David Blanco “I Prefer to be Spontaneous”
By Pedro Quiroga Jiménez / Photos by José (Tito) Meriño
Not even thirty years old and he already has a CV difficult to match: singer, composer, trumpeter, keyboard player, producer and musical director. Around the world his interpretive style is winning recognition and praise, from Winnipeg, Canada, to the Cancun All Star Cafe in Mexico and the Teresa Carreño Theater in Caracas, Venezuela, to name only a few.
Cuban artist David Blanco not only has received fame around the world, he also has the privilege of being one of the favorite musicians of young Cubans today.
Where does such talent and recognition come from? Perhaps it is from his family, having generations of musical ability. Or, perhaps it is located in the dreams of a teenager.
Blanco remembered, “Ever since my childhood I have dreamt that I was a famous singer, performing in a stadium full of people. I used to stand in front of the tape recorder, or record player, holding a squash racket in my hands as a guitar. I also think that wherever your mind goes, your body follows. It seems that I wanted it so much that the feelings brought these things into my life. I also studied and prepared very hard to validate my ideas.”
The artist's words seem to imply a slight spiritual component, but Blanco assures us that these things come together naturally. He also tries to keep fears and doubts at bay, things that can often limit our human capacity to imagine and attempt new things.
“I have not always felt sure of myself. So as to be able to get to this place I needed to be so insecure! Like many other people, I have had my setbacks. I have had sad moments and insecure moments. Sometimes the world can be hostile. The market and money are meant to condition you, and the journey becomes difficult.”
Despite many challenges, Blanco had the great opportunity to meet Seju Monsón, the Spanish former manager of famous artists such as Juan Luis Guerra, Rubén Blades and el Gran Combo de Puerto Rico. It was Monsón who opened the door for him to the European music label, Latin Soul, where he first signed on as an author for singers such as Catalonian Sergio Dalma, and later as a singer with his own band, with their first CD, Tengo para Dar.
David Blanco reflects on that time, “That was an interesting phase for me. There were people all around me looking for an international language, but still I struggled to never lose my essence, my principles, and tried to convince myself that I could mix both things. But then suddenly I was alone. I needed to rethink my music from the beginning, because at the record label I made the rough cuts, I presented them a version, and in the end many changes were made.”
“It worked well for that moment though because it let people know the David of songs like Mueve la pachanga, the David of El despechao, the David of Fiesta. It was a powerful entrance into the Spanish scene where we were able to get a number of songs on the ‘hit list’.”
Two words guide David Blanco's conversational rhythm: solitude and evolution. The first is derived from so many people around him. Friends and couples, people who in one way or another had a connection with his work, although for Blanco what he ultimately needs for creation is silence.
“Evolution is born from silence. It is something I give to myself, to sit and meditate. My third CD, La Evolución, in which I feel I reached maturity as a composer, was born thanks to this. Evolution means newness, changes, and has to start first on a spiritual level. I am talking about evolution in all senses: the evolution of my country, of the world, of my family and friends.”
It is impossible to have a conversation with this musician and not discuss the technical part of his career. He had a multi-instrumental training that was consciously rigorous and definitely difficult. Combined, creating a truly complex compilation in one single being.
“My time as a student was difficult. Those were years of getting up at six in the morning, every day, going to school to study violin and then going to another teacher's house in Centro Habana, and from there returning to La Coronela (on the other side of Havana) where we used to live.”
“Those were times when public transportation was scarce and sometimes I had to jump on a truck or ride a bicycle. This process helped teach me persistence, and trained my will to really learn the instrument I liked.”
“When I was ten or eleven years old I decided to study trumpet although I also liked percussion, especially the drums. Not many people connect me with the trumpet and I thank God, unlike others, for having studied it and having been able to record both trumpets in my third CD, with the style of the sonora trumpet, and the influence of Herb Alpert with his pop trumpet.”
David Blanco is said to be a calm person. He has learned how to appreciate life and the people who contribute to his wellbeing, although, above all, he has learned how to not ask himself so many questions and to just be happy with what he has.
On his style Blanco stated, “People have tried to label me, but I don't want to be placed in an isolated, so called pure, genre. I feel defined by the work I finish. I prefer spontaneity and the fusion of genres like rock, jazz, blues and everything I have taken in from when I was little up until today.”
For the future “I try to imagine myself in 50 years as compared with today I imagine myself eternally young. I imagine myself touring, in concerts, happy and with many children. I believe in a word that defines it all: each person moves to their own beat and sees their own movie in their head, but the key to it all is in love.”
David Blanco Ponsoda, (La Habana, 1980). Blanco has a degree as a professor-instrumentalist of trumpet and group training. He also studied violin, piano and guitar. He is member of the General Association of Spanish Authors and Editors. At the age of 13 he was a member of Youth Symphony Orchestra. He also was member of the rock band A-19, and the very popular group band, Moncada. In April of 2001 he created his own group, and ever since has had numerous hit singles. Among them are: Habanero soy, Una y otra vez, Botao en Madrid and Miénteme. In 2006, for his song Cuando me dijiste adios, together with Compay Segundo's band, Blanco was nominated for the Latin Grammy.