Jairo Manzur: Shoegazer & Latino America lover!
Jairo Manzur is the creator and editor of the music blog Shoegaze Latino America, that has been rebranded this year Sonidos que Permanecen. It is a very well written blog, in Spanish, that focuses exclusively on artists from Latino America.
It has become a referent on the indie music landscape and I wanted to know more about the project, and the man behind it. I discovered a man with a passion for music, for musicians, for his culture, and extremely nice to top it all. I hope you will enjoy this interview, a wealth of information on one of the best blogs around.
NA (Noise Artists): Hi Jairo, this is great talking to you at last. Much more personable than all the correspondence we had by email in the last few months. You are a figurehead of the Shoegaze and experimental music in Latino America with your blog "Sonidos que Permanecen" (ex Latino America Shoegaze). Can you tell us how it started?
I started in 2011. I was living in Colombia at the time. A fan of Shoegaze, Dream Pop, and experimental music, I wanted to find bands in Latino America that were creating music within these genres.
I discovered a FaceBook group, "Buenos Aires Shoegaze" that was created originally by the members of Asalto al Parque Zoologico. There I met some great bands that were featuring regularly.
It was a great FB group and it made me want to start a blog, to write about that. I first did with very simple posts, with some links and info on the bands.
Eventually I started to look for bands in other South America countries. After a short while, I began to receive emails on a very regular basis, and it was easy to have material to keep writing about. In the last past 5 years, I never was left without material.
3 years later, I moved to Buenos Aires and I got to know personally many of the bands, labels and places I had written about.
NA: Are you doing the blog on your own or do you have other people helping you?
I am the only one doing the blog and that from the beginning. I was doing it in Colombia, now I am in Argentina. It is to a point where it flows very well, as I want, as I have honed my writing skills Since I started.
NA: What did you study / work at?
In Colombia, I work as foreing languages teachers. In Argentina, I am doing a Masters in literature in foreign languages. This background helped a lot for writing skills. Also, learning other languages helps to understand other cultures and way of thinking, that in turn help building my writing better again. It really helps to understand the world better.
For example, I use some of the philosophy from my studies, when I can, in the articles and posts.
I am not a journalist or a professional writer. I started with no knowledge whatsoever and learned to write better on my own. That’s why I decided I wanted to do something else than writing “reviews” only.
I did not think that judging music in terms of good or bad, or to compare them to other or to categorize them, was all that interesting.
I wanted to get stories, to get to know the bands and artists better.
NA: I understand. That's what I am trying to do also, being artists focused rather than CD focused.
Agreed. I think that its very important to read other sites in order to improve many skills and get new ideas. For Instance I learnt a few things from your site that have helped me to improve my posts.
NA: You write in Spanish. Did you ever want to write in English in order to help to spread the indie Latino America music better?
I would love to have an English version of the blog. It would be really good to promote music. The problem is both the time it would take and the resources (I could collaborate but would need somebody, or a group of people, committed to this project as much as I am, and it is difficult).
At some point I would like to créate a group of persons interested on translating that Kind of information. I think that an international community advocated to share and translate independent content would be very helpful to Exchange cultural information between countries and in that way break the cultural and language barriers we have.
NA: Have you done some other things than blogging.
I met somebody over the internet, that is the owner of a record label: Disco Dojo. It was formed with childhood friends, with 6 different bands which have musicians shifting from one another. After 5 years the record label stopped.
I am a big fan of their music and try to help them. It is a good exercise for me to help promote music differently. I do this because I like their music, not only because they are friends.
NA: Did you try your hand in music yourself?
I used to play guitar when I was a teenager but I stopped practicing at a certain point of my life. As I write a lot about Music the question about recording and playing Music myself its quite normal. I will probably try to “record” something at any point of my life, im very interested on trying something with sequencers, machines and keybords but right now I dont think I have the time to try it.
NA: What is your next step?
Not sure if I have a plan. My idea is to keep writing but in the future I will try to articulated better the content of the page. There is an idea to start a series of articles about bands of the 80s and 90s (some of them were already review but my plan is to do a more complete historic and cultural analysis) and if everything goes well a compilation will be issued with that material as a retrospective of those “classic” bands.
There are some plans about organizing gigs and helping bands interested in coming to Buenos Aires, we have done that with some Friends here. Its not always easy as Latino America does not have the cultural aparattus that Europe or USA have. Travelling is not easy or cheap and there are not many places interested in offering cultural options to independent projects, anyway I think its important to try to work on that and créate links between bandas, labels and organizers.
I hope to work more on video, as this is an área I would love to use more. I dont have the expertise but I guessI would learn with the time.
NA: Your blog was called Shoegaze Latino America. You have changed it to "Sonidos que Permanecen" (the sounds that stay). I love the change of branding and the new mission statement. Can you tell us more about the change?
I wanted to rebrand after 5 years. I was always interested in Shoegaze but not only. I love experimental music. For example, there is experimental fold is new, fresh and different at the moment.
That's why I wanted to change the name, to indicate that I was not only focused on Shoegaze only.
I try to get out of the genres and categorization. I do not like standardizing a band, referring to it only as a collection of genres or comparison to other bands. I am trying to change my way of writing to approach music writing differently that this categorization and comparison approach.
The change was necessary, after 5 years the “mission” and focus of the site have changed a lot. But most important, my ideas about writing on Music have also changed during the years. I try to get out of the genres and categorization. I do not like standardizing a band, referring to it only as a collection of genres or comparison to other bands. I am trying to change my way of writing to approach music writing differently that this categorization and comparison approach.
The new name gives a more open approach and that has allowed me to understand and write about Music in a more honest way.
NA: I completely understand. I am trying to keep this at a minimum as well, but I am still learning.
Yes, I agree. Music is not just a product, some merchandising. It is created to be played now and in the future. It created to last. That's why I chose "Permanecen", "that lasts". It is something the stays here and comes back, like a reverb.
NA: We have discussed a few times about the richness of mixing cultures and influences in music. Could you give us an example of a great Noise Pop and Latino influences?
There are many. Flores de Bach is one of them. They are band from Valparaiso, Chile. They are one of the best examples of Shoegaze and Latino connection. You can feel the spirit of the valleys, the mountain and the sea in their music.
In my opinión there is clash of culture in many cases that créate some interesting results in many bands Flores de Bach is one of them. They are band from Valparaiso, Chile. They are one of the best examples of Shoegaze and Latino connection. You can feel the spirit of the valleys, the mountain and the sea in their Music. Altiplano is Project from Peru that mixes a Sound influenced by both the peruvian ancestral Sounds and the european electronic and ambient approach.
Many bands in Brazil, Argentina or Chile mix shoegaze or post punk sounds with a more local approach through language and composition (La Suma de Todos los tiempos, Gorduratrans or Adelaida are some examples)
I think I collaborate with Matthew on Muso Planet Fanzine for around a year. It was a great experience. Each issue came with a virtual compiltation on Bandcamp, Matthew worked carefully on that trying to include a band from each continent, so each new compilation was an amazing way to get to know new Music from different corners of the world. I did my best to put insightful and interesting articles on each new fanzine and the result was pretty good, there is some writings there that I hope to compile at some point. Besides “Muso Planet” was a bilingual fanzine (japanese/english) enriching the editorial and musical experience a lot.
NA: What are you plan for the near future?
I am happy with the new formula. I have a few projects on the way, but I will always keep the blog. I am thinking of including some live recording of bands. I do that often when I am going to gigs. That would be an interesting extension to writing and help readers connect with the situation.
I would also like to create visual material. For example, I have section "jugetes para grande" (toys for big people) about specific instruments or technics, that I want to develop. Including a video of somebody that can demonstrate this instrument or technic would be very good and more effective.
I do not know how to do all this, like video or sound editing. May be I'll find people that could collaborate on the blog for this part. At this point anything is possible!
NA: Listen Jairo. It was so nice talking to you. It is way better than just emails. You are right, video is very good :-)
I had a really good time too. I am sure we will continue exchanging very soon.
Some more information on Sonidos que permanecen:
Bandcamp page with some artists and compilation that agreed to feature
We hope you have found this interview informative and interesting. Jairo has a great passion for his continent, his culture, his people, as well as a respect for all other cultures. His blog is really excellent. Read it, support the artists featured and discover a wealth of artistic talents.
Thank you to Matthew Bedford (Muso Japan) that first introduced Jairo and I.