Santa Lucia

Interview Santa Lucia

Santa Lucia LFR

‘Suppressed Anthems’

Santa Lucia LFR



Every suppressed or expunged word reverberates through the earth from side to side.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882) US "philosopher, poet, essayist"

worldbeatcanada radio: Maybe it’s global warming or maybe the natural flow of immigration northward, but the west coast, guitar-driven Latin sounds that were once the exclusive property of San Francisco’s Bay Area and East LA are getting an injection of new life here in Vancouver. Santa Lucia LFR is updating the classic approach of bands like Santana and War making it even funkier and punkier than ever before. It’s music with a message that resonates from the soles of your feet to your temporal lobe and with the release of their second album, Suppressed Anthems; they’re obviously just getting started. German Cantillo, guitarist and songwriting provocateur joins me by phone. Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano, German. Congratulations on the new disc.

German Cantillo: Thank you very much!

WBC:  In your thoughtful credits you recognize Santa Lucia the patron saint of light for illuminating the cultural diversity of this band. Tell us about your background and those of your band mates.

GC: Originally, I come from Nicaragua. Back the 70s we moved around a lot with the Sandinista Revolution and all that stuff going on. We ended up in Mexico. We used to visit this church in central Mexico and there was a little statue of Santa Lucia, The Queen of Light. It struck me as odd that the Queen of Light would be in a little dark corner, so that's where the name came from. Ten years later when I started the project I started believe in that little statue kind of beating the odds and I thought, why not call the band Santa Lucia.

WBC: And the other guys you've teamed up with are from all over, right?

GC: They're from all over the place. Most of the guys I've been playing with for a number of years. Byron Russell on sax has an Irish background. Brad Muirhead is local. He's from Vancouver and plays trombone. Anthony 'Chiko' Misomali on drums is originally from Malawi via Scotland. He's played on other records as well with Avril Lavigne and Bif Naked. Ryan Conroy, our bass player is from Montreal, and Colin Maskell he's a local and tenor sax player. They're all guys I've played with for years and they still enjoy playing in Santa Lucia.

WBC: You know journalists are cursed with making comparisons. I tried to keep them to a minimum in the introduction but you can relate to what I’ driving at. The funky, brassy west coast Latin sound has never been explored enough and I think you guys are truly pioneering resurgence.

GC: I hope so. There were a lot of issues at stake before embarking on the new record. You don't choose to make a record just for the sake of making one. A Province newspaper writer, Stuart Derdeyn gave us high praise to live up to. He called our first record we made in 2004, "the first funk and Rock en espanol record in the city." So, to break away from being a one record band, we had to set our standards much higher to come up with something strong, high quality, funkier, meaner, angrier and yet, unique.

WBC: Well, good on Stuart for setting the bar so high. The iconography on the package and imagery in your lyrics from big oil to homelessness to megaphones to the halls of justice set this album apart from the boy/biatch fare dominating popular music. Are people ready once again for music with meaning?

GC: You know what? People have always been ready for music with meaning. There's no particular time you can pinpoint that records weren't made with a reason. Let's go back to 2008 for a moment. Back then I was writing songs for what was going to be our follow-up to The Streets/Las Calles, but never materialized because of things that were happening to me on personal level. I was working for a local company with one of the worst safety and environmental records in the city. Litigation followed and suddenly I was fighting a legal battle with Corporate Canada. On top of that there was the passing away of a dear family member and my mom having a stroke. It can put an end to anyone's career you know. So, these songs were shelved. But, you never stop writing. There are a lot of events happening around the world and they just give you material to write about ... how you feel. The material is in the air. All you have to do is grab it, you know, political events, homelessness, signs of North America becoming a bit of a police state. There's the economy, because we all have to worry about where our paychecks are going to come from. So, that's where the new album comes from; from all that anger and frustration I guess. It gave me a reason to fight back; to write something more relevant. And, Suppressed Anthems filled that void.

WBC: worldbeatcanada radio is on the pod with Santa Lucia LFR spotlighting their second album called Suppressed Anthems. The band is totally plugged into your social networks. Make your connection by starting at the home page, German Cantillo is with us. You’ve had a chance to share stages with and benefit from the experience of some of the other biggest names in Latin Funk like Ozomatli, Los Mocosos and Yerba Buena. Have they had anything encouraging to say to you in return?

GC: Absolutely! These guys are all living the dream, playing music, writing songs and all that. Advice is given backstage and you share a laugh and you shed a tear.

WBC: How long has your relationship with your relationship with your guitar been going on?

GC: You know that guitar sat on the shelf for almost two years when I was going through that personal stuff. Lately, I've been I've been plugging in a lot. It's something that I am drawn to time and again.

WBC: Well, I gotta say, your guitar speaks in a strong voice. There are so many tracks I love on this disc and you can be sure we’ll be sharing them all on worldbeatcanada radio. We debuted with the album opener a couple of weeks ago, Mozambique. Last week we got into the groove of Russellfunk written by your sax player Byron Russell. Let’s take this home with War (It’s Only A Job). Can you set this one up for us German?


GC: War came to me basically watching the news. It's funny how the US has been in Afghanistan for maybe a decade now; as long as the Russians were there in the 80s. It's just funny to watch the 6 o'clock news and see these soldiers saying that war is 'just a job for them’; they've got to 'get the job done'. Those kind of quotes sit uneasy on my brain. How can you call war 'a job'? They're over there doing a job ... that's the way they view it, right? Maybe I can set the record straight on where Suppressed Anthems comes from. I have a bunch of songs that speak to people, not necessarily to industry people. It's hard to find a radio station like yours, Cal! Where, instead of chasing the artists and songs that mean something, they are just cherry picking material to bring us a particular brand or choice of cultural ignorance. Let me put it that way. And, the songs on my record in more ways than one feel suppressed from reaching the airwaves. We're not your average cup of tea. We're a cup of tea with a funkier side to it.  So, War (It's Only A Job) ... congressmen are having fun counting their business affairs while kids have no books to read in some parts of the world. That's what this song is all about.

German Cantillo was interviewed by Cal Koat on December 22nd 2010 for worldbeatcanada radio