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Kanka carries verses of love for Colombia in his soul

“We take you in the dream, we speak to you by telepathy. When it happens we will see how we make up for all those days.” The lyrics of ‘Zamba para mi padre’, which the Malaga singer-songwriter Juan Gomez Canca, better known as El Kanka, wrote, has a special story: His father fell ill in 2020, the year of the pandemic, and due to confinement restrictions he could not receive visitors.

“The song was an accompaniment from a distance –recalls the musician in his talk Cinema and I, prior to his presentation at Rock al Parque–, because when he was very ill in the hospital, he was alone.”

The verses and chords of Kanka flowed intravenously to the hospital, but their medicinal effect was insufficient: All those days could not be made up, because the patriarch of the family died. “It was a little horrible because I wanted to accompany him from a distance. There is another little song that I have not dared to show in public, it was when she died three Junes ago. And out of rage and sorrow, I composed practically two days after he died.”

Kanka’s father was a permanent presence for the artist. And he continues to be so through his songs. “He was an economist and we talked about business many times. In fact, he kept my company accounts for me. He was a very intelligent guy, with everyday wisdom and he really had to fight a lot, He was born in absolute poverty, in post-war Spain. My grandparents were practically illiterate and he, who was the oldest of four siblings, was already working at the age of 13, helping the teacher so that his school tuition was free. He practically supported his family. Already at 15 or 16 years old he was quite a hard worker (in Colombia, he would be called ‘a drug dealer’) and for me he was practically a superhero.”

(Another international musician in Cinema and I: Music and activism in the voice of Rubén Albarrán, from Café Tacvba)

The artistic sensitivity of this successful musician has earned him the sympathy of numerous followers. To be precise, 248 thousand on YouTube, an even higher figure on Instagram and nearly 900 thousand monthly listeners on Spotify. That’s why he was one of the most applauded guests a week ago at Rock al Parque and in his talk Cinema and I, a couple of days before at the Cinemateca de Bogotá.

You were born in the year of the Spain 82 World Cup. How do you remember your childhood in Malaga?

I remember it normal, really. I’m not a Málaga fan, I don’t care about football, I can’t help it. I would have liked at some point that I didn’t care so much, because in Spain football, damn it, is very important. But I was an outcast since I was little. I was an extremely shy child, it was very difficult for me to communicate.

In fact, in the songs he talks about his shyness.

Yes, because the issue of shyness weighs heavily on me. I didn’t want to be shy because I like people, I like to socialize, I’m a very friendly person, I also like to maintain relationships. I have friends from many years ago, so it bothered me a lot to be shy.

What was your relationship with your sister like?

A very strong relationship, not just children. I’m only three years older than him. She is a very good person, I was a bit more of a bastard as a child and she played tricks on him and so on, right? At the end of adolescence we began to have a really close relationship, of complicity, because also, unfortunately, our mother died when I was 19 years old and she was 16. That made us bond more. I think we tried to compensate each other for that maternal absence we had.

(More singer-songwriters in Cinema and I: ‘I have tried to make music a portrait of reality’: Edson Velandia)

Philosophy at the service of music

El Kanka studied classical guitar at the conservatory for several years, which has helped him in his career.


Juan David Cuevas. TIME

Inspired by his father’s profession, El Kanka studied Business Administration and Management. Music was not yet part of his professional future, but shortly after studying, he understood that numbers were not his thing. “I didn’t like that at all,” says the musician, with his strong Andalusian accent, “the truth is, I practically ran away. And then I enrolled in the conservatory, I studied classical guitar, although I didn’t finish it. And I also studied Philosophy at the same time, but I didn’t finish them either, of course.”

What has philosophy been used for?

Philosophy, in the end, teaches you a little how to think and that is a very important tool, especially for those of us who are not pretty. I don’t want to throw more stones on my roof, but you are seeing the aesthetic proposal (laughs). Mine goes the other way. I think I have something that is beautiful when it comes to telling things. I try to do it from another place and I guess philosophy helps, right?

When was your vocation for music born?

It was late, huh? My father had ears, but he didn’t hear… However, he was a great music lover. At home, we listened to the Beatles, Sabina. The Latin American author song, Pablo Milanés, Silvio Rodríguez, Mercedes Sosa, Chavela Vargas. And I don’t know why he never gave me a say in having a more active role in that. I was a late bloomer, but that didn’t stop me from falling in love when I started listening to music. And with the guitar, the same thing happened to me. I picked up a guitar for the first time in my life when I was 18, which is late. However, it was absurdly love at first sight. I couldn’t stop thinking about picking up the guitar and starting to play. I learned very quickly the first two or three years, not because I had more or less qualities, but because I didn’t stop playing. It was an obsession.

(Colombian musicians in Cinema and I: The cinema that ‘blew the head’ of Nicolai Fella, from Los Petit Fellas)

Before being El Kanka, he was Doctor Disaster. What memory does he have of that time?

I have good memories. Doctor Disaster was my Messenger nickname. I didn’t have the slightest thought of devoting myself to music professionally. But I ran into a good friend, Jesús, who played the clarinet. I met him in a tea shop in Malaga and we just started playing songs, without a purpose, and they offered us a concert. We said: Well, come on, let’s get together and since my nickname was Doctor Disaster, it was better than calling us Juan and Jesús, he loved everything. We did a repertoire that consisted of four songs of mine, one of which he had composed that morning (That was the level of professionalism!). The thing is that afterwards I really liked the feeling of performing my songs for people. We started to become a little more professional, to play every month, to rehearse and I started to compose a lot more.

And when does he become El Kanka?

The thing is that I didn’t earn any money and I couldn’t afford to go with four guys to Barcelona, ​​for example, and give a concert there for an audience of two people. So I started going alone, since at least I didn’t lose much. And since it seemed too pretentious to call myself Doctor Disaster, I started calling myself El Kanka, which was what everyone called me because of my second last name.

(A lot of music in El cine y yo: Lido Pimienta adds spice to the cinema in Cartagena)

Love for Colombia

Kanka reveals his love for Colombia

The popular singer-songwriter El Kanka has numerous successful experiences in Colombia.


Juan David Cuevas. TIME

The affection of Colombian fans for El Kanka is a round trip highway. The Malaga musician himself admits that In our country he has had opportunities that he has not even received in Spain. For example, the first time his compositions ascended to the olympus of symphonic performance was in Bogotá: “They wrote to me to tell me that they wanted to do a concert with a youth philharmonic fusion, with 80 musicians and a choir, my songs with classical arrangements and so on.” . It seemed like a joke to me. I had never done anything with a philharmonic and yet they proposed it to me here in Colombia.”

It seems that it has a special connection with Latin America.

It is a love relationship. I can’t think of it any other way. Damn, many years went by when on the 20th of the month I didn’t have a euro. And in Spain, I was going to play at the concerts and I didn’t know where I was going to sleep that night. And fortunately the thing about Latin America happened to me by chance. The first time I came was to Colombia. A guy named Jorge Ovalle, with whom I still work, wrote to me on Facebook and said: ‘You are heard a lot here in Colombia.’ And I thought: ‘But they don’t even listen to me in Spain.’ And I arrived here without knowing very well what I was going to find and I found a room full, with 200 or 300 little people who could have been people who had been fooled but no: they were people singing my songs as if there were no tomorrow! It was a shock to me, I didn’t understand anything.

Do you identify with our people?

Colombia is a bit particular, because not only was it the first country I visited, but really strange things have happened to me. After the Youth Philharmonic thing, I was going to leave, I had a plane booked and they told me: ‘No, man, they’re celebrating Colombia’s bicentennial in the Simón Bolívar Park with the adult Philharmonic and they want you to sing two songs.’ . A Spaniard to celebrate the independence of Spain! Imagine the honor. That was the most grotesque thing, because he was also the only non-Colombian.

I continue to compose quite intuitively. To tell you something, I don’t use narcotics (laughs), maybe with a tintico, at most.

What is your creation process like?

After so much time making songs I must have resources on a melodic, harmonic, poetic level, etc. but I still compose quite intuitively. To tell you something, I don’t use narcotics (laughs), maybe with a tintico, at most. And I like to compose from the beginning to the end. That is to say, I have heard many colleagues who write the lyrics and then put music to them. Or they compose the chorus and from there, they develop the rest of the song. But I like to compose both at the same time, always on the guitar. It doesn’t mean that I can’t come up with a melody on the street and record it, write down the ideas, but once I start developing a song, I like it to be as simultaneous as possible.

How many times has that magic happened?

I recently looked at the SGAE (the General Society of Authors) and they had about 80 songs registered. Of course, not all that I have composed in my life are recorded. There are many that fell by the wayside that I don’t even remember or anything about.

You are very active on social networks, what role does technology play in your life?

I have a love-hate relationship. When I was little in Malaga there was no internet in the houses. I downloaded songs in those programs that came out to listen to free music. Technology is a very good thing, what happens is that I feel that since it grows so quickly it does not give us time to adapt ethically, emotionally, to such rapid changes. I use social networks as a work tool and it has been vital in my career, because my songs are not played on the radio. I don’t have a multinational label behind me supporting me. Communication on social networks has made a lot of people from different parts of the world want to see the things I say.

They told me that it has a special relationship with psychoanalysis…

Well, I’m crazy, lost. It had always caught my attention, although in Spain it is a quite forgotten and even reviled discipline. And then I had a psychoanalyst girlfriend, who I was with for eight years. When we were about to leave each other, she started doing psychoanalysis and I noticed a brutal change. In fact, I had a joke that she brought a gift to her psychoanalyst on my behalf, because she helped a lot for our relationship. So, I started trying and I have been all these years, not with the same intensity, nor with the same therapist. But I’m practically always thinking about little things. I’m still there, let’s see if the screws adjust.

(One last recommendation: ‘I am a speaker, but I am no one’s voice’: The Girl)

Julio César Guzmán
A Twitter: @julguz
Editor of the Visual Desk of EL TIEMPO

2023-11-20 05:42:45
#Kanka #carries #verses #love #Colombia #soul

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