Gepe Honors One of Chile’s Most Important Folk Icons on New Album ‘Folclor Imaginario’

Lead Photo: Photo by Valentina Palavecino. Courtesy of Criteria Entertainment
Photo by Valentina Palavecino. Courtesy of Criteria Entertainment
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A little more than a year after dropping his last album Ciencia Exacta, Gepe is releasing a new project that sees the artist plunge deeper into his folkloric roots. The album is titled Folclor Imaginario (Canciones recopiladas por Margot Loyola Palacios y algunas otras que parten desde ahí) and is composed of songs assembled by the singer-songwriter. Palacios is one of Chile’s most important and beloved folk music figures, and the album celebrates her life as the centenary anniversary of her birth approaches on September 15.

“Margot Loyola Palacios is one of the three most important folklorists from Chile alongside Gabriela Pizarro and Violeta Parra,” Gepe tells Remezcla via email. “Margot is the eldest and had the luck of battling against all kinds of adversities for the longest time. She was dedicated to her craft until her last days, unraveling Chilean and Latin American folk music…Her work is admirable because of her courage as a genuine artist. I was fortunate enough to meet Margot in 2013. She was a very charismatic person; you could feel her strength and beautiful energy when you were around her.”

As the title suggests, it mostly features songs originally compiled and sung by Loyola. There are also some improvised pieces with fellow Chilean singers Claudia Mena and Gianluca, as well as an original track called “Joane,” about a young Haitian mother who died in Chile.

The stripped-down Folclor Imaginario was recorded quickly, with sessions starting in April. They were mostly recorded live by an ensemble of musicians that included Miguel Molina, Claudio Constanzo, Gonzalo Gómez, Marcelo Cornejo, and the aforementioned Mena and Gianluca. “Our method was to copy the original versions of the song, then we would deconstruct them and rebuild them so we could give them a new personality,” says Gepe. “Something of our own – something a bit more Gepe.”

“For the recording, it was essential for me to surround myself with the same people that surrounded her for such a long time. Her widower Osvaldo Cádiz, María Ester Zamora, Pepe Fuentes, Nano Bahamondes, Paty Díaz, and so many others who taught me that folk music is a natural necessity for union and community. Listening, singing, and dancing to the music is a method of survival,” he explains.

“Much of what ended up on the record are boleros, habaneras, tonadas, and everything in between,” Gepe adds about the genres found on the record. “Rhythms that aren’t purely Chilean manifestations, rather ones that came from Cuba, Colombia, Perú, etc. Music, as understood by Margot Loyola and so many others like Violeta Parra or Gabriela Pizarro, erase political borders. That’s something beautiful,” he shares.

Folclor Imaginario is out via Quemasucabeza on September 14. Stream Remezcla’s premiere of the album below: