Five Questions: Roy Germano of A Mexican Sound
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Director Roy Germano first discovered son huasteco while filming his acclaimed documentary, The Other Side of Immigration, in the mountainous communities of the Huasteca region of Mexico. Instantly enamored of it's lively rhythm and massive sound (you must experience it live!) he decided to return to the region in further pursuit of the music's history, major players, and a brand new generation of artists who are keeping the sound alive while making it all their own. We pursued him with a few questions. Read 'em below!
1. Was making your project video:
E. OH GOD. I CAN'T WATCH IT. I JUST. NO.
F. ALL OF THE ABOVE
F - All of the above. I procrastinated too. My first few takes were horrible. I felt like the guy from the documentary Winnebago Man, cussing myself out each time I messed up! But I finally got the hang of it and recorded a take that I could live with. I’ve watched my video as few times as possible since then!
2. What do you know now that you wish you knew then? (about running a Kickstarter project, or life in general!)
I was actually pretty hesitant to use Kickstarter. I thought of it simply as a fundraising website, and like a lot of artists, I’m not a big fan of fundraising. Since launching my project, however, I’ve come to realize that fundraising is just half of the Kickstarter experience. The other half — the fun part — is connecting with people from all over the place to discuss ideas and shared interests. I’ve made new friends through Kickstarter and had the chance to say hi to a lot of old friends. Knowing this, I wish I had used Kickstarter when I was raising finishing funds for my last film, The Other Side of Immigration.
3. If we've never heard son huasteco before, give us three artists we should listen to right now.
Los Camperos de Valles is hands down the best son huasteco trio out there. They do everything extremely well, particularly the most difficult aspects of son huasteco like violin solos and falsetto singing. I had the honor of meeting Marcos Hernandez and Gregorio Solano— the two surviving members of the original trio — while filming A Mexican Sound. It was very special to hear (and film) the best of the best in person.
I also recommend Trio Chicamole. Trio Chicamole is part of a new wave of son huasteco musicians, and they experiment a little more than the older trios. I’m also a fan of Trio Huasteco de Panuco and Trio Tamazunchale.
Some of my backers and I made a list of our favorite son huasteco albums (with links to where you can download the albums). Check it out on my Kickstarter updates.
4. How did you discover this musical genre? How do you think it factors into a contemporary pop music landscape?
I discovered son huasteco pretty randomly back in 2008. I was in Mexico shooting my first film, The Other Side of Immigration, when a friend and I picked up a “greatest hits of son huasteco” CD in a rural market. I had never heard of this music before. I thought it sounded a bit odd at first — maybe even a little hard to listen too. But I listened to the CD over and over... there was just something about it that intrigued me — it was unlike any music I had ever heard before. The more I listened to the CD, the more I came to appreciate son huasteco's joy, intensity, and emotion. It's now one of my favorite styles of music.
Son huasteco’s only contemporary pop appearances that I'm aware of are in Cafe Tacuba's version of the song "Ojalá Que Llueva Café" and a track (“El Gusto”) on the soundtrack of the Salma Hayek film Frida. Although not very well known by the outside world, son huasteco is alive and more popular than ever in Mexico’s Huasteca region. I hope A Mexican Sound can introduce the style to people outside of the Huasteca. I know there are a lot of people who will really love this music if they only have the chance to hear it (especially performed live).
5. Any words of wisdom for all the would-be project creators out there?
I’m still learning the ropes of Kickstarter and not sure I’ve unlocked any big secrets so far, but my advice is if you have an idea that you are passionate about, go for it. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll meet some cool people who have similar interests along the way (and hopefully end up with a funded project in the end!).