Sergent Garcia, who was famous for his formerly puppy slackness, now is a bearded wise man looking for proximity to nature, but he doesn«t change that: he is still characterized by his commitment to curiosity for music and people. In the 20th jubilee concert, the Budapest Folk Fest will arrive on 25 May, before going on a new musical encounters with its own built sailboat.
You grown up in France, but your father is spanish. To learn and play latin music style was a way to getting closer to your personal identity, to your roots?
Partly yes, but this process wasn’t so direct. By the time I started playing Latin music, I've been working with hip-hop and reggae too. When I wanted to record another reggae album, I first thought that it would be much more interesting if I combine Jamaican music with my own musical heritage. At that time I contacted the Latin musicians in Paris and started working on hybrid music in which the reggae and jamaican music meet with Cuban music.
What role did play in your musical discovery when you first moved to Barcelona at 19, and later to Latin America?
When I made my first album, I havn’t been in Latin America yet. I first traveled to Cuba in 1999, and there was no stopping there. I have played and recorded discs in more than 50 countries. I lived in Mexico, Colombia, Cuba - I've worked a lot with different musicians in these places.
For me, this was the most important goal: to get to these distant countries and to play with the musicians there, and to understand the secret of these cultures at the basics level.
How do we shall imagine these musical encounters? Were these well prepared, or spontaneous?
In Cuba, it wasn’t difficult to meet musicians because there are plenty of musicians and they are present everywhere: not just in concert halls and clubs, but you can also meet them on the street. I tried to adapt myself to these communities and learn from them, to sing with them. This is what happened in Cuba and Mexico, where I already recorded an album. But at the beginning I was looking for jam sessions, stage guest musicians, street praters, for musical encounters.
From this countless effects developed this musical medley that you call salsamuffin?
Something like this. After the release of my first album, the reporters immediately questioned me: what type of music is this? Since I had to define myself, I checked if others play similar music. In the nineties, there were Spanish reggae and salsa music, but I didn’t really find an example of someone building a bridge between Jamaican and Cuban music, salsa and reggae. So one day I said jokingly my name was called salsamuffin, from salsa and raggamuffin. Finally, this name remained.
In your texts - not unfamiliar to the reggae - political contents are also popping up, but as you sing in Spanish and French, these are not understandable to everyone. What social issues are you interested is?
In most of my songs I sing about a better world. About the plague spot of the modern society, pollution, corruption, and what they want to be one day before we destroy our own planet: a more solid society, brotherhood and humanity.
I'm a real peace-loving man, I'm struggeling to connect people with each other through my music and make peaceful energies.
Do you believe that music can be such a powerful energy that even can launch social changes?
A song can get a lot of emotion out of a man: you can cry, be nervous, or you may fall in love with somebody.
I think the music-induced vibrations can penetrate into the deepest possible level. Perhaps not a song will change the world, but it can open gates in people's minds to become more open.
For example, during the Iraq War, I wrote an anti-war song in 2004. Of course, the war did not end, but those who heard the song might have wondered and tried to re-interpret the events. The song can be a movement, a hymn of a demonstration - I think that is also a task for the music.
Your artist name was chosen by Sergent Garcia after the anti-hero Zorro. Are you thinking about yourself as an anti-hero? As a figure who occasionally stands on the "wrong side"?
I'm an anti-hero in that sense, that I do not want to be a hero. Although Sergent Garcia stand on the wrong side in the movie, he is a sympathetic character, the child of the folk, while Zorro is an aristocratic knight.
When I was a kid, this was my nickname at school because everyone wanted to be Zorro, and I was jthe only one who wanted to be Sergent Garcia.
So when I had to choose an artist name, this childhood mockery came to my mind immediately. It also means to me, that things are not black and white.
Your latest album – called Dub on my boat - has been recorded in your studio on your own sailing boat. Would you tell me something about this?
This is a new project. Two years ago, I bought this sailboat and started setting up a home studio. This album contains all the songs I've mixed here.
Currently, the ship is in Valencia, but I would like to go on a journey in the next two years, to get to the different locations around the world and record recordings there.
Hopefully this summer I will be ready to complete the ship's renovation and start my journey: I want to get to the Canary Islands via the Mediterranean Sea and then to the Afro-Caribbean, following the road where the African effects in the Caribbean area arrived.
What are your next plans for the future?
This year I celebrate Sergent Garcia's 20th birthday, on this occasion we will start a European tour, which will take place in the autumn. Then there will be concerts in Latin America. These are my plans for this year. Next year I hope I can start my traveling studio project.
If one thing should be mentioned, what was the greatest gift of your 20 years long carrier for you?
I feel very lucky for this 20-year journey and human encounters, sharing experiences and musical thoughts.
I have achieved my most important goal several times, when music has taken the audience with another planet.
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