«We are a bit of David against several Goliaths, but that fact also gives us character»

From the sidewalk, under the front door of the Sunset Marquis hotel, you can read: “Respect this place because we like it, because everyone who spends time here feels an affinity for it. Don’t destroy it, although it is a nice place to be self-destructive. A welcome dedicated to the musicians who have contributed for 50 years to building the legend of this mythical place in Los Angeles. Added to the stories of the Sunset Marquis today is that of Alberto Iglesias, the Spanish musician and composer nominated for an Oscar for his brilliant score in the film Madres Paralelas. If the Sunset Marquis and rock and roll are intricately intertwined, the same is true with Iglesias and Pedro Almodóvar, a relationship indestructible to discouragement, the passage of time, the ups and downs of life, self-destruction and success. Iglesias, nominated three times for an Oscar for The Constant Gardener, The Kite Runner and The Mole, has needed to shoot thirteen films with Almodóvar to achieve recognition from the Academy alongside him. This 66-year-old musician from San Sebastian, one of the most unique and admired voices in music and composition, confesses to accepting the recognition with serenity. Having just landed, Iglesias received us exclusively in the legendary corner of Sunset that they call the Mecca of musicians.

-How do you feel right now, when there are a few hours left until the Oscars ceremony?

-The campaign has been long. From starting to think that this could be possible, then the nomination and now the ceremony, it’s been a long time. It’s been too long for me. I hadn’t gotten into the situation either until I arrived in Los Angeles. I haven’t been to Los Angeles in a long time and I was impressed.

-How long has it been since your last visit to Los Angeles?

-I think it hasn’t come since the previous nomination with El Topo. I like the city a lot, it brings back very good memories and today I felt a quick connection with the city, with the fact of coming to the Oscars. The truth is, until now, and I have talked a lot about the film, I did not anticipate the ceremony. But in this hotel I’m in my element

-They say that any musician is in his element at the Sunset Marquis. Is this a mythical place for musicians?

-Yes, this hotel is a classic of music and cinema. It is a very nice atmosphere, very relaxed. It is very special because of the history it has. Almost all the musicians have passed through here and the energy is noticeable.

-Does it seem unfair to you that your Oscar has been removed from the awards ceremony?

-Yeah. It seemed silly to me. An academy that teaches that cinematographic art is an art made up of many professions in which we are all filmmakers and are equal has made this decision, it seems silly to me. He has won the search for a television network show. In principle, we put pressure on the musicians not to come to the Oscars luncheon, but I thought I should come to defend the film and feel as much a filmmaker as the production directors, the hairdressers, the short filmmakers or the editors, who are the highest level of our profession.

-There are voters boycotting the decision, some are not going to vote and others will vote blankly.

-It is probable. I think it was a mistake, but, from what I know, it has won that it has to be a show and that the stars are the ones who have the pull. I hope that this decision will not continue in the future. If it continued, I think it is reason to drop out of an academy.

-You have been nominated four times with directors who are not North American, do you think that has helped you?

-I think so. I have always come with films that have a lot of personality, auteur films. This time I come with one by Pedro Almodóvar, my thirteenth film with him, and that makes the nomination very different

-Did it hurt you that Pedro was not nominated?

-Yes, it hurt me. I would have liked him to have been nominated as a film, as a screenwriter and director. Now Penelope and I represent him, but it would have been perfect to have him here. There is a montage of his work in the Academy Museum because Pedro in the United States has the dimension of a great author, almost a classic, and that is a source of pride for me.

-Do you think you can win the Oscar?

-Although they tell us that our score has no chance of winning, I almost don’t care, defending Pedro’s film from the music seems a source of pride to me.

-Don’t you feel like a favorite?

-We are a bit of David against several Goliaths, but that fact also gives us character

-Dream or have dreamed of the Oscar

-No. I’ve never finished thinking about it. I came to enjoy, like the other times I came before and didn’t win. I have always thought that whatever happened to me gave me freedom. I wish for it, but it’s not such a big wish. I have not imagined myself with that object in my hands

-Do you have a favorite of the composers nominated in your category?

-I like many of Jonny Greenwood’s works, I think he has enormous talent and great freedom. Britell is a great musician, who I know. Hans Zimmer has made a school and it is the most imitated style, he is the most powerful man in music. And Germaine Franco has done a great job of researching popular music. There is a little bit of everything in the five candidates, each one of us is different and that is a wealth.

-Parallel Mothers was created in Pandemia and is a film with a political tone that none of Almodóvar’s had ever had. In that sense is there an existentialist approach?

-Like all of Pedro’s films, they have a very great symbolic power. They also have the value of interpreting the contemporary, the current, the moment, but I believe that the film is very symbolic. The fact that it begins in childbirth and ends in a grave covers the entire life journey. That extensive dimension inspired me. I would say that the political dimension is metaphysical, apart from the fact that it is talking about very specific facts, it talks about historical memory, but it is framed in something that is common to many cultures and many peoples. Something that has to do with the interpretation and explosive dimension of birth and the power of life and the power of death and the unrecognized dead that are all over the world. Dead people who have not been cared for by their family. That thing with the ancestors is what has inspired me.

-Did working during the pandemic affect you?

-Fear affected me. The fear of suffering from the disease. I think that fear has made us more sensitive, more empathetic with people who suffer. That fear made me work harder because it was harder for me to finish the work. I think I dedicated myself more

-How do you see the evolution of music since your first nomination, taking into account that you are now competing with some younger composers?

-I don’t feel in competition with anyone. Maybe finding myself here is luck or it’s because of the size of things. Each generation tries to tell what happens to them, imagine what is happening and get as close to the viewer or the truth that is being told with music. I have high hopes for the power of music. Now that we are here, in this hotel where so many rock stars have passed through and although my music is not so linked to rock, I think it has that same truth of relating the drive of what you feel and how those feelings are reflected in the other. Because of all that complex network of emotions, I feel lucky to dedicate myself to this

-With technological advances in sound, is it unfortunate that people don’t go to the movies as much now?

-The cinema is where you really hear everything and the music and sound are felt because your body vibrates when you are exposed to those waves. The sound is purely informative, but, being informative, it is a current of enormous seduction and where it is most appreciated is in a cinema.

-You are a San Sebastian native with four brothers all dedicated to culture. Is it possible to educate children so that they want to dedicate themselves to the world of music and compose? He believes that there is a lack of cultural school

-It depends on whether what you do reaches others. The effort that an artist makes to arrive demonstrates his/her infatuation and that is what should be emulated. I don’t know if I have achieved it, but I pursue art to be a way of life in which I become more and more master of myself. We must ensure that the intentions have an equivalent in the result. I believe that art, philosophy and thought have to be in schools. Absolutely.


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