Our love for the work of Argentine producer/DJ Chancha Via Circuito (a.k.a. Pedro Canale) clearly knows no bounds. We, like thousands of others worldwide, have been anticipating the release of his latest album, Amansara, for years. The album is finally here three years after the release of his critically-praised sophomore album Rio Arriba.
Chancha is currently on a brief, two-week tour of the United States. I had the opportunity to speak with him before his first show at Los Globos in Los Angeles. There, he explained the long process of making Amansara, why he left ZZK, how he met Lido Pimienta and Miriam Garcia, and his love of nature and jungles.
Where are you coming from? Buenos Aires?
Yes, direct from Buenos Aires. It was a 10-hour flight. My brain feels like a scrambled egg.
You have a very brief tour of the US. Why are you touring for just two weeks?
I have to return to Buenos Aires to release and promote the disc out there.
One can help a person enter a state of tranquility.
You didn’t release this album under ZZK. Did you change to a new label?
Yes, I left ZZK last year because there wasn’t enough funding to print physical materials. Not vinyl or CDs or anything. They could only offer digital releases for their artists. We need physical releases as well.
Let’s talk about the album title. What does it mean?
Well, do you know what amansar means? Say an animal is nervous or anxious or perturbed, you calm it down by petting it like, say, a dog or a cat. That’s amansar an animal. So amansara is the future tense of that word, which I chose with the intention that the same can be done with a person. One can help a person enter a state of tranquility.
That makes sense. This new album feels more relaxed; the tempo and rhythm seem much slower overall compared to the previous two. Why did it take three years to complete?
It was a slower process because I decided to use more samples from other songs. It’s all legal stuff. There was a period where I had to replace samples in songs I couldn’t get the rights to and re-record the entire song with live instruments. There’s more live instrumentation on this album and that’s why it took so long.
After Rio Arriba, I released an EP called Semillas and that was the last time I used illegal samples from other songs. The shift happened because of opportunities in having my music placed in television shows and movies and so it was necessary not to have any unlicensed material in my music in order to avoid any legal trouble with copyrights.
Did you play all the instruments on the record?
Most of them, yes. Sometimes friends of mine help me record but I did all the work on this album except for “Sabiamanties,” which we wrote with Barrio Lindo and Sidirum but we did it all electronically.
How did you meet Lido Pimienta who sings on “Jardines?”
I met her via Myspace. That’s where I first heard her music and I loved it. We started talking and it went well. In 2010, I traveled to Canada for the first time and that’s where I met her and we became friends.
When did you ask her to collaborate with you?
Last year. I sent her all the files through the internet. It was a wonderful surprise as well because I love her voice. She’s a kindred spirit. I sent her the completed song and she sent me her vocals and melodies and it all worked out beautifully. I was very happy with the result.
What about Miriam Garcia who sings on the debut single “Coplita?”
A friend of mine had me listen to an album that she sings on called America En Cueros. That’s the first time I heard her sing and it struck a chord with me. I searched for her but could never find her. I didn’t know if she was still alive or if she had already passed away much less where she lived.
Thankfully, she’s a professor of Andean music and, as it turned out, one of her students was also a fan of my music and, thanks to her, we were able to finally meet.
Didn’t she also sing on a track on Rio Arriba?
Actually, that’s one of her songs that I decided to remix without permission after a friend played it for me [laughs].
This same friend, however, then passed the remix along to Miriam and said “look at what someone did to one of your songs.” She loved it and that was a wonderful way for that to happen.
Wait, so was your remix of Jose Garibaldi’s song also done without permission? Because that one appeared on Breaking Bad!
Yes, that’s why I couldn’t make any money off that placement because I didn’t have legal permission to make it. It did expose my music to lots of people who never heard me before.
Every time I head out to a forest or a jungle I take a digital recorder with me and record everything I can to use in my music.
I remember when we met in Mexico City earlier this year at Vive Latino, how you found a tree with magnolias. You were absolutely captivated by it. Do you have a strong interest in plants and botany in general?
Actually, I knew a lot about the magnolia because they grew outside of my home when I was a child. It has a very distinct scent that’s very strong but, of course, I do love flowers and plants in general. I grow many of them in my home. I love to be surrounded by the plant world.
Many critics who have described your music do so by pointing out the sounds of nature and the jungle and the place the natural world holds in your music.
Oh, I love visiting the jungles. I absolutely love it. You can hear that reflected in my music. It’s like that because every time I head out to a forest or a jungle I take a digital recorder with me and record everything I can to use in my music. Birds, insects, animals…
I heard some of those sounds on…it’s the eighth song on the album…
Coroico! That one has sounds from a jungle in Bolivia and a jungle in Peru.
Have you been able to visit every jungle in South America?
No, I’ve been to jungles in Mexico, Belize, Bolivia, and Misiones in Argentina. I love the jungle.
What is it you love most about the jungle? What always calls your attention to it?
The vegetation, the diversity of plants, insects, birds, animals…there’s always something new to discover. Nature is a marvelous thing. I love to swim in the river and spend time with the indigenous people there.
What type of music did you listen to growing up?
I listened to whatever my parents listened to. They listened to everything from traditional musica folklorica but they also listened to jazz, classical music, progressive rock…they listened to so many different things that I inevitably became inspired to learn about music from all over the world.
Finally, since we’re in L.A., what do you like most about the area?
I love the tall palm trees. It’s a beautiful climate in general. I haven’t been to the desert out here yet but there’s a nice variety near the area like the mountains that are nearby, the ocean is close too. I’m not a huge fan of the city itself. There are too many vehicles on the road and everything is spread apart like it wasn’t designed very well. It must be hell for anyone on a bicycle.
Amansara is available now via Wonderwheel Recordings.