the episodes of the life I sing about in them, but it would disrupt the musical meaning and be incoherent”.
Mayte Martín performs April 27th accompanied by the guitar of Salvador Gutiérrez at the Colegio Mayor Isabel de España in Madrid. This takes place within the framework of the flamenco festival that includes the prize Tío Luis el de la Juliana. Nevertheless, Tempo Rubato isn’t going to be a flamenco record. The mother of the project says that if people want flamenco, that’s what she’s there for: “If I’m on the recording, flamenco is a given” she jokes.
In order to achieve the sound and the effect she was after on this adventure, she’s accompanied by the Quartet Quixot, actually five people, since the incorporation of Ximo Clemente. Together, they make up a group of young musicians with whom the singer feels comfortable. “These are people who aren’t in a hurry, and who understand you. I couldn’t work with musicians who aren’t on the same wave-length, who just take the money and run. I’d die of sadness”.
Crowd-funding as freedom
But dough is necessary, which is why she opened a crowd-funding in which she offers her followers rewards in exchange for their contributions, where you can also see the record label, as well as Mayte herself: Fuga, Dolce, Pizzicato, Amabilo… words taken from classical music, like the title of the record, Tempo Rubato, wherein an interpreter decides the speed of a piece, “robbing” the original intention to give personality to the written music. Which is what she does with her own compositions, and those of others, and which is what Martín does whenever she sings.
There are people who wonder why an artist of her level has to resort to crowd-funding, but it’s not the case of someone who arrives at collective sponsorship as a last resort. “I did it for Cosas de Dos, and I’m convinced it’s the nicest way for a performer to offer his or her output to the general public”. When asked if that compromises her, or if she feels she owes them something, she denies this: “No, I actually feel crowd-funding gives me the freedom to create. That I’m being financed in order to be free”. She says this is the opposite of what big record companies do, that when they back an artist, that person is not paid to be free, “they pay the artist to buy their creativity, and have the person at their beck and call in every way”.
Being in charge of the entire process of making a recording, has its complications. Which is why Martín has made corrections since her last experience with self-production: Tiempo Rubato will be recorded and distributed by Satelite K. “It was crazy, and doing it myself I reached far fewer people. With these people I recorded Muy Frágil and Freeboleros, and I feel very at ease”.
A fully-formed voice
Mayte Martín likes to feel the audience close, she’s not afraid of them. To such an extent that some of the rewards will let her fans see the recording process, a rehearsal and even travel with the entire group of musicians to Córdoba, Granada and L’Escala (Gerona). The format is called Perdéndosi, costs 700 euros and Martín takes it on with gusto and good humor. “It’s that I’m an exhibitionist at heart” she says with a laugh, “otherwise, I wouldn’t even tell my love stories”. She adds that she also does this because she would have liked, for example, to to attend one of Enrique Morente’s recording sessions. “To create the rewards, I thought of things I would like to do with artists I admire. Unfortunately, nearly all of them are gone”.
She likes to say that her followers like her because they share her way of working. But her success also has a lot to do with her privileged voice. What does she owe to it? What’s it like? “The voice changes: it gets crows’ feet, like skin. The color changes, and now, when I hear recordings of several years ago, I realize that now it’s darker, and sounds more mature, more together, bigger…but I like it”.
For a woman who has a beautiful sound, and is obsessive about giving her best, it’s interesting to hear her reflect on the importance of the voice: “The most important thing is to let the background shine through. That’s why artists like Chavela Vargas communicated so well, even towards the end of her life”. She measures her words, has no fear of silence, and that’s why she pauses to organize a thought. And she says: “The voice ends up becoming a superficial element, like clothing. When you sing, the important thing for me is that people get involved in my story, and waste very little time on what I’m wearing”.