INTERVIEW: Colombian Composer/Director Julián De La Chica

1. Hi Julian, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hello, and thank you very much. Very happy for this invitation. Looking at the current situation in the world, I can only give thanks. I’m in good health, I keep working, and I’m still inspired to make music. It is not easy not to see everything that is happening around us, but I am optimistic. 

2.  Can you talk to us more about your song “My Name Is Agatha”?

The complete piano cycle “Voyeuristic Images Op. 10” is a cycle based on a story about a voyeur in the big city. My name is Agatha, is the “Voyeuristic Image No. 7” and tells the story that exists between the proganist and the voyeur. Although nothing is said and everything remains in the voyeur’s imagination, the music portrays that. That is why there are many spaces, silences… 

3.  Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Yes, from a personal experience when I had just moved to New York. I was staying at a friend’s house in Soho. The apartment had large windows, and you could see into peoples’ lives. I was struck by a man who lived in front of a nearby building. A woman who sometimes appeared there also caught my attention, however I never met them.

4. How was the filming process and experience behind the film? 

Wonderful. Cinema is really something magical. I confess that I enjoyed every moment of making this movie. Also, as I’ve often said, making this movie from a composer’s perspective made it easier for me to break into the technical issues of cinema. This gives Agatha freshness, and takes her to another level.

5. The song comes off your new album Voyeuristic Images – what’s the story behind the title?

As the name implies, they are images of a voyeur. A person who observes the lives of others from another window. But that window also signifies another perspective, another “comfort zone”. Another look. The world is moving, and we are all looking at each other. We all watch. We are all Voyeur.

6. How was the recording and writing process?

I write through images. I cannot conceive of music without the image. Through that vein, I often compose when I fall asleep. I see the notes and write them down. That is why when  I wrote Agatha, the music came out immediately and organically. The sound had to be “decadent,” almost hopeless. So I decided to record it on my old upright piano in my studio. I didn’t even want to tune the piano. I wanted it to be a very real, raw recording, like the movie. I didn’t want production. When I made the concert premiere here in NY in December, I premiered it on a wonderful D Steinway piano. The sound was exquisite and the experience was very different. It sounded wonderful, but it wasn’t Agatha

7. Was the two always meant to be part of the other?

Yes. Sometimes I don’t know which was first. If the image, or the music. Sometimes I think that the image, because it was what I saw, what led me to write the music. But then I remember that music led me to see that image. So I do not know… 

8.  As an artist that’s always interest in doing visuals – so was a short film a no brainer for you?

Although I love everything visual, although I have worked making videos, and although I compose music for cinema, making a movie is totally different. Telling a story is not easy, and especially in the way I wanted to tell it: with a static camera, black and white, with only looks, suggestions. etc. No, it was not easy. But it was worth it, and I had a wonderful team. Agatha would be nothing if it weren’t for the talent of Junting Zhou, a great cinematographer and filmker, and Augusto Guzman, an actor without limitations. He gave everything on stage. 

9.  I also understand you shot the whole thing in one day – what lead you to go on this wild direction?

Agatha tells the story of a man who arrives at his house on Monday, around 8:30, after spending 3 days partying. The story ends around 3pm. It was important to see the light change, not at the production level, but in real time. That’s why the movie had to be shot in almost real time. That was obvious to me, part of my experiment. 

10.  What role does Colombia play In your music?

My music has no roles. It is free, it comes from my experiences, my mistakes, my frustrations, loves, forgetfulness, sadness. It comes from beautiful places that I have lived or seen. It comes from NY, my city and home. So Colombia is only part of that story. It does not play any role. It is simply the beautiful country where I was born, and that already has a lot of say in my music. 

11.  Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

In everyday life. On the train, in the woman who falls asleep in the shoe store. On the crumpled paper in the trash. In the old Teresa who always is crazy with the sound of my piano. In day to day. In my family. In nowhere. In the void. In the abyss.

12.  What else is happening next in Julian De La Chica’s world?

I’m finishing rehearsals with Russian Mezzo Soprano Yana Mann. She will premiere my song cycle “Poemas de Bar, Op. 12”  a cycle for voice, piano and synth that I composed a few years ago, and which is based on people’s conversations at a bar at 5 am. She will release her album in Dec / January, and we are finalizing details. I’m also starting my second film, Dora, about a Latina in NY who survives the pandemic. And I’m working on my next cello cycle, dedicated to a great cellist. Also working on my first opera “El Castigo de dios” There are many projects … fortunately.


About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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