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Music is a big part of Habana Shakes. Old, new, eclectic and mesmerising - it's the connection from past to present and future.
The Cuban music chosen traces a timeline of roots - from traditional Santeria ritual music to the Yoruba roots of Rumba winding on to Jazz fusion, hip hop and electronica.
There is atmospheric Avant-Folk from 90s Japanese ensemble Tsuki No Wa and Australian electronica from Quails and Tunnel Signs' Ash Moses.
Benny Moré was a giant of Cuban music, heralded as an 'unprecedented musical phenomenon' and 'Cuba's greatest musical genius'. He graced the big band era, the golden age of Mexican cinema and bought Cuban popular music to the world. We used 'Mi Amor Fugaz', one of the greatest boleros in the Trova tradition, to underscore Yelda dancing and walking along the Malecon and Maya dancing with her father on Father's day.
Every Saturday afternoon the Conjunto Folklorica Nacional hosts the Sábado de la Rumba (Rumba Saturday), a mesmerizing show of Afro-Cuban religious and secular dance and drumming at El Gran Palenque - a large outdoor patio in Vedado. It was here that we filmed Tambores De Bejucal performing traditional Rumba. This music is a direct link to the island's Yoruba cultural roots - and it ties in to Lejardi's musical influences.
We chose Yissy Garcia's 'Bikini Club' to underscore Teresita's scene in the tattoo parlour and as our outro - it's an irrepressible totally catchy groove. Yissy has a deep musical pedigree as the daughter of percussionist Bernardo García, founder of Irakere and Arturo Sandoval’s band - and her percussion is something else. This quote from Yissy's site says it all;
"If your knowledge of Cuban music stops at Buena Vista Social Club, let me introduce you to drummer Yissy García. She and her band, Bandancha, are perfect examples of how today's Cuban musicians ignore boundaries to create stylistic hybrids that have yet to develop accurate descriptions — or even names." NPR
If you have watched the film then Iván Lejardi needs no introduction. His enduring curiosity, love for music from all over the world and his deep respect for his Yoruba roots informs his own brand of distinct Cuban Electronica. Since we filmed Habana Shakes in 2016 Ivan has gone on to success with the duo Da Le (Havana). You'll see they also have recent ties to Irakere (as does Yissy), recording with Oscar Valdés, the voice of this famed Cuban folkloric group. Ivan's music is featured throughout the film.
Find out more about Ivan and his music here:
Wichy de Vedado
“I started in 98-99,there was a club here called Atelier, I often went on Sundays and I started to listen to rock and electronic music, which at that time started with Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and all that stuff that began to come from that music which here in Cuba wasn't heard much. It began to interest me, those sounds and that type of melody, then a group of Germans came here, also DJ producers, they brought lots of very electronic, very acid, very different music and I began to experiment, to create, to make something similar to that. And then I took it to those clubs, where they played industrial rock music and I said to them "look, put this on...", to see how it sounds, see how the people react - and so bit by bit I entered into this arena.”
One of the pillars and most influential figures of Havana’s underground music scene, DJ and producer Wichy de Vedado is also a gifted Cuban singer/songwriter. Best known for his unique blend of traditional Cuban music with modern influences, his style has been described as a mixture of funk, salsa, rock, reggae and hip hop.
At 14 he joined local band 'Los Gitanos', developing an interest in different musical styles and influences from around the world, becoming a sought-after session musician. His 2002 debut, critically acclaimed album 'Tierra' established Wichy as an important figure in contemporary Cuban music.
In 2006 Wichy released the album 'Agua', the lead single 'Mi Tierra' was a huge hit in Cuba and abroad, reaching number one on the charts in several countries. Also leading to a Latin Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, international tours and collaborations with some of the biggest names in Latin music such as Celia Cruz and Oscar de León.
'La Noche es un Espejo' followed in 2018, featuring duets with Omara Portuondo and Adalberto Álvarez. The album was a critical and commercial success, earning Wichy another Latin Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Tropical Album.
We think you’ll agree his tracks just blister and mesmerise throughout HABANA SHAKES, from the opening ‘Machetero’ groove with Joao del Monte x Yasek Manzano to the distinctly Cuban jazz vibe of ‘Mototanke’ as Yelda walks through the streets in Arango or exercising at the Teatro América & climbing wall to ‘Jack Attack’ featuring Pushin Wood & Jack Yglesias.
As Maya rides through a hot stormy night under flashing lighting from the Malecón to the Plaza de la Revolución, we hear ‘Tu Seras’, a Wichy remix featuring Cuban R&B, rap singer Danay Suarez.
When the skaters take over Paseo del Prado Wichy De Vedado & Joao Pglagarto’s ‘Estan Pa Calentar’ plays out.
In Lejardi’s DJ set at Sarao Nightclub ‘Guamparagroove - Abakua (Original Mix)‘ by Da Le (Havana) & Wichy De Vedado pumps into the crowd. Wichy and Ivan know each other and have also worked together.
You can catch Wichy’s music here:
Please check out these artists on Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Apple Music, many are on insta as well. If you love music like we do please follow, listen, buy and support the artists so they can continue their work.
Thanks, Marcelle :)
Wichy de Vedado
Jacob Forever with Farruko
Tambores de Bejucal
Da Le (Havana)
Tsuki No Wa
Lejardi & David Casas with Sosaman
Pushin Wood & Jack Yglesias
Silvito el Libre
Joao del Monte x Wichy de Vedado x Yasek Manzano
Alejandro (Alex) Benítez
Dominique Hunziker & Alex Hentze
Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott