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SpanishEnglishEntrevistas - Interview - Stockholm 2011

Calle Real - Interview Stockholm 2011 Thomas Eby, Gunnar "Dony" Thullberg, Peter "Speedo" Fredriksson & Karl "Kafry" Frid

MW: El Dony, why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us how you got into salsa in the first place and how you ended up with Calle Real?

Dony:   Well, I studied in Cuba at the end of the 90s…98, 99.  I got inspired and I continued. When I got here [Stockholm] I played with Calixto's [Oviedo] band for a while. And then I had a band with Thomas and Kalle [Karl Frid] and then we joined Thomas joined Calle Real first, and then we joined.

MW: When you were in Cuba were you studying guitar?

Dony: Yeah mostly, I studied mostly guitar and tres.

MW: How did you end up on piano?

Dony: Because when I got here...I played a bit of piano before, I mean as a child when I grew up. But when I got back from Cuba there was no one here in Sweden that played that kind of music on the piano. My friends who wanted to start I went with a couple of friends from here to Cuba and they wanted to start a timba group. They were inspired. They wanted me to play the piano because I was the only one they knew who could play, possibly could play that kind of music, so I started to pick up some lines.

MW: How did you pick up the style of tumbao that they have in Cuba? I mean it’s much more aggressive and interesting, in my opinion, than regular salsa montunos.

Dony: I think it was quite easy since I had been there for almost a year and I went to all these concerts with everyone, with Paulito and Issac and so I picked it up somehow there and then since I studied also the tres, the lines are similar to original tumbao playing. So I think it was quite easy then just to pick it up.

MW: Peter.

Peter: Well I just started playing with the band last year I think. And I think it was I started to play salsa and timba when I moved to Stockholm. I never played it before 5 years ago when I moved here to study at the Royal College of Music and I met all these guys who were playing timba and salsa. And it was –  I got the opportunity to play with these guys, and it's the top band in all of Europe I think, and it's great! It's really fun.

MW: Kafry.

Kafry: ¿Sí? Well I – I wanted to do something different from like the original – I've been studying music for a lot of years, and I was studying at the Royal College of Music in London classical trombone, which was really like conservative and – and after a year I just had to, you know, take a break and I wanted to do something completely new. One evening I met Gunnar out in a club and he said he'd been in Cuba for a year, and the same evening I was out with Thomas because we're old friends since high school. And so we started talking to Gunnar and I said I wanted to do something completely different this year and so Thomas said "Well I'm going in September. I'm going to study music in Havana. You should come." And that was like a month before and I just decided to come. So I actually went there together with Thomas. I was studying trombone and some percussion, a little bit of piano as well, in Havana for a year.

And I don't think I – I've actually been more interested in Brazilian music before. I mean apart from Buena Vista Social Club I hadn't heard that much Cuban music. But it's impossible to live in Cuba and not fall in love with the music, because it's so much [a part of] Cuba.

So since then, yeah, I came back to Stockholm, we formed a group called Salam Aleikum together with some friends, and then after a couple of years I joined Calle Real, at first just playing trombone, then I was playing trombone and güiro, then I was playing trombone, guiro and doing coros. And then finally I decided just to do güiro and coros at the gigs. Still I've played on two records, trombone, as well. It's hard for me to stay away from the trombone.

Thomas: It's like the same for me with percussion.

MW: Yeah, you play some percussion on the albums, don’t you?

Kafry: So like, the next album's going to be Peter's first album, but he's not going to play any trombone solos, because I'm going to take all of them [laughing].

MW: I’d like you guys to address the issue – some time last year I got an e-mail from someone saying that they heard that Calle Real was breaking up and did I know anything about it.  And I said “No. I don’t know anything about them breaking up. As far as I know they’re still going”. So maybe you guys can address that and put you fans’ minds at ease.

Thomas: Yeah, well, we're not breaking up. We're like this old marriage that will go on forever, with all the ups and downs and everything like that so, yeah we're no, we're not breaking up.

Well maybe some of you have heard that Patricio moved to Chile. So he's living in Santiago right now. But we still keep the group together. We play, we had some gigs without him and we did some gigs with him as well. So... And we've always been like this, not – like different from the Cuban bands. There's one leader and you know everybody's hired musicians in this group. We are, we really are – are we twelve now [asks Kafry]? Yeah. Twelve people like in the group working together. So actually I started to write some new material and then I just e-mailed the songs to Patricio. And we talk about the lyrics and then maybe he writes something and I come with input and we give each other input, so. And it's the, I mean that's the way we need to work right now, because he lives there and we are here. But we can also write a lot of things here, so I mean, it's actually still the same. Kafry you've done, and also Rickard, they've recentl – you did great jobs like booking up the gigs and stuff. We've been, yeah, we’ve played in Stockholm twice, we've been to Israel, we've been to Kraljevo in Serbia. Yeah and we have things coming up. I don't know if we – can we talk about it [to Kafry]

Kafry: Yeah sure.

Thomas: We're going to Japan, so we have a lot of things going on, so we're absolutely not we're not breaking up.

MW: And how are things going? When can we expect you to record your next album?


Kafry: We have some plans.

Thomas: Yeah we have plans. We have plans for different albums actually. I think I said that in the last interview we did that I want to release a live CD or DVD maybe CD, DVD maybe. So that I think will, I hope to get that train going quite soon. But we write new material. But nothing – we don't have like very specific plans for when to release the third album.

MW: Is it a little bit hard to get people together for recording because you also have other groups that you’re working with?

I don't think, I mean we just, of course that's always a problem with a 12-piece band, and everyone is a freelance musician. We have a lot of different projects going on constantly. So of course that, I mean that's sort of a problem. But so far we've managed to record 2 albums. And I think the next one, when we decide to go into the studio it's not going to be a problem. But I think we're still like assembling material and we're trying to, you know, write. I mean we all have like new material that we are like working on simultaneously. And so I think when we assemble that material we will go into that process of recording the album.

MW: Are you going to finally fulfill El Dony’s dream of writing a really good feminist song?

Thomas: [laughing] Probably yes, because now when Patricio is in Chile, he has to...[to Dony] you have to write the lyrics yourself. So then you can do whatever you want. No but it's, I mean I try to see it not as a problem but like something good. Because it's nice to have like 12 different people everybody playing with different stuff, different types of music and all that, so when we get together it's cooking. I mean we're doing a lot of different things so it's very nice when we get together and we write songs. And it's, I think as soon as we are, like, within the next year it will come. And the recording process is not that hard. It's the writing process that's that is hard. But I mean if Kafry comes up with a couple of songs, and me and Patricio also, I mean Dony, he's very special. He always writes songs. So when, I just need to ask him and he will say"Yeah I have a couple of songs". And then you get down to to his studio and he like picks up "Maybe this one, maybe this one". And then he has like, [to Dony] you always have like five or six songs going on so then you just have to do the coros and arrange some stuff, you know some horns and stuff. Then it's a song.

Dony: Yeah, now Peter showed me he's already working on something.

Thomas: Yeah, I'm expecting much from Peter. Yeah "El Señor Speedo" we call him Speedo. I have to tell you the story about Speedo. When we were...[to the other guys] We're we in Venezuela?

Kafry: No in Vic-Fezensac, in France.

In France, yeah we were playing this Tiempo Latino Festival in Vic-Fezensac, in Francia and Peter didn't bring, [to Peter] you didn't bring your swimwear, right? So they went to this store and they only had like very, very, very small Speedos. And he's a very big guy.

Kafry: It didn’t stop him.

Thomas: No, it didn't stop him. So he went to the pool with his very, very, very small Speedos on. So now he's El Señor Speedo, Mr. Speedo.

Kafry: It's also because he plays really, really quick trombone.

Thomas: Yeah, double meaning always good.

Kafry: [to Peter] And you're really, really quick in bed.

Peter: Yeah.
[Everyone laughs]

MW: Why don’t you tell us a little about those concerts you’ve done recently? I’ve seen some video from the concert in Israel and it was really impressive to see that there were some serious fans there that knew all the words to the songs.

Kafry: It was amazing. We didn't expect that at all. I think, I mean it was our first show like our first concert in Israel. And I think people there were also surprised that we were coming. They didn't believe it at first because, I don't know why, but I actually got some e-mails from fans in Israel saying "Is it true? It's not just, you know, a rumor?" It's like "No, it’s true, we're coming". There came a lot of people from like all over Israel from like Tel Aviv, from Jerusalem and other parts. They came down to Eilat where we were playing. And yeah we had a great concert.  It was a great evening. It's like people were singing more than Thomas.

Thomas: Yeah I was just like starting doing the verse and then just put the mic out and the audience they were like singing the whole thing.

Kafry: They were in charge.

Thomas: Yeah. No, it was incredible actually. I was so amazed.

Dony: Easy work.

Thomas: Yeah easy work. But no it was amazing. I didn't know. I didn't know they'd even heard us before.

Kafry: And it's interesting as well because we haven't released really any of our albums in either Israel or in Serbia and Serbia was also the same thing. There came busloads of people from Belgrade up to this small village called Kraljevo and just like a great reception we had.

Thomas: There was a lot of love.

Kafry: Yeah

Thomas: A lot of love. Yeah, it was really nice.

Kafry: So it's been really interesting because we've done those 2 shows recently and now we have the Japan Tour so we're going to do like 5 shows in Japan in August. And it's the same thing there really. We haven't released so we’re doing it as a promotional tour so we're planning on releasing the album, or the albums, pretty soon in Japan. We're working on that right now.

MW: I have a question for each of you. What is the last song you listened to before you got here? If it was today or yesterday, what was the last song? It doesn’t have to be salsa, doesn’t have to be timba, the last thing you were listening to.

Thomas: Yeah I heard something on the radio in my car on the way here but I don't know. I don't know what song actually. I heard, it was a lot of nice reggae tracks. I think it was some kind of reggae program. I don't know.

MW: Dony?

Dony: I'm not really sure. What could it have been? I think...

MW: You don’t listen to much music?

Dony: Yeah I do, sometimes. But mostly radio. I have some favorite radio programs that I listen to. There is one called "Klingan" that mixes a lot of music from all over the world. I listen to that one a lot. And maybe that was the last thing I listened to – Sunday.

MW: Peter?

Peter: I think it actually was Miles Davis.

Kafry:   [joking about the Swedish pronunciation] "Dawis"

Peter: "wis". Miles Davis, "Workin" I think it was the last...kind of nerdy.

Thomas: Lucky you

Peter: That was it.

Kafry: I've listened, before I got here, I haven't really been listening to, I've been working with music today so the last thing I heard was a song I'm working on myself. But the last thing I think I listened to was last night. I was drinking a lot of whisky and I was listening to first a lot of hip-hop then a lot of grunge music like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, reviving my youth. And then the last thing I listened to before I went to sleep was probably Miles Davis as well "Stella By Starlight" 1964 "My Funny Valentine" It's a great recording.

MW: And in terms of timba, if you guys even listen to it. I don’t know if you listen to it normally or not.

Kafry: You're so disappointed! None of us listen to timba!

[laughing] No that’s OK I don’t expect you to be listening to timba all the time. Since you’re musicians I expect you to be listening to a lot of stuff, but what right now – because you know how you get like hooked on something, like maybe “Oh, I’ve got this old Manolín CD out that I’ve been listening to” or whatever. What is the most current stuff that you’re into timba-wise?

Thomas: Well, I don't know I mean if – I listen quite a lot to timba actually. Every time I'm a bit down or something I always listen to it because it makes me so happy. I have my Los Van Van playlist so it just rolls all the albums and also my Charanga Habanera playlist, so. But recently I think, I don't know much about the new things. I've heard Elito Revé, the new stuff. It's great. And also Havana D'Primera. Havana D'Primera is, they I think they, yeah I think they are really good. I have to
say. It's good work Alexander, very good.

I got like 4 new songs I think from a DJ in Argentina. He just sent me 2 new songs I haven't heard before and 2 old, 2 songs that are released. I don't know if they are…

MW: Havana D’Primera?

Thomas: Yeah, Havana D'Primera. Maybe you can listen to them. Maybe you know them.

Kafry: Yeah what's their style?

Thomas: Oh, they're good. I really like them as a new group.

Yeah I love Alexander's singing of course.

Thomas: Yeah, it's – it's great.

Dony: Yeah, me too. When we were in Serbia they put Havana D'Primera on all the time so I really like it. And then I have been listening to it since I got home as well. They have really good stuff. But normally when I listen to timba it's mostly old stuff like the first Médico albums and Paulito albums where you can hear every single tune. But there is great new stuff out as well. And I mean Los Van Van and Elito Revé are always doing great things. Manolito as well.

Peter: I listen to a lot of Elio Revé and Manolín. Especially the live album from Miami, I've been listening to a lot.

MW: You know Manolín has a new song out too.

Thomas: Yeah? I haven't heard it. Yeah I heard some new stuff from Paulito as well. I don't know if it was released. Did he release a new album recently?

MW :  Well he did I think it was last year. But you know how it is. It’s hard to know when something was released and when it “became available”.

Thomas: I would like to go to Cuba again it was a long time, I think we were, when were we there the last time? 2005? It's been absolutely too long. It's been too long since we've been there.

MW: Was that when you were there for the Beny Moré Festival?

Thomas: No that was 2003. Yeah, no I've been there since.

Kafry: I haven’t.

Thomas: It's almost over 8 years. Yeah it's crazy, I need to go. I need to go.

MW: You guys have to get in to CubaDisco or something.

Thomas: Yeah we need that.

Dony: Or maybe just go to Brandbergen, to Rickard's place.

Thomas & Kafry: Yeah.

Thomas: We could listen to...

Kafry: Yeah if you want to hear all the new stuff you just have to go to Rickard Valdés.

Thomas: I met this Swedish rapper, named Timbuk and he was there with his band played at this like...

Kafry: Timbuktu.

Thomas: Yeah Timbuktu I think he was there playing with is band like in some festival, Swedish-Cuban festival in Havana. So he was there playing with his band and he told me that they played like – I don't know which one, he didn't know which one, but a Calle Real song on the radio and stuff like that in Havana.  So now we need to go there and listen to ourselves on the radio.

MW: Sounds good. Well thank you guys for taking the time to come down here and talk to us. We’re looking forward to another single at least.

Thomas: Yeah. That's actually...

Kafry: You're probably going to hear a single or two.

Thomas: Yeah. That's actually how we were thinking about the next album, like maybe just release first one song maybe a second one, maybe a third one. And when we've released like six or seven songs we make three more and then we make the whole album. So a single, you will get one.

Kafry: You will be the first to know.

Thoms: Yeah.

Sunday, 17 July 2011, 08:45 PM