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Chilean sensation Nano Stern has been called, “one of the most in-demand international artists on the domestic festival scene”, a statement which is verified beyond a doubt by the fact Stern will, this month, embark upon his seventh Australian tour in a little over three years. “Yeah, well, I think even maybe more, I’ve been there under different things, so maybe like ten times or something, actually I’ve lost count,” he laughs.
It’s the fiery talent he displays on guitar, the poignant turn to his deeply meaningful lyrics, his passion for not only music, but what is right and just in this turbulent world of ours that has seen him embraced by Australian audiences – I remember seeing him at the Mullum Music Festival a couple of years ago and being mesmerised by the intricate way he’d build a song, beginning with subtle melodies before bringing it all home amidst a cavalcade of power and the aforementioned passion.
It’s all of the above which has seen Stern embraced within the boundaries of his own country especially, a place where the 26-year-old can barely walk the streets without being recognised and stopped, a place where he recently played to 180,000 people as part of a protest, and a place where his song ‘La Puta Esperanza’ has been adopted as the anthem of the ongoing protest against the Chilean government’s damming of two rivers in Patagonia – Nano Stern is the voice of a generation, much loved in his home country.
“Yeah [that means a lot to me],” Stern says of ‘La Puta Esperanza’ being taken up so wholeheartedly. “And it’s kind of written out of the same motivation, it’s a protest, it’s a scream for reason to come to people. And I’m glad that it’s used, I’m always authorising people to use my songs in documentary films or whatever, and of course I say yes [here], it’s an honour, a privilege to be able to help through your means of expression.”
‘La Puta Esperanza’ is the first single from Stern’s latest recording, his fifth studio album, Las Torres De Sal (which translates to The Towers Of Salt) which has already been tagged by fans and critics alike as “his strongest work yet”, something with which Stern agrees. “Yeah, I agree,” he muses. “And for many reasons. I think I’ve matured a lot since the last time, things have happened in my life that gave more depth, starting with the writing, the lyrics, which unfortunately people in Australia cannot really relate too (the entire record is sung in Stern’s native tongue).
“I’ve also taken the freedom to explore different things in between the last album and this one,” he adds, “but also something which makes a huge difference is the way that we produced it. It’s like a process – the first album I recorded everything myself, the second was pretty much the same but with some guests, on the third one it was the band playing but it was click tracked, but with this one we went hardcore and recorded old school, completely live in the studio, there is no dubbing at all.”
I’m interested to know how he found this recording process then, given it’s not something he’d done before, either by himself, or when collaborating with other artists. “Well, it’s an actual recording, it’s not a studio magic thing,” Stern reasons. “You can hear the music breathe a lot more, it feels more organic somehow.”
Organic is a fine way to describe Las Torres De Sal – it seems to seep from the earth itself, the music as real as the motives behind the songs contained within. Organic is also a fine word to describe Stern’s rise to prominence here in Australia – from small beginnings to multiple tours in only a few years, and you can bet he’ll grace these shores a great deal more down the track.
Samuel J. Fell