Julian de la Chica, whom his followers known as the “vagabond of the piano”, opens the doors to his home and allows us a glimpse of his life and its grandeur in which he currently lives.
Julian welcomes us into his home with warm hospitality, and his gestures instantly indicate to us that he is the ultimate gentleman. Initially Julian has a shy demeanor, he is a man of a few words, yet as our conversation continues Julian begins to speak in the most poetic fashion. It is clear that if he was not a musical performer and composer, he would have certainly made words his work of art. He speaks of music with such confidence and vast knowledge reminiscent of his former academic composers. Later, we are privileged to hear Julian on the piano, as he plays Bach’s famous piece, “Goldberg Variations” and fragments of “The Quartet Strings” by Philip Glass. “They are pieces of my favorite plays”, he confesses with a “childlike” enthusiasm, remembering how much Puccini’s “Tosca” moves him. Despite being a pianist fundamentally inspired by classical music, he also has a soft spot for the current trends of electronic music, and often visits Manhattan’s East Village to explore the newest upcoming musicians. Julian shares that “it’s something that I always think about, seeing how I can emulate those sounds in my own musical pieces.” Julian in his music makes references to today’s artists that influence contemporary music like Philip Glass, or electronic artists such as Bjork for whom he has great appreciation for. After one hour of a magical performance and “bulletproof” personality as he calls it, we snap back to reality and begin the interview.
Who is Julian de la Chica? Can you define with one word, play or city who you are and what you look for in life?
I am a man with many questions and at times many answers. My life transcends through a path that seems to have chosen me, without my knowing whether I chose it myself or if I am just a chess piece in this game of life. As Borges’ poem says, a superior will power directs my movements. In a global concept as a human being, I conform to certain social behaviors that are common for a man my age, in which they allow me a sense of satisfaction and personal growth. I feel very fortunate to have been able to rely on music (in its multiple facets of performing and composing), which also leads me to ask questions on a daily basis in turn providing myself with ample opportunity to reflect and reach the answers to my own questions. On a daily basis I realize the importance of growth and the process of evolution, it is essential to analyze and reflect different circumstances, experiences, for in return I am able to reach a clearer state of mind. I have learned that if you put in practice your experiences, the end of any path that you take in life becomes much easier. That’s why I can say that I focus on more important situations and I put aside any irrelevant circumstances. I am currently developing a character and a personality that allows me to live each day to the fullest, and my artistic creation is the center of my universe.
I feed my soul, and it starts from the idea that the spirit is the one who guides everything and everyone, and those who possess a harmonic spiritual life will see things in a positive light of happiness. Although I am sometimes shy and reserved, I always enjoy socializing in any outing with my friends. And, like any other guy of my age (and may I mention my Latin heritage), I feel happy, there’s always some place to go and I know how to have fun. I wake up every morning thinking this could be the last day of my life, and that’s the motto that I try to live by. I have my hands to play the piano, my mind and soul to compose music, and the path I lead in which what lies ahead is unknown, is a fascinating surprise… What more I could I ask for? Now, if you ask me about one thing that could define Julian de la Chica, I would have to say “New York”, because it is the city of love and hate, a city of magical energy that defies logic and rationality, a city of daily contrasts which constantly inspires me and that’s how I feel and wish to be.
Tell us about your family and Manizales, your childhood and upbringing. How was your first encounter with music and the piano, and how or when did you find out that you wanted to devote yourself to music?
Manizales is a wonderful city. It’s small yet abundant in culture at just about every corner, a city of “tango” tradition, pasodobles, and with a unique coffee aroma. My childhood was at the height of bullfighting, and my family is very traditional, religious, humble, and indeed a very happy one.
The thing that I will never forget is my first piano lesson with my teacher Martha Londono when I was 5. My parents owned a small business near the Manizales Sport Zone, and Miss Martha Londono’s home was nearby. I remember standing on my tiptoes by her window to listen to her piano lessons with other students. As my mother realized this, she took me to Miss Martha’s class…that is how my love affair with the piano began. After some years, I started playing many public performances and entered many contests. I began studying and traveling around the world, which allowed me to focus on music in a more professional and structured manner.
How long does it usually take for you to compose a piece or write a novel? What is the process that takes place behind your projects?
Music comes to me naturally in a way that I don’t quite understand, and I don’t care to understand how either. “She” is the only one, she comes and goes, and I am only her notary. First comes the solid part, an uncut diamond, the communication, the philosophy, then comes the ego and the humanly quality: making her agree with your concepts, brainstorm some ideas, and make her interesting depending on the field of art or context, but the idea is always a “suite” where I take more time. When there is a lull in creativity, it’s sad because I get depressed and lay in bed until it returns. I suppose this has much to do with my own mentality. Regarding the novels, I have already written one and I am currently working on an autobiography based on my experiences here in NY. It starts out as me sitting inside a café on 5th Avenue and 58th . The details are what are so special, like the perfume of the girl at the next table, the ticking of the clock of a man that sits nearby. The truth is, I have schedules for creativity, when she comes I start writing, composing, painting, or playing. And that how I my work of art turn into reality.
What projects are you currently working on, and what plans do you have for the future?
Right now, I am in the middle of the launching of my new album IRREVERENCE and its tour. And for this year and 2013, I will be working on the original soundtrack of a drama production that will be filmed in LA. I am currently working with a Costa Rican soprano named Ana Echandi, involving myself in the production of her new album. Although the future is uncertain, I focus on the present, dedicating all my energies to today.