We all have our own way of perceiving and discovering the world. Some people put out to sea and conquer anxious waves, others take bus tours along Europe or test their persistence towards hot deserts while riding camels. There are also people that wander along our planet and research nicely traditions of indigenous people creating fascinating combination of ethnic sounds. Our guest, Ikaro Valderrama, some years ago went to severe spaces of Siberia from hot Latin America. What did he find there? And, more important issue, how does he perceive this world and life? At an early autumn morning we decided to talk to Ikaro about all these issues.

GAYANAT: Ikaro, tell us, please, when did you happen to be in Russia at first time?

IKARO: 4 years ago I went to Bashkiria, where I studied Russian in a university. Later I started travelling along Russia, especially – Siberia. I was interested in communicating with local old residents that had saved traditions and knowledge. 

GN: Why Russia? It’s quite far from Columbia.

IK:  I really wanted to see the world – that was my old dream. I even was enlisted in several universities in different countries. But I got ill and underwent 2 operations, then Amazonian Indians were curing me during a long time period. After operation I was offered to study Russian language in Bashkiria. I didn’t accept it at once, but through different practices that I did in Columbia I realized that  I needed to come to Russia. 

GN:  So, was it kind of intuitive feeling?

IK: At first - yes. But now I have more clear vision of why I am here. You know, normally we quite often do something without knowing the reason behind it and only after a long time we start seeing more clearly the prospective.

GN:  How did you happen to come to this clear vision of what is necessary to do? Any person has to go through specific inner evolution: he is born, he receives knowledge from his family and surrounding, then universities, life lessons, and sometimes some milestone events happen that turn upside down the whole life. What was a triggering mechanism in your life after that you completely focused on spiritual and art area?

IK: It happened a long time ago, much earlier than we can imagine. Human is, according to scientists, a young specie. We have been being here recently, that is why we don’t understand immediately what we should do. For me it has become clearer for the last four years.

GN:  Oh, did Russia (introduction with Russia) affect this process?

IK: All started in Columbia. Regarding Russia, I wrote the book «Siberia in my eyes». There is a book collection named “Immigrants”.  Each book tells about one city where the author-immigrant is living. There is book about New-York, Paris, Frankfurt; I was offered to write about Siberia. At first, I was thinking of one city, for example, Ufa, but then I saw that it was impossible to describe Siberia through this way. I always move a lot, I moved along Columbia, Ecuador, Cuba and other countries. And even when I describe Siberia, other cities still remind me via my memories – all is inter-related, all these cities live in me, each city with its story.

GN:  Do you know why we are asking about your life Path? In our society there is a famous story: a person lives with usual standards and limits “work-home-work-home” and quite often he or she is dissatisfied with the life without knowing the meaning of his/her life here. So, sometimes this person needs an advice, an example of successful person that could trigger him/her to strong life changes. We think that you are one of these successful people.

IK: My realization…well, I think of myself as of the most unspiritual person. How do we see the word “spiritual”? We have some image: how to get dressed, what place and which mountain to get to, what to eat and etc. We think that after doing all these things we will become really spiritual. We don’t see the real meaning of this word. Old people in Amazonia lead an ordinary life, drink chicha (low-alcohol drink in South America, like beer), play music, chat with each other. For these people this ordinary life is a spiritual ritual. Once one foreigner that came to this Indians started doing exercises “Surya Namaskar” (“Sun salute”) – all Indians were laughing at him. They made sun by themselves for these tribes. This is completely different image, different vision towards spirituality.

GN:  Oh, tell a bit more about Indians? It is very interesting!

IK: Word “Indian” is just a category, is an empty word. I don’t like categories, but if they help us to understand each other somehow, to have an interview, then ok. There are over 100 tribes in Columbia. It’s very important for them to be connected with the nature. Now many people think that tobacco is something bad and other plant with similar qualities are also bad. But everything has 2 sides. For instance, tobacco or coca leaf are often used with medical purposes by this tribes. But, at the same time, they can be harmful because of wrong usage – and everyone knows about it. I am not keen on tobacco and other things like that but many people know power of some plants and they cannot dispose correctly all that the nature gives.

GN:  You have been in many countries…which place was close to your soul?

IK: I like different places, that is why I move a lot. Maybe, when I find this soul-close place, I will stay there. I love Latin America, especially Ecuador, I have many friends there. And, of course, Russia, which is like a continent for me, with different-spirited cities. For example, Tuva and Moscow are very different but in both of these places I have different things to like. The most wonderful place is Baikal, I respect and love it. Recently I have recorded a disk “Transbaikal 2.1” – I want to return my debt to Baikal through this music, as Baikal gave me a lot during these years.  On 17th of July (my birthday) I made a concert. There was a moment when all people were singing together: “Baikal! Baikal! Baikal!“. At this moment I thought that I am too small for this big Baikal. These moments are unique. 

GN:  Do you arrange concerts with groups or you prefer performing alone?

IK: As I move a lot, I decided that I don’t need only 1 group. I am Ikaro and I am open-minded, I can play with different musicians. For instance, yesterday there was a concert with the percussionist that I met in Siberia; he lives in Peter and wanted to play with me. And there are many other people, not only musicians. We wrote a book with one photographer. We chose 40 photos, I wrote hokku: there is text on one page and a photo on the other page; it is beautiful. It is named “The Windows of Silence”. I also work with film-makers. We want to make a documentary about trip by minibus along Siberia, Kazakstan and other places. We want to show the process of collecting music traditions and make a big concert afterwards. It will be named “Ikaro and The Siberian Machine”.

GN:  You see, in India for a long period of time music traditions used to be within family. Fathers used to pass the secrets to sons and so on. But it was not public. Only recently it became available for everyone to learn traditional music or dances. So, is there anything similar in Latin America, in terms of close family traditions?

IK: Yes, of course, there are. It is said that people used to live together long ago. Then they separated, different languages appeared, wars happened. Now there is a trend to get together, from all 4 directions: “yellow” people, “red” people, “black” and “white”. That is why I can talk to you in Russian. If we want to be together again, then this process won’t be easy. How can we take and understand each other while being so different? In this process of connecting it is very important not to lose the clue of the origin of knowledge, we should respect traditions. And we should learn to live in the world that contains everything like a soup.

GN:  In fact, you managed to do in via music.

IK: I don’t know. I have only started to understand it. I try to live freely. I am in a process of it. What is freedom for me? It is the Sky. The Sky is not only cloud or blue color. It is Universe. That is why nomads look at the sky and move forward. For those people, who can get on in different situations under the sky, everything is possible. Of course, you can live in the category “I do what is needed”. But the world is a game and it’s unnecessary to complain. I don’t like when people say: “I don’t have money, work is hard and rent is high”. It was your own choice: you chose this work, you bought this flat! We can change the perspective, find some other ways. Every day. Nomad is not the one who goes along different countries. Nomad is the one, who is open to his Inner Heaven. These are spiritual nomads. Everything opens gradually for us. I want to open this Inner Heaven that already exists through voice and music, while someone else can do it via other ways. We have all inside ourselves – it was there long ago. And all practices that exist in the modern life just assist in it. The Sky is big and you can move towards any side. The Heaven is endless.



P.S.  We thank Tea Studio Open World for their beautiful ethnic space!  

© GAYANAT project, 2014