Hear interview with free-wheeling and free-spirited Dayme!

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Thursday May 26, 2016

By Marco Canepari

Interview: Daymé Arocena (April 2016)

Usually it would be rude to reveal a woman’s age, but there are always exceptions. Especially when it comes to an impressive young musician, composer, arranger and choir director who, at the age of 24, has already released two albums, toured the world, signed for Gilles Peterson’s label Brownswood Recordings, been praised by legends like Wynton Marsalis and Jane Burnett, and is representing one of the brightest rising stars of the new Cuban music scene.

Then, when it comes to Daymé Arocena, you can’t observe traditional etiquette. The Havana born artist is a free-wheeling and free-spirited musically gifted soul, all you have to do is listen to her words and enjoy her alegría cubana.

We met her few hours before her latest London gig at Rich Mix, held as part of La Linea Festival 2016. It also happened to be the day that the world learned Prince had died, and Dayme greeted us by softly singing her tribute to the ‘Purple One’: a Cuban rendition of ‘Kiss’.

Our conversation began with us trying to understand in which outfit she felt more comfortable with. Was it the musician’s, the composer’s, the arranger’s or the choir director’s?

‘I don’t realise that I’m all of those things. The crazy thing is that when you write your own music, it’s hard to have someone to understand what is in your mind and that’s why I try to conduct and lead everything. So, I’d say that I feel better in the conductor’s clothes. Yes, that’s when I conduct the choir. I’ve studied that for nine years in school and I have a bossy character too! I have the best feelings when I write my music and I realise that the musicians play what is in my mind. When they play the piece in the way I imagined it, I think that it’s all about that moment. Those other names that I have like ‘arranger’, ‘composer’, ‘director’ are just some ‘blah blah blah’, they are long names which say one thing because I’ve only got the one name, which is Daymé!’

To hear the full interview click here