The work and work of the beat makerSoul AM was the subject of E7ereo's first chapter, a series of interviews and events starring artists and characters with stories and works that speak of city, music, art, literature, politics and far from the murky mainstream scene.
747: Tell us about your relationship with Medellin.
SOUL AM (Andres Madrigal): The city gives us first that all the experiences, and beyond the experiences the why and where of things. And from this comes my taste for music. I didn't grow up listening to Jazz, Funk or Soul, none of that, because my parents by their lifestyle listened to Christian music. Very quiet Pop artists like Marcos Witt and Marcos Vidal. From a young age I liked to hit things and that's where my interest in percussion comes from. One day, I'd be eight or nine, my brother Carlos showed me Nirvana and that's how I met rock. My practice as a drummer was influenced by many genres. When I was older I discovered T-bone, a Christian rapper from the United States; then I met POD, PAX 217, Hardcore and many other bands. I remember when Camilo (Londoño) showed me Bone Thugs N-Harmony. That day I fell in love and started researching and so one day anyone came into my life jazz. I had been in rap for about 4 years but this new genre sounded very different from what I had heard so far.
You don't train yourself. Everything happened to me in Medellin. The truth is, all this shit comes down to the point where I grew up and that's why it's important to me. If Medellin were an island everything would have been different, but here I am with those who are and with those I like to work with. Who knows what would have become of me if he had grown up in a horseback riding environment. Everything is very complex. It's hard for me to say whether or not I love this city. I'm from here and that's something I have very internalized. You never see oneself in the mirror in the morning and you say to yourself: Andrew, we love each other. You love each other without saying it. I think I love Medellin, but there are things I don't like. I thank D
However, I don't like many things, more than all people. We are very pretetenous here, we do not know humility. People don't know how to be "normal," and everything is fueled by the cultural influence and social impact that drug trafficking has had. Apart from this we live in a valley and this makes us regionalists. It's very rare because I think that all the chimba that's cooking in Colombia comes out of here.
When you get into the music story, you start looking out. I really like New York. Every time I go I always try to stay a month and go to all the places I like. I like New York so much that I got a part of Brooklyn tattooed next to Miles Davis and J Dilla on my back. Music to me is like a wife and if you do it, she's going to give you something back. People either give up or pull things out very easy and to succeed you have to know when to score the goal.
747: Which artists have influenced him?
SOUL AM: JDilla. "JDilla changed my life". Many geniuses of the scene admire and respect it, and thanks to it today things are done differently. But also Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Kurt Rosenwinkel – the contemporary guitarist – and other people. It's really a very difficult question to answer because I can't give credit to a single person. Finally I think the main thing is to do things right, to make good music demanding to refer to good artists... it's an endless connection chain. John Coltrane also has a special place in my work, but one thing that has really influenced me has been rap and blacks.
747: How has your relationship with black been?
SOUL AM: Cine Negro (Soul AM and N-Hardem music album) has many senses, and not just about black. For me it's more than just darkness and gloom. The black color has a spark. It's not as negative as people perceive it. Like black people, it has more flavor and joy. Afros are very special to me.
Cine Negro is N Hardem's first album in collaboration with me. This first job was important because it served to measure me and know what I could give. Film noir represents this evolution. Recording it was a movie because Hardem lives in Bogota and I live in Medellin. We met on SoundCloud and started talking for inbox. I never share my music on those kinds of platforms, but I put on a few tracks and he wrote to me. I went into his profile to know what he was doing and I found it very different from what we do here in Medellin. I was lucky because Hardem is so shy. Actually this had to happen, in him I saw a lot of talent. We recorded it in two days, from Friday to Sunday.
747: What about Jazz Affair?
SOUL AM: The Jazz Affair is a love letter to music and also represents a difficult time that was the breakup with my wife and the separation of my son. Now it's a scar that made me stronger, more tenacious and dedicated, otherwise I wouldn't be here talking to you. I lost one thing, but I won another. I wasn't there for a family life at the time. I always wanted to make music. I've never wanted to be the best, I make music simply, I'm a looper that's like making a collage, but not like at school. It seems very easy, but you have to find something special that makes it different. You get creative working with what's there.
The name Soul Am is not for the genre is for the soul and the lamañana. For me it is very special to get up in the morning, serve a coffee and listen to music, unpretentious, quiet. My music gives me peace of mind, I'm very fast.
747: How do you describe yourself?
SOUL AM: That's very hard to do in one word. I'm a multifaceted person. I get what I set out to do and things somehow always work out for me. I'm psychorily and I'm keeping an eye on a lot of details. I'm an ambitious person and I want a lot of things at the same time. If you're able to get big without being big, it's even more genius. Many geniuses are lazy and can't even get a chimba. I am tranquility, fortress and many pods.