- label:Piranha Records
- type: Solist, Composer/Songwriter
It is not very often that a musician is as closely associated with a certain style as Chango Spasiuk is with Chamamé; outside the Misiones province of Argentina where both hail from, in the rest of the world, both are thought of more or less synonymously today.
The story behind the virtuoso accordion player and his music is of both a precise musical idiom in a clearly defined region – the tail of Misiones in the Northeastern corner of Argentina, the Red Land – and of leaving that heritage behind. Both of these at the same time.
The Misiones region is still rural to the greatest possible extent, its population mainly supported through the lumber industry and the growing of yerba mate, fruits, tobacco, sugar cane, rice and coffee. When the farming is done, people turn their attentions to their music – a mix of the predominantly Ukranian and Polish polkas, waltzes and schottisches of the second wave of immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries, mixed together with the musics of the indigenous Mbya-Guarani people and the first wave of immigrants, the Spanish and Portuguese colonists.
Chamamé is a music that is at once agitating and soothing. It both makes you dance and indulge all kinds of sentiment. Young Chango, being of Ukranian ancestry, through his father and uncle – first generation Argentinians who had still learned the Ukranian tunes in their original form from their father – imbibed Chamamé from his infancy. He took it with him when he moved to Buenos Aires at the age of 20, – fostering and nursing it in pure form, but also transforming it into something more complex on another level entirely. Like Astor Piazolla, (one of Spasiuk’s guiding lights as a musician) did with Tango, he opened up the compositional structure of Chamamé in all possible directions – old-fashioned Polka here, six-movement art piece there.
More than that, he developed his accordion playing to a level of virtuosity rivaled by few musicians in any field. Applying the full range of musical dynamics to his craft, he might be playing at breakneck speed one minute, then slow and quiet, down to almost complete silence in the next. It’s not about showing off, though, but instead about keeping your feet on the ground while taking off into spiritual space; about finding beauty wherever it might be.
As Atahualpa Yupanqui (another singer, writer, philosopher and another artist who heavily inspires Spasiuk) said: “the light that illuminates the heart of the artist is a miraculous lamp that people use to find the beauty on their way, loneliness, fear, love and death.“
Or as Chango says himself: “I think there is a difference between searching for beauty and entertaining yourself – yet they can be the same. And I am trying to play, leaving space for things to happen, so my head stops functioning and I am just playing and leaving space for something of a sublte spiritual quality to come in.“
(As told in parts to fRoots, 2002)
"There is always great artistry, the marriage of virtuoso talents and a deeply rooted affinity with Spasiuk's Chamames."Chris Moss, Songlines
"In some ways, a couple of hours with Chango Spasiuk is a bit like going to therapy. You feel sorted and more confused at the same time certainly more alert to music, culture and life in general."Songlines 08/2004
"With his scarecrow looks, with howls of creative fervour and almost terrifying mastery of the accordion, few artists can match the impact of Spasiuk's recent triumphant 'arrival'."BBC 11/2004
International Booking & Coordination
KAPA Productions, Katerina Pavlakis
tel +44 20 7095 9566
Zamora Productions, Benjamin Demelemester
tel +33 1 7118 1676
Link Kultuurburo, Dirk Seymus
tel +32-15 25 02 69