HK Magazine Archive

Roberto Fonseca Brings an Afro-Cuban Sound to Hong Kong

The Cuban pianist works with Malian singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara.

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 February, 2016, 12:37pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 4:57pm

How did you two get started? We met when I recorded my latest solo release “YO”: She sung on one of the tracks and I absolutely loved the originality of her voice. After this we decided to put out work together, to merge experiences and the modernity and tradition of both countries, Cuba and Mali.

What are the similarities and differences between Caribbean music and African music? There are many similar rhythms, especially the folk rhythms. The differences in reside where the tempo is felt: When performing, it can change the character of the song a lot. It’s like speaking in the same language, but with different accents. 

How does combining the music of two continents work? It works very well. In fact, many times the results of this fusion have really surprised us, like it was there waiting for us to do it. As long as it is done with respect, it should sound good. 

How would you describe your music? I call it “open music”: I try to reflect all of my influences and experiences in it. And I never make my music for myself—it is always dedicated to someone or something, as it is my way to express my own feelings. I like to create musical dialogues where language is never a barrier. 

How do you work with Fatoumata to create your music? In a very natural way—we never impose or force anything. We try to find something special in the song and then we add all the colors, sounds and structures. It is a great process that gives singularity to each song. I love it. 

Where do you see the future of fusion and world music?  Music is something magical and very personal. It responds to feelings and expressions, so it’s good that there is a lot of range in different kinds of music and fusions. I am very open to this—but I never forget the roots of where we come from: our traditions.