Christian Castagno is an eleven time nominated and three time Grammy winning music producer. Growing up in a Gurdjieff School surrounded by esoteric music and sacred dances, early on Chris showed a natural affinity for “the invisible sound that moves all hearts” and at fourteen took up playing various acoustic instruments until he received a Casio CZ-101 synth on his sixteenth birthday and that was that. By the time he turned 20 he had returned to New York City to pursue music and production full time and it was there he was fortunate to get a job at the legendary Manny’s music on 48th street in Manhattan. In this same moment he met Walter Sear who became his mentor and later very generously traded him a 16 track Ampex for a mic preamp so that he could start his own studio because, in the words of Mr. Sear, “how else could I get him to stop pestering me”? From 1997 to 2008 he and fellow producer Danny Blume operated GoodandEvil studio in Brooklyn where they did a wide variety of records ranging from Pop, Jazz, Latin, Hiphop and Electronic music. In 2003 Chris won his first Grammy for engineering with the return of seminal Louisiana favorite Eddie “the Chief” Clearwater. In 2007 Chris and Danny were nominated for best Jazz album with Sex Mob’s “Sexotica- a tribute to Martin Denny” as well as winning a Grammy for “best world music album” with the Klezmatics. In 2008 Chris was again nominated twice for his work on Miguel Bosé’s Papito producing and playing on five of the tracks most notably Morena Mia with Julieta Vanegas, 2007’s most downloaded Latin song on iTunes. In 2010 Chris and his wife Tatiana chose adventure and moved with their son Apolo to the coast of Colombia to a little town hidden away in the jungle called Minca where he is building his studio and event space Sonido Selva. Most recently he was nominated for both North American and Latin Grammys for his work on Bomba Estereo’s “Hayo” as well as nominations for best global roots album by the Canadian Folk Music Awards for his production and mixing on The Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra’s 2020 album “Velkombak”. In addition to his album production activities Chris has fostered a substantial music and arts community in Minca with concert events as well as expanding his unique approach to teaching technical audio production and a broad range of related topics such as the math and physics of harmonic series, pitch and perception, acoustics and musicology. A veteran of over two hundred records his credits include work with artists such as Iggy Pop, Bomba Stereo, Arcade Fire, Kombilesa Mi, Los Gaiteros de Ovejas, Miguel Bose, Systema Solar, Ru Paul, Naty Botero, Felix da Housecat and many others.
While Li Saumet is best known for her explosive performances in front of Bomba Estereo she is also deeply committed to the preservation of Colombia's folkloric traditions and cultural ecosystems. You might think of Liliana as Sonidoselva's musical ambassador and we are proud to be working together on a new educational project called Musicaminca. Musicaminca is a higher education initiative that will create cross cultural and musical exchange between the coast of Colombia and international Music and Arts education institutions. Liliana and Sonidoselva are very excited about facilitating a significant evolution in the accessibility of music and arts education here on the coast of Colombia as well as providing a platform for the international music community to engage with traditional Colombian folkloric musicians.
Andres Alvarez is a musician, producer, educator and audiovisual artist. Andrés's work has focused on developing pedagogical methodologies for environmental and human education within vulnerable communities in Colombia. He has been making use of music and art as a bridge to connect these communities to a broad range of educational possibilities. His work is focused on two fundamental axes: One as co-founder and content creator for Jacana Jacana, a multidisciplinary project for environmental education, which integrates ecology, music, reading and art with audiovisual techniques. The other is as a participant in the National Geographic Storytelling projects as founder and co-director of the Fundación Mágica Música. This foundation now has more than 16 years of experience in musical pedagogical projects for children and in research projects on traditional Colombian folkloric music. Sonidoselva looks forward to working with Andres in the new year on a variety of concerts and musical projects.
Janni Benavides is a musician, composer, educator, illustrator and storyteller. She is currently dedicated to the development of new pedagogical tools for environmental education and she has worked toward this for 17 years as co-director of the Fundación Mágica Música. Janni co-founded Jacana Jacana, her environmental education project in which she, her husband Andres Alvarez and their daughter Julia promote environmental awareness from their home in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. With Jacana Jacana she has created a variety of artistic content, such as songs, illustrated books, educational videos, concerts and workshops. This project tells the stories of tropical ecosystems and their biodiversity and are made in collaboration with foundations and people working for the conservation of these endangered species. Jacana Jacana has also worked with different schools in the low buffer zones of the Sierra and other educational centers of interest. Jacana Jacana has also joined the National Geographic storytelling projects and went to Washington D.C. to participate in the NatGeo’s Explorers festival 2018 and again in 2019 for the NatGeo education summit that year. Today Janni continues her work with Jacana and together with Sonidoselva will be pursuing many new children’s music and education initiatives in the new year.
Sergio Cardozo H. Musician and composer from the city of Bogotá, who since childhood has been interested in the languages of sound, art and creative expressions. More than 20 years ago he began musical studies in institutions and universities in Colombia and Argentina even as he sought his own way of learning and understanding musical creation, approaching it from personal curiosity and continuous desire for sonic exploration. His musical interests include genres such as cumbia, jazz, hip hop, rock, urban, among others. He has participated as a composer and producer for puppet works and audiovisual productions, two of them from El Castillo del Gato company, winners of District Creation scholarships in the city of Bogotá. He has also been part of pop, rock and hip hop projects with which he has had the opportunity to play on various stages, among which the massive Hip Hop al Parque festival in Bogotá stands out. He is currently immersed in the exciting field of music production and studies here at Sonidoselva as well as working on a range of projects here as an engineer in the studio with Christian.
Bryan Jae is a singer songwriter, student of Kundalini, studier of spirit, and a lover of life. He found his passion for music at twenty years old as he started to become more deeply aware of worldly issues. Music has the ability to cross all boundaries and he saw a need for environmental and social reformation in the world with music as a tool help transform our day to day lives. Bryan participates in Sonidoselvas live events as both a performer and a member of a group of people studying music production at Sonidoselva on a more long term basis as he works on producing two solo albums. As well Bryan continues his transformative journey through the teachings of the Tiata's as he learns the formal ceremonies of Ayahuasca. Bryan likes to say "It always comes down to being a better human being". We couldn't agree more.
British-Colombian composer and recent singer-songwriter Vanessa Forero AKA Vanessa James has been composing since childhood. She first started scoring professionally for film and television 2004 and her work has been broadcast worldwide from the silver screens to home televisions, receiving many accolades for her work including winning best score at the Hollywood mini cinema awards. Vanessa is an accomplished performer and clearly comfortable on stage, she has served as keyboardist for various touring bands and artists since age thirteen. As well Vanessa has become deeply involved in ceremonial music and she has played many healing ceremonies, spiritual gatherings and sound journeys as part of her own spiritual path to reconnect with nature. In 2016 Beth Orton selected her for her UK show and a writers residency and this inspired her to expand her artistic identity. She picked up the guitar and started singing for the first time, learning how to produce, playing all the parts and she started to make her own records. and this has become a passion for her. She's also a best-selling co-author of the NY and Sunday Times best-seller: 'The Girl With No Name' which tells the story of her mother, a case of a feral child who was kidnapped and abandoned to live alone in the Colombian jungles with only monkeys as company. National Geographic turned the book into the documentary:“Woman Raised By Monkeys”, for which Forero scored part of the music. Leaving behind London and Brighton, she now lives in Minca, a mountain village in Colombia, where she’s building her new life. Currently Vanessa is engaged in several film scores whilst making a record with long-time friend and renowned producer Richard Blair as well as working on the writing of a sequel to her mother’s first book. Vanessa is a versatile and talented musician who brings a great deal of real world experience to our music programs here and Sonidoselva is delighted to be working with her.
Fabian Diaz is a guitarist, composer and educator with more than fifteen years experience who has taught at such institutions as the Higher Academy of the Arts Bogota, Gentil Montaña Foundation of Musical Studies and chaired Jazz studies in the Central University in Bogota. Known as a talented improvisor and professional studio musician, he is also a veteran touring musician having played live with Altiplano de Chile, Amerindios de Colombia and many others. We’re very happy to be working with Fabian this year to bring serious jazz instruction to Minca.