7 Questions With SISAY
At The Andes Festival Market
We sit down at Tanjong Pagar Centre Park with the Ecuadorian band to talk music, nature and South American culture.
The Andes Festival Market is in full swing at Tanjong Pagar Centre, which means 7 days of authentic Andean culture, the finest South American wares, and music courtesy of SISAY, the famed Ecuadorian ensemble.
Founded in 1983, SISAY’s relationship with music fuses both love and legacy; the band was handed over to the current members’ by their parents.
Since 1994, the second-generation band members have played in over 15 countries, and created music that has traversed continents, from Europe to the United States and Asia. In recognition of their unique talents, the band was recognised as Culture and Music Ambassadors of Ecuador.
We sat down with band bassist Luis Roberto Tabi Sanchez and Pedro Antonia Maldonado Males – flautist and singer of Sisay – to talk inspiration, their love for music, and the importance of being in harmony with the world around us.
How would you define SISAY, or introduce your band to someone who’s not heard your music?
The name ‘Sisay’ means ‘bloom’ or ‘flower’. We are a family band. Since I’ve joined the band in the beginning, I’ve seen a few of our own family members like our brothers and cousins join and leave the band.
We don’t want to be labelled as just one genre; our sound is more experimental, and we have influences from all types of music in the hope that we reach as many people in the world as possible.
To us, it's really not just about picking up an instrument and making sounds. We play with our hearts… I think when we do that, we end up connecting with people and making friends from all around the world.
We understand that the band believes that music can create balance and connection with nature. Could you tell us more about that message, and how you practice it in your daily lives?
We try to connect with nature because Earth is our mother, and we feel that there needs to be a balance between us and her. This is something that we’ve naturally learned in our native life and with our indigenous communities.
There is a ritual in South America that symbolizes this balance. It’s called the Festival of the Sun. We make music, and offer up corn and beans from the bounty from of last year. It’s like us speaking the Earth, like a connection ‘We are here, can you hear us? Please give us what we need again.’
So, what are you guys listening to, and which musicians do you like?
-Smiles- I like DJ Tiesto: The rhythm he produces, it's very powerful, very easy to dance to. When I listened to his music, I thought to myself that I want to play like that, but not with produced electronic sounds. I want to play like that but with my instrument, the bass. I want it to be raw and real.
Tell me more about yourselves. Tell me more about your childhood?
My grandfather used to play music and he passed away when I was 12. He was a very big influence in my life. My father was a player of harmony. I went to school to study but of course I followed in my father's footsteps.
The rhythm of music was always something that came naturally to me. I picked up an instrument when I was 10. My grandmother did not approve because she felt that musicians have very unhealthy lifestyles. But to me it was natural; music has always run in my blood.
Having toured around Europe, United States and Asia, do you guys have a favourite show you've played so far? Why?
One of our favourite places to perform has always been in Singapore, because we just feel at home. It can get a little tiring being on tour for such a long time, but we felt a sense of home here in Singapore because we have friends here.
That’s so nice of you to say. Is it difficult to get close to nature, given your busy schedules and the performance venues tending to be in large cities?
-Laughs- Sometimes when you’re touring, you can feel like you’re always in a box, because you’re in a car, and then a hotel room, on the plane. It can feel like there are always walls around you.
We usually spend around 9 months on tour and then 3 months at home. When we get home to Ecuador we often feel very free, because back home, you can see the horizon surrounded by mountains, volcanoes and a lot of greenery.
And our final question for you: Why do you love music?
I love music because it has rhythm, harmony and melody. And when I listen to music, sometimes I feel immersed… I lose sense [of who I am]. It could be the melody that makes me lose my sense, or the rhythm, or the harmony. It’s like feeling hungry you know? And craving for music.
Looking for a dose of authentic South American culture? Head down to Tanjong Pagar Centre Park from 11-17 May to catch SISAY live, and peruse the finest Andean wares, trinkets and curios.