Pic: Francisca Silva Bravo
Jere Sosa well recalls his introduction to music at home as a young boy in the town of Necochea in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It set him on his life’s path.
“I remember my dad used to play his old LPs on his turntable every Sunday afternoon as a sort of ritual,” he reminisces. “He had a broad collection of records from all over the world and two pretty big and clear speakers, which later on I inherited from him. The memorable artists among his collection were Pink Floyd, Rick Wakeman, Frank Zappa, Luis Alberto Spinetta, Deep Purple and Kng Crimson. Quite prog, actually, but a few funky ones such as Funkadelic and some movie soundtracks as well. It was hard to get some albums in Argentina back in the ‘70s as the military government would ban many of them.
“One quite vivid memory is when my dad made my brother and I watch The Wall. I got a bit traumatised as I was 10-years-old, but I still enjoy that album a lot and that probably influenced me to study filmmaking and listen to Floyd.”
By the age of 14 Sosa picked up a guitar for the first time and began making his own musical discoveries. He embraced the pop-punk spirit of Green Day and Blink 182 and the rebellious roots of The Clash, Ramones and The Sex Pistols. Sosa embraced them all before the songs of The Beatles and the playing style of Carlos Santana made sense of the whole journey and began new ones.
“I fell in love with which would refine and guide my whole musical career: The Beatles. I pretty much learnt how to play every song from every album; I still love listening to them from time to time and I always play a Beatles tune in my gigs. It’s just a pure, true love I feel for their music, writing, harmonies and guitars.
“Another interesting moment was when I first listened to Santana's early albums and watched his live performance at Woodstock. This was a massive influence in my musical taste, and the way I play guitar. Santana sort of made me curious about South American music. As a misconception, most people think that we listen to ‘Latin’ music in Argentina, but only in clubs (laughs). We love English music and if you see videos of AC/DC’s gig at River Plate Stadium, or Pearl Jam or even Megadeth, you would probably understand what I mean.
“Many people have told me I play in sort of ‘Spanish way’, a mix with flamenco and that’s probably Santana's influence, and the endless search for a new sound keeping your roots disguised in a new genre.”
Sosa would eventually set off on a trip that would take him to the other side of the world and see him staying for some time in New Zealand.
“New Zealand is a beautiful country, and I had so much time to practise and play guitar in that astonishing landscape. I learnt there that I could make a living out of music. I started as a busker, but then bought an amp and pedals and tried to bring my sound to the street. My first EP was recorded back home some time after NZ. There were three songs in Spanish and two in English. With my EP finished I decided to try my luck in Australia and it’s paying off as I love what I can do here and how much people appreciate music.”
He made a new home here in Perth in 2014. In what Sosa says was a challenging time, he focussed on busking in the city and Fremantle, gaining a sense of place and how his music existed within it.
“Busking was great at the beginning,” he says. “Though I still busk a lot, it’s always a bit of an adventure. You go out to the streets and play your music, trying to engage with people and try to make them fall in your love with what you do. It requires a bit of confidence and willingness, but I don’t think I lack any of these.
“Every time I play a gig I will have a few people in the audience that met me while busking, and it’s a great feeling as they were touched somehow by my music and they want more! What else could a musician ask? Busking is also a place to try new things out, maybe a new original, maybe a new pedal, maybe a new version, maybe a new performance line. It’s dynamic and it makes you change as people walk and engage with you.
“After two-and-a-half-years I had a bunch of songs written in English, ideas that had been incubating in my mind for over five years. I decided to start my own band and play my original music.”
In October, 2016, Sosa released his debut album, Coming back home in two footsteps, recorded by Daniel Brown at Decibel Audio Productions and mastered at Poons Head with Rob Grant. The album itself offers a diversity of Sosa’s musical spirit.
“As the title, Coming back home in two footsteps suggests, the album has a very nostalgic and homesick aura, but essentially is a mix of all the genres I love to play and listen to,” Sosa explains.
“We have a funky song in Spanish (Nada, Nadie, Ningun) and then a few very deep acoustic ones, songs about break-ups and moving on, staying optimistic as there is always something better ahead of us. It’s really hard to explain, but I think there is a mix of genres and atmospheres that make you jump on an emotional rollercoaster trying to emulate what you may feel leaving home and establishing somewhere else. Some days you'd be all happy and optimistic, other ones you may be homesick and nostalgic, some days you won't even think about that.”
The album also features a version of Massive Attack’s Teardrop and the track, A Taste Of Honey, which won the ‘World’ category at the WAM Song Of The Year Awards in mid-2017.
“That song describes the mixed feeling you get when something has finished,” Sosa notes. “You may be devastated about that but hopeful about the future. And anyway, at the end nothing really matters that much as we are only passing through. That's why the lyrics say, ‘You'll be dying just like, next to me, just like me’. It was a very subconscious approach and I didn't think much about the lyrics until the song was already recorded and finished.
“I guess writing in another language has a very playful element, as you are trying to change your mindset and be someone else, or just another version of you.”
Sosa’s live band features Mark Beasy (drums), Manoli Vouyoucalos (bass), Daniel Masmanian (violin), all of whom played on the album, plus saxophonist, Joel Neeling.
“I couldn’t be prouder,” he says. “I love the album and I made it in a different country in which I have a chance to perform quite often with the same amazing musicians that helped me to create and define my sound.
“It has been an amazing journey and it’s getting better as we play more venues. We are getting really tight and creating our unique sound.”
Sosa still busks and plays solo, utilising a loop station that he adopted upon his trip to New Zealand six years ago.
“I use it mainly to build up layers in specific parts of my songs,” he says. “For instance, I may record three guitars playing different chords, a bass line with my octave pedal, ‘fake’ keys with some effect and even percussion, just slapping my guitar's body and neck. It's a lot of fun, a loop will never be the same as the one I played the day before.”
With his debut album out there spreading his word, Sosa is ready to roll at any given notice, be it as a soloist or with his beloved live band. There’s plenty of work still to do.
“Hopefully we’ll be playing a few festivals around WA and Australia, trying to build up a crowd and reach as many people as possible with our music,” he says. “I think the more we play it the better it gets and the message gets clearer every time.”