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Spanish Chef José Andrés has an exuberant personality that is on full display as he shares songs he loves and his passion for his homeland. Andrés calls music a “great companion” and named the song that captures his “internal rhythm” as well as two tracks that celebrate different heritages coming together, as he does in his food. José is an internationally-recognized culinary innovator specializing in avant garde Spanish fare. He is behind the LA restaurant Bazaar and hosts the PBS show ”Made in Spain.”
For More: Jose Made in Spain
1. Macaco - Con La Mano Levanta
Raul Campus: Hey, Raul Campus here from KCRW, and I’m here with José Andrés, the internationally recognized culinary innovator, specializing in avant guard Spanish fare. He’s also the host of the show “Made in Spain” on PBS. We’re going to be playing excerpts of songs that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Jose, how are you. Welcome, Bien Venido.
Jose Andres: Estoy muy contento esta aqui. Thank you for having me here.
RC: So what did you bring in?
JA: Well, it’s probably one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life. To choose five! I do believe that life is like a soundtrack and my regret is that I’m terrible for music. My piano teacher always told me to do something else. But I love music. And my life I always have like that sound, that music, that song that becomes a soundtrack of that moment.
RC: I guess we should get into your first selection. What is the song that you brought in?
JA: Well the first one, Con La Mano Levanta by Macaco, which lifts up your spirit in the moment you may have a down day. So, it’s a very powerful song with rhythm, I love that one, the right rhythm.
RC: There’s a certain heat and an energy from the cooking and the food that you cook, so I see that the music that is played on the show is very symbiotic and goes back and forth and works very well together and there’s a lot of dancing and a lot of happiness in the outtakes and the little segments when you guys are cooking in the kitchens in different small little villages of Spain. Is that something that you seek out to do or just happens naturally?
JA: We need to remember that Spain is a mix of civilizations. We have a tendency, humans, to think that we are one thing, one thing alone, and we are pure. You know what, give me a break! Spain, we are as great as we are because we are little bit Roman, little bit Greek, little bit Phoenician, little bit Jewish, little bit Arab, little bit South American. And this is what I celebrate with this group.
We are a mix of many different cultures. And we need to start celebrating that mix in a positive way, because it only makes us so much more powerful. Macaco, the style of Macaco the group, is a style of different kinds of music from different parts of Spain, and even South America and Caribbean. And that’s why I enjoy that music because it celebrates different heritages mixed together into something that works very well and can make us so much more powerful.
Song: Con La Mano Levanta by Macaco
RC: And what’s the next song that we’re going to get into?
JA: Ennio Morricone has to be in that perfect, life soundtrack. And The Mission is one of those pieces of music from a movie that can inspire me. But the main theme from The Mission, this powerful movie, almost showing you how two different cultures can crash by not understanding each other.
RC: Like you said, it fuses two cultures, two languages, just two lives basically. Because you do your show, you live in DC right? And your show is very Spanish, in the cooking, the tapas and everything. But does it help fuse the two worlds?
JA: Yeah, I believe like the movie The Mission, which again was the crash of two civilizations. But, at the same time, people that were trying to bring those cultures together in peace, looking forward. In my show, probably you could guess I try to be a bridge, bring Spain to America and bringing America to Spain. That’s what I feel I’ve been doing the last 18 years of my life. And I guess I look for those moments that I find the same connections in anything in life. So The Mission is probably the soundtrack, this perfect example, I almost sense in this piece that someone is trying to bring people from different backgrounds, from different cultures, different social levels together for the common good of civilization.
Song: Ennio Morricone’s The Bridge
RC: Raul Campos here with José Andrés, our Guest DJ Project. So we’re going to get into another, we can just call this a classic. Elton John is one of my favorites. Why “Daniel”?
JA: “Daniel” mentions, in the lyrics they mention, about how Daniel wanted to go to Spain and Spain is mentioned a few times. And this made a connection with me. I used to think that a person, like Elton John, would write a song where Spain and the clouds and Spain in the lyrics, that was very important. And this song is old, it was what ’80, ’81 when it was released, and I was very, very young. I don’t remember the first time I listened to that song, but to me those songs that were in English that always had mentions in one way directly or indirectly of my country always gave me great pride. In my life I can tell you that many of these songs and so many more, they play that kind of thing that helped me to keep moving forward.
Song: Elton John’s Daniel
JA: Mr. Jones, I don’t know. I like the lyrics, but especially I like the rhythm. It’s kinda my rhythm. I do believe that ever person has internal rhythm that you need to understand, and it’s not easy to understand. Once you understand what your rhythm is, I believe you start behaving better in life on every level. I have a feeling that Mr. Jones is the one that has my rhythm. And every time I need to find that rhythm again, I will put that song on, but every time I put it on, it’s like finding again an old friend. And we need to start thinking about music in those ways. Music is more than just notes that sound in our ear drums. Music can be a great companion and you should establish a kind of a relationship with that music, almost like talking to the music. And that works for me, helps me find my way in life.
RC: So Jose, this last song we’re going to get into, Alone in Kyoto….
JA: Walkie Talkie, Air. It’s funny because I didn’t even know about this group. And I saw the movie, “Lost in Translation,” and probably the most powerful moment in the movie is when no one is talking. Again, it relates to these kind of life is like a soundtrack, and these images of Tokyo, Kyoto, very powerful images with that wonderful music that for a second, you wish you were there, in complete silence and only observing people passing by. So, this was a very unique moment. I left the movie theater and next I was researching what that song is, what’s that group. I have to get it. That was a kind of very unique moment. It’s the first time I left the theater with that desire of ‘I have to have that music in my ears.’
RC: Jose, thank you so, so much for coming in. It’s been a great pleasure, great honor to have you. Muchisimas Gracias
JA: A ti. Thank you.
RC: For a complete track listing and to find these songs on line, go to KCRW.com/guestdjproject