It is a pleasure to share Amado Espinoza's musical world with you. A native of Bolivia currently living in Overland Park, Kansas, Espinoza is not only a master of many traditional Andean, African, Aztec, Hawaiian, Indian, and Arabic instruments but is himself an inventor of musical instruments, many of which he uses to compose original works. He performs regularly here in the Kansas City area and abroad, and you should not miss a chance to see him. In this feature, we learn more about Espinoza's unique musical background and his approach to creativity.
Please introduce yourself. How long have you been a musician and composer?
My Name is Amado Espinoza, from Cochabamba, Bolivia. I moved to Kansas in March, 2014. I have been studying music since I was nine years old, and started composing when I was sixteen years old, almost twenty years ago.
Describe your songwriting process. Who or what inspires you the most?
Some of the factors that inspire me are emotional situations, nature, and my visual imagination. From there I try to paint that, but with sound.
You were born in Bolivia but your website describes your music as “more than Bolivian.” Considering the breadth of cultural influences on your life, music and instrumentation, how do you keep your Bolivian connection in Kansas?
My music and my cultural experiences are rooted in the Andes mountains, it is always present within me, even though I experiment with different rhythms or melodies from other regions of the world. However when I play Andean instruments, or share traditional songs with audiences or for myself, it transports me to the land that I walked hand in hand with my grandfather, where I participated in native rituals, where I watched condors fly. It also helps to have some Bolivian friends here, it is comforting to share Bolivian food or talk about our experiences here in the United States.
What do you struggle with the most creatively and how do you break through that struggle?
The mind can be fascinating and frustrating. When there too many thoughts in my head, they become obstacles. Nature always helps me clear my mind, so when I feel blocked its best to take a break from my workspace and connect with the energy of the earth.
Where and how do you record your music? What advice do you have for others who want to do the same?
It depends on the situation and the material. In Bolivia, I was fortunate enough to have my own studio, where I would shut myself in for days at a time. Now I just have a portable multi-track recorder and I master the songs on my computer. I recorded a meditation album at Lake Titicaca like that, and the quality is just fine. It´s also great for works in process. I always recommend going to a professional studio, where there are pros that know what they´re doing, but if you can´t afford it, it shouldn´t ever stop you from creating your own songs. Recording is another art form in itself, it is a long learning process to do it well, but having recording skills does help you be more independent.
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The Music Never Stopped (DVD)
Great to watch with parents. A movie about the healing power of music, not just for an individual with an illness, but for relationships as well.
This film shows the light and darkness within the mind of the protagonist, and through music, he can express this complex reality in a sincere manner.
Not on the shelves yet, but I suggested it for purchase, as it is one of my most influential DVD's. About a girl and her grandfather's journey through the desert to find a sufi celebration that is held once every 30 years, co-written by Tonino Guerra. Pearls of wisdom through the whole film, plus beautiful music.