We learned of Athanai in the music scene at the end of the 1990s. His alternative look quickly permeated an audience who was already marked by his popular sound.
It was also a period full of creativity geared towards that ‘Cubanía’ (‘Cubanness’) as carried in their DNA and today Athanai definitely continues to be that boy described in his song Séptimo cielo ( meaning seventh heaven ).
"Time passes... I am still that Athanai, but with a little more seasoning", he tells CubaPlus.
Many have made art exploring other latitudes and feeling from a distance. Buena Fe faith has said that one carries his country wherever he is, to never be completely. Athanai still rooted?
My work, though it contains foreign influences, is permeated by many elements of Cuban music. Being far does not prevent our Cubanía to surface, on the contrary, it flourishes with more intensity. In my case, having lived so many years outside of Cuba made me get close to genres of Cuban music that I never thought would catch my attention, and that I would enjoy so intensely. The new album which I am working on is an example of this. It has guajiras, guarachas and upcoming songs up to traditional trova and Bolero, among others. The need to not lose your reference point works wonders.
Obligatorio is a remix of that album from the beginning of 2000, a repeat of a realized dream..
One can say that, but Obligatorio has some differences. It is a different phonogram because its structure has changed. The introduction is different and, moreover, has been included as a bonus track to Lo siento mi amor, a song of my authorship sung by Rosario Flores and which is part of her record Jugar a la locura, which I produced, which has sold over 100000 copies in addition to being nominated for the Grammy Awards.
In Obligatorio the art of packaging is completely new, in addition, it has remastered music. I have to thank the team of excellent professionals who have worked with me to make it possible: Juan Carlos Rivero JUCARIDI in charge of recording the ‘bonus track’, Gabby Sant in the conception of art, Alejandro (Dela) Torre in correction, and Luis Durán in mixing and remastering of the album.
That is one of the albums that has reached the admission of Cubadisco 2017, due to the recording done with BisMusic. Did you want these songs to be among the Cuban public’s recent repertoire?
Of course! Obligatorio is an album created at a distance, but full of Cubanness. I love that the Cuban public could enjoy it. I think that to understand the evolution of my work, it is mandatory to listen to this album. There is nothing more precious to an artist than the recognition of his work. Being part of my country’s cultural heritage is something I've always wanted.
You recently arrived at Casa de las Américas in an already memorable concert. Did you have strong feeling about reuniting? How did you feel?
The last time I was in Cuba was more than 10 years ago. Imagine how much I felt like reconnecting with the Cuban public. Nothing better than the heartbeat of Nueva Trova of the continent to feel at home. It was a memorable reunion, full of love, power and feedback between the audience and me. I felt immensely loved. Seeing mothers with their babies, young children, teenagers, 20, thirty-somethings, forty-somethings like me… and then up to 80-year-olds, all singing and dancing my songs…that is something that brings me great satisfaction, knowing that they have not forgotten me. I was surprised people who still commenting and hanging pictures and videos from the concert in social networks. I was very happy and I will strive to keep that feeling.
Many of your songs in collaboration with Pablo Milanés and his daughter Haydée have been in on social media. How did these come about? Were they part of a record?
The songs Madre y Tierra as well as Falté are songs from my fourth studio album, on which I am working at the moment and which I will name Regresar. This recording will have a different sound because it is more acoustic. In it back to my side of Troubadour and there gather loose songs written in the last 20 years which for their style, did not incorporate in previous works.
Madre y Tierra,, first single from this album, is a song of 2003 which, thanks to Paul, does have a certain air of traditional trova. It is a song dedicated to my mother and Cuba and is born from a sense o flonging.
Falté, second single and currently in promotion, was conceived in 2001. It is a mix of Country –Andes-Irish, a love song that I define by how it sounds. Haydée takes it to another level. Both areavailable on iTunes, Spotify, and video clips can be seen on YouTube.
Tell us about your upcoming concerts and tours
For the short time that I've been in Cuba it going well. Recently my band and I were in Matanzas at the AHS and the reception was very pleasant. We are considering the possibility of attending the Ciego de Avila Piña Colada Festival. We have confirmed performance at the Gibara Film Festival. Proposals are on the table for some other provinces and we are open to introduce ourselves where we are sought and welcome.
I would like to take this opportunity as a reminder that my albums are available on iTunes and Spotify, and all information concerning my work and performance dates can be found on my web page: www.athanai.com . We are also on the social networks (www.facebook.com/athanaioficial, http://www.youtube.com/user/ATHANAI1, http://www.twitter.com/AthanaiMusica).