To celebrate Latin American Heritage Month, upcoming in September, I met up at Ashker’s with doula, yoga instructor, musician and songwriter, Sara Rodriguez. She shared with me her experiences in Spain, her life as a songwriter and how that all relates to literature and visual arts.
Rachel: Do you have any stories you would like to share about living in Spain that were awkward or really amusing?
Sara: Funny and awkward at the same time? I had these pair of flip flops that had really slippery bottoms. At night they wash the streets, and I was trying to make it across the street. As the light was flashing, I only had a certain amount of time to cross, and because of these slippery flip flops, I totally wiped out in the middle of the street. Cars were like honking and people were cheering. It was embarrassing, and in the middle of one of the main streets in Madrid, Gran Bia.
R: Oh no! They were cheering? They were like, "Yay, you slipped!"?
S: It was a really embarrassing and awkward moment.
R: And they were honking at you; we’re not gonna help you get up? Wow! Yeah. Living in Hawaii I got stopped by a cop once, and I didn’t realize I was jaywalking. I was just walking across the street, and it’s a small street, and I hear sirens. I’m like what’s going on I’m in the middle of the street. I’m like what’s going on. He stopped me and started to talk, saying. "You're jaywalking," and asked if I have 100 bucks. I’m like, "No, I don’t." Wow, but yeah. Well, did you like living in Madrid?
S: I did. I loved it. Transportation was awesome. Very culturally diverse city, so there’s always something new to do. You go to these palaces you go to these squares that have been around for hundreds of years. So it was just really cool.
R: Were there any fire dancers there?
S: I don’t remember any specifically. I remember more in Paris.
R: In Poland there were some. When I came to Buffalo and they were doing it, I thought that was so cool. When you mean culturally diverse do you mean people from all over Europe?
S: Not only all over Europe but all over South America because it’s Spanish speaking countries and Central America [that are visiting and live there]. Africans too. Chinese [as well,] which was really interesting. Their accents are interesting speaking Spanish. I had some really amazing Chinese food there too.
R: What did you study in Spain?
S: Two semesters Spanish Language and Literature. Literature, art. One of my favorite classes was taking art and museums in Madrid; so we got to go to Prado, the most famous museum there. We got to go to amazing museums every week. Art, literature, more advance grammar, more language in depth working with the dialects. Spain has five languages. Within those five languages, you got different dialects just like the U.S. colloquialisms.
R: When I think of Spain I don’t think of it as big as the U.S., but to know they have different languages is really interesting. Can you tell me about any artwork you really liked?
S: There were a couple pieces. Picasso’s War of Guernica. It’s black and white. It kind of has that cubism to it. When you see it in person, it’s the size of this room. It’s huge and so many parts to the picture. It’s about bombs being dropped on Guernica, which is this town. Seeing that in person is very impressive. I can’t remember if this was in Madrid. This is now ten years ago. Another one right outside of Barcelona is where Salvador Dali has his museum. I love Salvador Dali so I spent hours and hours there. It’s amazing.
R: What do you like about his work?
S: It’s so off the wall. So many little details. Actually my first trip to Spain when I went in high school. I took a picture with my film camera. It was a humongous mural as well. Not as long as the Guernica painting, but it was very tall. A man just his waist up. He has his head down and in his head there’s a crack in the skull. He has abs, but they’re flabby. He has this door in his stomach. It’s so amazing. I still have it in my room. So much to surrealism. It just doesn’t make sense. I'm fascinated by his life because he’s so off the wall. I have a book by him called The Secret Life of Salvador Dali. It was so crazy. I think , "Is this really real?" Every once and awhile I’ll read a chapter. It’s so dense and intense. From Memories as a kid and a chapter on his intrauterine memories where he remembers being in the womb. Reading his book helps understand where his art comes from.
R: I wanted to talk more about Saranaide. What about the title? There’s more than you in the band.
S: It’s primarily my music. It is a serenade. I wanted to spell it and have my name in it. I found an interesting description of naide. In Italian it means six. There’s six songs on the EP. A cool description as well. Naide is numerology for six. These imaginative women: sensitivity, living her dreams, social ambitions, creative, prosperity, business sense, fell in line what I feel myself to be.
R: What does EP mean?
S: Extended Play. Shorter than an album but longer than a song. The reason I was doing it is when I played these songs people asked where they could hear them. People ask me what are my songs like? Back to You is about childhood friends, really great friends. Nothing ever changed.
R: Nice to have friends like that.
Sara is performing at Slyfest and the Serenaide EP Release Party is September 17th from 6:30pm to 7pm at Ashker’s new location, 1526 Main St. Buffalo, NY. $10 Cover.
Rachel L. Johnson
Contributor Focus: "Buffalo: Deep Roots Abroad"