“I’m just tired of being a foreigner,” says FEDERICO AUBELE, who has been living away from his native Argentina (in Berlin and Barcelona) and touring the world for 5 years; “I need to go back home to Buenos Aires.” Despite some of the remaining effects from Argentina’s economic and political crisis in 2001, Aubele loves Buenos Aires. “It’s like going out with a crazy, but incredibly beautiful, charming, and seductive woman. She might drive you insane at times, but when you take a step back and look at her, you’re reminded how much you love her and why.”
At the tender age of eleven, a friend convinced Aubele to be a couple of Beatles and start playing guitar – “You’ll be George, I’ll be John,” he said. His friend eventually became interested in literature, but for Aubele it was too late; he was infected by the music bug. From there he delved into music in all its forms and became an avid vinyl junkie. A few months here as a Kinks fan, a couple of weeks there as a Ramones fan, many more months listening to Mozart – followed by Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Smith, Vinicius, and Tom Jobim all became an important part of his record collection. In time he discovered the avant-garde Argentinean tango composer and bandoneónist Astor Piazzolla. “Piazzolla was the first Argentinean artist that I connected with,” says Aubele. “Prior to him, I listened mainly to foreign artists. Piazzolla sounded like Argentina; more specifically, Buenos Aires. It’s like Sinatra and New York, Piazzolla and Buenos Aires, it’s the perfect soundtrack for the city.”
After playing guitar, composing and arranging for several pop bands, and DJ-ing a wide range of music styles in scores of clubs and lounges in Buenos Aires, Aubele began working on a solo project. Based on sampled beats and sounds taken from his many records, he laid down plenty of tracks, which were usually led by a hypnotic guitar line.
Then Aubele did what any aspiring muscian would do.
“I had the Thievery Corporation single ‘Focus On Sight,’ so I got the website info from the back of the sleeve, logged onto the ESL Music website and emailed them asking where to send demos.” The first of these demos got the immediate attention of ESL Music label heads Rob Garza and Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation.
“I got a very detailed email from Eric, with a couple suggestions and he asked that I send him some more music,” says Aubele. The subsequent demos were equally impressive; Aubele signed to ESL Music and Thievery Corporation agreed to produce his debut album. The resulting body of work, Gran Hotel Buenos Aires (ESL Music, 2004), is a sound collage of Latin guitar, tango flair, and dub-influenced tracks with Spanish lyrics sung beautifully by chanteuses Gabi and Sumaia.
Aubele’s longings for Buenos Aires, and South America as a whole, set the tone for his latest album, Panamericana, released by ESL Music in September 2007. “I wanted to make an album influenced by the idea of the Americas,” says Aubele. He notes that although each country has its own, sometimes brutal, history, the Americas possess a unique concoction of people: indigenous populations, former slaves, and constant waves of immigrants from every part of the world. “I find the cultural clashes, mixes, and blends that have occurred over time exciting, fresh, and very young when you compare it with Europe or Asia.”
“Panamericana is more of a songwriter’s album,” says Aubele, when comparing it to his first release. “Although aspects of the sound are similar, the songwriting on Panamericana is more solid, and immediate.” Through it all, Panamericana is about memories and a longing for more familiar confines. Aubele says, “Life takes a different shape when you are living abroad. Your relationship becomes your country, your memories weigh on you in different and unpredictable ways, you long for moments that are frozen in time and can’t be recaptured, it’s all very strange. Then when your relationship ends you realize, ‘What am I doing here?’ I just want to go back home.”