THE DISTANT SHEPHERD from award-winning classical guitarist & composer Santiago Kodela explores the full timbral and emotive range of the instrument in a solo setting. His performance deftly employs iso-rhythms, metric modulation, and chord harmonization to breathtaking effect — an evocative portrait of a lone shepherd tending to his flock.
Today, Santiago is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our composers and performers. Read on to hear his advice on playing with musicality and blocking out negativity in the arts…
What advice would you give to your younger self if given the chance?
Don’t take things personally and just keep on doing what you want. Seek advice from the ones who really matter and pay no attention to the rest. Frustrating over what a random person behind a keyboard says across the globe should have no impact whatsoever on your music and it is a little bit immature. But hey, we learn as we grow.
Take us on a walk through your musical library. What record gets the most plays? Are there any “deep cuts” that you particularly enjoy?
I try to listen to music from all walks of life. Though I really like progressive music, tending closely to the more heavy side of progressive music. Give me Opeth and Dream Theater any day and I’ll be happy.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
I’d say probably Devin Townsend. His music is crazy, eclectic, and super interesting. He is not afraid of experimenting and working along with him would be an absolute honor.
What emotions do you hope listeners will experience after hearing your work?
Inspiration and reflection. THE DISTANT SHEPHERD has very introspective and pensive harmonies and melodic lines. I really hope the majestic Irish scenery is portrayed in this piece.
What musical mentor had the greatest impact on your artistic journey? Is there any wisdom they’ve imparted onto you that still resonates today?
My first classical guitar teacher Maria Catalina Bello gave me great advice when she taught me not to be flattered when people say my music is just about right and is fine. I believe there is always room for improvement, and if people don’t correct you when they have the chance, then I should not fall in this self-indulgent trap. My subsequent mentor Marion Hyland really taught me to express myself and be musical and less technical. They both played a great role in developing my musical sense.
What’s the greatest performance you’ve ever seen, and what made it special?
Meshuggah 2016, Dublin, The Violent Sleep of Reason tour. Probably one of the best bands out there nowadays. The entire show, their set, their performance, and the lightworks were something I will never ever forget. They are a truly remarkable experience, not just a musical performance.