Singer-songwriter Nano Stern is an artist riding the crest of the new wave of Chilean Song, with a devoted following that stretches out from Chile, into Latin America, north to Mexico, Canada, and the US, over to Europe and down in Australia. On the eve of his sixth US tour, Nano stopped by Berklee Online to play some music, discuss life on tour, and talk about musical traditions from Latin America.
Life on Tour
First, Nano talks about how the excruciating travel itineraries, irregular sleep and meal schedules, and all of the sacrifices he makes are worth the reward of performing onstage for those 90 minutes. He also discusses how the logic of Socrates is relevant to working musicians today and shares what he thinks is the key to having a successful career in music: being honest. It’s not about how fast you can play scales, he says, but how your music can resonate with everyday people in your audience.
“Festejo de Color”
In the next video, Nano sings “Festejo de Color,” in this intimate performance from Berklee Online. The song originally appeared on his 2015 album, MIL500 Vueltas, a version which also included Marta Gómez, Pedro Aznar, and Susana Baca.
Conveying Culture in Songwriting
Next, Nano discusses the contemporary relevance of his song. He outlines some of the subtle nuances in that song, such as the combination of different musical traditions to highlight how it represents his grandparents’ migration. “Without saying one word, the song is already speaking of the mixture of those sounds, of those rhythms with the rhythms of Latin America, which is where I was born and where I grew up,” he says. “So before saying one word about the song, it already says what it wants to say just by the music itself.”
He says he wrote the lyrics in the structure of poetry called a décima, which originated in Spain at the end of the Middle Ages and became the basis of improvised poetry and popular poetry not only in Chile, but in many other Spanish speaking countries of the Americas. The songwriter says the most important thing to remember when you’re writing a song is that music is an instrument of society and using music properly can be very powerful in creating a community.
“Punta de Lanza”
Last, Nano performs “Punta de Lanza.” The song, though unreleased, is a highlight of his set, dealing with the topic of lost ethnicity in South America.
About Nano Stern
Singer-songwriter Nano Stern is a Chilean artist riding the crest of the new wave of Chilean Song, with a devoted following that stretches out from Chile, into Latin America, north to Mexico, Canada, and the US, over to Europe and down in Australia. His childhood was colored by not only his own family’s musicianship but by the powerful legacy of the Nueva Canción movement led by Chilean musical activists before Pinochet’s dictatorship a generation before. Legends like Inti‐Illimani and Victor Jara—who suffered exile and even death during these troubling times—continue to inspire Nano’s breadth of sound and emotion.