We are Buena Fe
By Alexander Machado Tineo / Photos by Gabriel Dávalos
Armong the latest generation of bands from the Nueva Trova, a movement mainly promoting ballads, there is a pair of youngsters, outstanding not only for their musical arrangements and lyrics but also for their massive following who learn their songs by heart and anxiously await new releases.
Buena Fe, a duo started in 1998 by Israel Rojas and Yoel Martinez, both from Cuba's easternmost province of Guantanamo, off ers timely songs, varied and sharp, appealing to an ever growing and loyal following.
First playing together at local festivals in Guantanamo, Buena Fe (Spanish for Good Faith) soon caught the attention of the national record label, Egrem, which invited them to Havana to record "Dejame Entrar", and they have never stopped climbing the heights of Cuban popularity.
Named best pop act for several years running, they have released four other CDs -"Arsenal" in 2003, 2004- "Corazonero","Presagios" in 2006 and "Catalejo" in 2008.
I know lots of musicians whose lyrics constitute a barrier in their communication with the audience. This is not your case. Why?
"We would need to ask the audience. We always say we are interested in reaching as many people as possible. That is fundamental for us. There are many ways to reach people. Today silliness, screams, easy applause and overjoyed audiences are hip, even when associated with success; I prefer silence at the end of a song due to perplexity or inner thoughts, as if we had made a portrait of the audience with our lyrics" , said Israel.
We cannot be blind to the mass phenomenon you have become, there has been some sort of intentional work?
"You're right. We try to use as much resources of communication as possible; not only in the text, but also in the music and stage performances so that the images of the songs resemble our times" today's situations. We are very careful with the relation between text and melody. It gives coherence. We face creation without prejudice. We listen to different opinions and in the end we choose the one we think is appropriate with no fear. Regarding music, we don't follow pre-established criteria, not even national or foreign trends. If at a certain point we coincide with them, it is because we chose to".
I ask Yoel: Among Buena Fe's followers you have the image as the calm one with the guitar. Do you see yourself like that?
"I think people have that impression because of the interviews. Israel is always the one talking. He is a great communicator. When it comes to creating, it is different. We are equal then. The same with the guys of the band playing with us. When it comes to creating there is like a whistle for everyone. At that moment there is no one calm and I am one of the most active: always paying attention to the arrangements, the voices in the chorus, to all that "lab work."
Since 2008 Buena Fe has been promoting their "Catalejo" CD with presentations in Cuba and abroad. They performed concerts in Canada, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, United States, among others.
They also released a joint album with Cuban songwriter Frank Delgado, named "Extremistas Nobles," that received a great welcome by the public. "We wanted to pay homage to Frank and members of the Nueva Trova movement of the 1980's in Cuba," said Israel.
"We have also just finished our CD, p 3.14, with the Egrem label and hope people like it. It was named Pi because that constant has a lot of symbolism and for the Cuban songs that deal with the problem of social identity. We will start a national tour from January 5th to the 27th that will be in part dedicated to the anniversary of Cuban national hero José Martí.