Yaíma Orozco. Foto: Lurdes R. Basolí.
Yaíma Orozco. Foto: Lurdes R. Basolí.

Song by song: Mi libertad, by Yaíma Orozco

15 minutos / Carla Valdés

12.10.2020 / Interviews

It's Thursday night in Santa Clara. El Mejunje, the center and cultural space of that city, comes to life little by little. In its patio, around a tree that provides shade during the day and shelter at night, groups of people gather in complete diversity. Freedom of movement is breathed along with the smell of cigar and rum, and the strings of the guitars that are tuned. The bleachers around a brick wall stage are being filled.

Before starting the concert, silence.

A not very tall woman, with bare feet and loose black hair, lights up. She takes the stage with her guitar and her pregnant belly about to burst. Yaíma Orozco smiles, closes his eyes. Break the first chord, strong, and the voice, soft. A voice that seems to fly lifting the weight of the guitar. The whole body vibrates with the song.

Some time later, on a hot afternoon full of an predicted rain, Yaíma is on the balcony of her house watering the plants. From where I am I see aloe and basil planted in an old basin. The afternoon light touches her face and she begins to enter the house, full of colors and details. There are souvenirs on every shelf, hanging instruments, posters from a tour, a guitar leaning against the wall. On the table where I wait for her there are two cups of hot coffee, some sheet music with old annotations under new notes and a small open notebook with the list of songs that will be in her next album: Mi libertad. As Yaíma hurries to the table, I think of the meanings of a word as great as freedom. And so I begin: what does "your freedom" mean?, And we launched into a conversation for hours:

"Freedom is being the owner of what I feel, and acting frankly," she says. “It is wanting or desiring something and being able to do it. To have total control and to act as I please, in my way, with my times. No obligations or patterns imposed by someone: without permission. It is letting my emotions flow. Making songs has shown me the path of dispossession. The creation is daring and has no fear or prejudice. That process for me is a complete liberation ”.

Photo: Courtesy of Yaíma Orozco.

Photo: Courtesy of Yaíma Orozco.

A hug every time

“To make a song I don't have an established format, it happens without warning. Sometimes when I have long stages without composing I force myself a little, I review papers, I play the guitar, I put chords and I invent melodies: provoking myself. The process of the song in me responds to the day to day, to my experiences and emotions, which makes me vibrate, makes me happy or sad. One day it happens that all that accumulated feeling is transformed and becomes a song. It is like a channel or an outlet that eternalizes key moments. What I do need is to be alone for it to happen. Sometimes they snap off, other times they stagnate and it can take months, years, until they finally bloom. Either way it's magic to me.

"A hug every time es una canción a la guitarra y una declaración de amor. Suelo tener largas crisis de tendinitis en las que no puedo tocar la guitarra, aunque no dejo de cantar nunca. Esas temporadas me entristecen mucho y me desesperan: me siento presa. Disfruto cantar, pero es distinta la manera cuando no me acompaño yo misma, la voz toma caminos diferentes. Esta canción la hice justo después de pasar cuatro meses sin poder tocar y me salió al primer intento. Le hablo a ella, a la guitarra. Le cuento la falta que me hace: Si tú me faltas habrá un dolor, puede que cante, pero sin tu cuerpo no hay oración que me salve…”.


“I have no preferences in terms of genres to compose or perform a song. A bolero or a habanera is almost always associated with nostalgia; the son is more fun and carefree; rock is strength, determination, rebellion; the tango, the passionate, the torn. When I did Callejón I didn't think that. It was a very necessary song at a time in my life when I lacked the courage to make decisions. It is a theme that, beyond me, rejects ties and invites us to dare, to walk. Alley set me free. It made me focus on my feelings. I did it without a guitar because I was going through one of those tendonitis crises. As I couldn't wait to heal to see what it would sound like, I sang it to Alain Garrido and he brought out the basic harmony, guided by the melody and rhythm that I was doing with my hands on the table. It turned out to be a tango! The arrangement for the album makes me shudder. The format is very simple and very deep: Gastón Joya on double bass, firmly; two guitars played by Alfred Artigas and Carlos Ledea; and the Buenos Aires bandoneon by Pablo Yanis. Deep down, I notice an air of bolero that I like. She is the number one candidate for the video clip ”.

De soñarte

“I always sang as a child in school. I chose the songs of Silvio, Pablo, Sara, I liked listening to Miriam Ramos, Elena Burke, Celina González. Raúl Cabrera, from the Enserie Trio, gave me Music Education classes. He was the one who taught me songs from the old trova, he even accompanied me with his guitar at pioneer festivals. I followed his advice one by one. That is why I graduated - like him - in Music Education at the Félix Varela Pedagogical School in Villa Clara. De soñarte is a song that is born from all these references. It's from 2007, more or less. I started composing in 2005, recently graduated from Pedagogical and closely linked to La Trovuntivitis. I loved El Mejunje and that project from the first time I went: because it was authentic, because it was different, because of the songs they sang. I became a regular at the rock and concerts, and it became increasingly normal to share other moments with them, more informal spaces, downloads at friends' houses, with poets, with other artists from the city, in the park. One thing led to another. I stopped being in the public to be in the dressing room waiting to sing with Leonardo García or Diego Gutiérrez. I knew all the songs and learned to make voices. It was the perfect setting for creation to be unleashed in me. I had the best teachers, the most admired by me, the most loving. With the certainty that I began to have of having finally found the path that I had sought so much and the confidence that they gave me from the beginning; It was just a matter of time - I think now - to write my own music. So it was. Fifteen years later, I feel like a very lucky woman and I am proud of myself for having been true to my dreams. "

Foto: Lurdes R. Basolí.

Foto: Lurdes R. Basolí.


“The production of the album, putting together the whole process and thinking about the times according to the moments, we did it between Raúl Marchena, Alfred Artigas and me. Alfred was in charge of the arrangements and assembly with the musicians - who were many - and Marchena, of the production, along with me. He was the main promoter of this project. If he is, I am calm. In addition, Gisela Saíz, Migue De La Rosa, also a member of La Trovuntivitis and a life partner, my sister Yaily and even my mother joined in helping. Involving family and friends in projects is a specialty that I have. But it was the first time in one this big. We spent months with Alfred thinking about the arrangements, the instruments, summoning the musicians, recording demos, accommodating everyone's agendas. A month before we rehearsed together because we wanted to record an album as close to a live show to achieve the warmth, fluidity and energy of the live show. The house in disco time was a camp. They were beautiful and exhausting days. The new arrangements demanded another way of singing and if that connection with the band had not been achieved, I think it would not have been the same. Yaíma with voice and guitar is very different from Yaíma with a band ”.

"Abundante es una canción sugerida, se pudiera decir. Fue Alfred quien, en una conversación sobre el proceso de componer, me dijo que probara elegir un tema, un motivo, y que escribiera sobre eso. Entonces, como si fuese un juego, pensé hacer una canción usando adjetivos y salió esta. Describe un amor tremendo con todas sus aristas: un amor transformado y revolucionario. Fue un ejercicio que, ahora con este arreglo para el disco, agarró un hermoso vuelo. Es uno de los temas que más me gusta”.


"Amazona, en un arreglo con cuerdas y yo cantando solamente, fue como flotar. No es la única así en el álbum. De 10 canciones que tiene Mi libertad, toqué la guitarra únicamente en cuatro. Cantar sin tocar la guitarra es algo que vengo experimentando a partir del trabajo a dúo con Alfred Artigas desde el 2013, también por lo que él me provoca cuando toca este instrumento. Tener la voz como única manera de mostrar la canción me hace cantarla de una forma diferente y eso me gusta. Es un retozo con la melodía todo el tiempo. Me encanta moverla de su lugar con la confianza de que la base la están haciendo otros y yo sólo debo dejarme llevar por sus timbres y cadencias. En las primeras reuniones con Alfred para soñar el disco le pedí un arreglo así, de cuerdas, quería escuchar la profundidad del chelo, del contrabajo. Creo que logró el punto exacto, eligiendo esta canción para hacerlo. La siento como una mezcla perfecta entre la ternura y la suavidad de la sonoridad de estos instrumentos, y la fuerza y la convicción que quise expresar con este tema. Amazona es un canto al valor y la entrega sin miedo. Una canción en la que me reconozco y me acepto. Es mi canción de lucha contra lo establecido, pero desde el amor. Me gusta mucho cómo Alfred la vistió para mí”.

Nueva melodía

After Mi libertad I would like to make an acoustic album with a small format where I interpret female singers such as Violeta Parra, Teresita Fernández. I am unable to project in the long term, but one always wants things and imagines. New melody is one of my first songs and my first son. I included it in the album together with De soñarte because I wanted to show a bit the way from my beginnings until now, taking advantage of the fact that they would be officially registered thanks to Bis Music. That's why I also included From Me and Grace which were already recorded on a previous independent album. I remember when I sang it for the first time - at dawn, as appropriate - next to a river at the Las Clavellinas campsite in Camagüey. That night was an injection of courage, a push. In Mi Libertad, the arrangement of this song was done in a more group way. At the last minute in the studio, ideas from Gastón, Armando Osuna, Oscar Sánchez and Iran Farías El Menor jumped to take the reins. It was fun".

Desde mí

"Desde mí casi fue el nombre del disco. Es una canción que escribí para mi padre después de su muerte. A él está dedicado este álbum. Esta canción ya estaba grabada en Grace (2013), a dúo con Alfred Artigas; pero tenía clarísimo que quería retomarla. Era necesaria. Cuando trabajábamos con Alfred en el formato para el disco imaginamos un arreglo de fuerza para este tema. Yo quería rock: batería, percusiones; pero quería también suavidad. Esta es una canción que me dolió mucho y ahora me alegra. Tiene la tristeza tremenda que sufrí y el dolor que el tiempo ayuda a poner en un sitio de amor y recuerdos. Ese espíritu era para mí esencial en el nuevo arreglo y Alfred lo consiguió, gracias a su talento y a la complicidad que hemos llegado a tener haciendo música juntos. Es como si pudiera verme por dentro. Y eso que mis maneras de explicar la música son rústicas. Casi bailo cuando explico una canción. Cuando imaginé este fonograma pensé en él enseguida para los arreglos, no podía ser otro. Luego fui más allá y, cerveza en mano, una noche le propuse la producción musical”.


“Studio work is something I love. We recorded Mi libertad for 12 days in a row, with which we achieved a rhythm that, on the one hand, left little room for doubt, but on the other, it put us at maximum delivery, connection. There was nothing to think about other than the album, and we didn't want to. It was beautiful to see how it was taking shape, sound by sound. The musicians we work with are all amazing. Once the bases and instruments were in place, I had to put my voice on top. All that sounding, for me, was immense. I was scared, I was moved, I cried. Sebastián Perkal, Argentine sound engineer and music producer who summoned this album, made everything easy. Some instruments were later recorded: the bandoneon by Pablo Yanis and the drums by Mariano Tiki Cantero, from Argentina, and the trombone by Rita Payés, from Barcelona. Now I listen to us and I am surprised at what has been achieved. "Remolino was born getting me off a bus full of people in Havana. The song is not about that at all, but the title is. The moments when a melody can arrive are unexpected. Originally Remolino is a son, but then I wanted to. turn it into a guaguancó. It was the last of the arrangements. Irina González from Toulouse, on vocals, and Michel Hernández El Gato from Miami, on electric bass, participated as guests.

"Remolino nació bajándome de una guagua repleta de gente en La Habana. No va de eso la canción, para nada, pero el título sí. Son insospechados los momentos en los que puede llegar una melodía. Originalmente Remolino es un son, pero luego quise convertirlo en guaguancó. Fue el último de los arreglos. Participaron como invitados Irina González desde Toulouse, en las voces, y Michel Hernández El Gato desde Miami, en el bajo eléctrico.


"Vuelve es una canción de amor vieja que pide amor, porque no se conforma con la calma, con la costumbre. Quiere movimiento, atrevimiento, quiere pasión. Es una canción de claridad y añoranza. Me provoca nostalgia todo lo que una vez me movió cosas fuertes dentro, y un día deja de ser así. No lo soporto y me aferro para recuperarlo. Apelo a todo sin cansancio, sin perder esperanzas: sufro. Me pasa con las relaciones de amor que acaban y luego me resisto a que mueran. Las mantengo a fuerza de dolor primero, pero luego las ubico en un nuevo lugar donde pueden seguir siendo bellas. Me pasa con los amigos que, por situaciones de la vida, se alejan, con los lugares en que fui feliz. Me gusta volver, recordar, rememorar. No vivo la nostalgia con tristeza. La he convertido en herramienta que me impulsa a buscar caminos para recuperar y acercar lo que quiero y extraño”.

Viento y lejanía

"Viento y lejanía es la canción que cierra el disco y es el arreglo más parecido a la Yaíma que soy en la música: voz y guitarra cantando a la vez un ritmo nuestro, una habanera. La comparto con la artista catalana Rita Payés. Con este tema estoy agradeciendo a todos los que se involucraron en el disco. Es la canción de despedida. Queda en el deseo poder hacer un EPK del álbum. Tenemos todo filmado: ensayos, grabación en el estudio, comidas, fiestas. Quisiera, además, poder hacer un DVD de un concierto en vivo que capte toda la emoción y la energía. Presentarlo en el Teatro de Santa Clara con los músicos y cantarlo para el público de siempre. Si tengo que elegir dónde presentar Mi Libertad entre todos los lugares del mundo, elijo Santa Clara.

“Vendrán nuevos proyectos, nuevas experiencias que darán vida a otras canciones. En lo personal este nuevo viaje que estoy haciendo a la maternidad me tiene con muchas expectativas, con temor y con el pecho a reventar lleno de nuevas emociones. Han sido meses de mucha intensidad y muchos cambios. De jugar a imaginar mi vida en adelante. El disco está por salir y mi niña acaba de nacer. Tendré dos hijas de un tirón. ¡Voy a morir de amor!”.



Carla Valdés

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