Saul Hernandez talks about his evolution as a composer
For over 25 years, Saul Hernandez’s music has been described as the soundtrack to people’s lives. As the front man for Jaguares, one of Mexico’s most renowned rock bands, his spiritual lyrics, often seeped in Nahuatl, have been known to transcend generations as well as cultures. In an interview with EXTRA, Hernandez spoke about what motivates him to create new music and what he enjoys most about the windy city.
EXTRA: Tell us about the program “En contacto contigo” (“In touch with you”) and how the idea for your solo concert was formed.
Saul Hernandez: The program “En Contacto Contigo” is a program offered by UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) with the intention of offering free art to the youth and to bring them closer to different art forms within their schools. That’s how they offered me the chance to offer free music. That started a project that was very interesting and very powerful [that evolved into] a wonderful connection with the youth.
You have been writing songs and performing for over 25 years. What motivates you to create a unique experience for the public every time you step onstage?
I think it has to do with an inner search to keep trying to figure out how you can continue growing as a musician and a composer. Right now, I just finished recording an album that will be out in the summer. It’s that exercise we’re talking about. It’s about looking at that inner curiosity with the intention of creating music all the time and looking for different paths.
These concerts have been described as “electric.” What is the difference between these concerts and your concerts with your band Jaguares?
They’re very different. I will be singing songs from Caifanes and Jaguares. I won’t just be a concert where you will hear strange songs. I will do a presentation of what I am as a composer and the songs that I’ve worked on over the years I have the opportunity to share the stage with great musicians like Marco Renteria on bass, Fernando Ron on the guitar and Gustavo Nandayaba on drums.
You come to Chicago whenever you’re on tour. What’s one of the things you most enjoy about the city?
There’s always very little time to see things. There are times when you get there, you have time to adapt, but by then it’s time to perform and time to leave. I wish I had at least four days to really see things because I know there are groups and it would be great to see them. Chicago has a vast art scene, great music, and great museums. That’s what I like about Chicago; it’s at the slope of a cultural transformation.
I was at a Jaguares concert once and I saw a couple who had no idea who you were. They were just listening and dancing along to the music. What do you think that says about your music and its ability to transcend generations as well as different cultures?
I think it’s very important, I think it’s very powerful. It’s great that people who don’t speak Spanish are able to go to these concerts and see that in a way that’s how we were with other groups. I grew up listening to groups who sang in English and when I was younger, I didn’t understand anything but I grew passionate about the music. It doesn’t matter what language you’re capturing. Music is emotion and when you reflect that emotion, it will erupt instantly. I think that also generates a lot of acceptance so I think that generates something very positive.
House of Blues Chicago
329 N. Dearborn St., Chicago IL
Friday, Feb 28, 8p.m.