‘Havana Meets Kingston’ is the creation of Australian globetrotter producer Jake Savona aka Mista Savona, it is the first ever album collaboration between Jamaican and Cuban musicians and also the first album sung simultaneously in Spanish, English and Jamaican Patois.
Recorded at Havana’s famed Egrem studios in Cuba over the course of eight days, the album is a melting pot of traditional and contemporary Cuban and Jamaican music and brings together the best artists from both islands including Sly & Robbie, Bongo Herman, ‘Bopee’ Anderson, Ernest Ranglin, Rolando Luna and Barbarito Torres from Buena Vista Social Club and Los Van Van.
Ahead of the release we thought we’d send him our twenty questions:
Where are you and what’s the weather like?
In Byron Bay on the east coast of Australia. Beautiful, warm sunny days,
What’s your favourite record in the charts?
I generally don’t listen to the charts. There’s just too much really average music making it onto commercial radio. That’s an understatement by the way. However I’m happy to report our single ‘Carnival’ is currently in the German pop charts, and the two singers featured on that track (Randy Valentine from Jamaica and Solis from Cuba) are both touring with me in Australia at the moment. And people really love this song! We’re currently in the studio working on new music.
What are your favourite films?
The list is endless. Probably the most life changing film I’ve seen is ‘Baraka’. But in no particular order here are some music films I love – Rockers, Latchto Drum, Buena Vista Social Club, Searching for Sugar Man…
What is your favourite book?
I absolutely loved Tolkien’s ‘Lord Of The RIngs’ when I was young, what a masterpiece. However I’m not a big fan of the films. More recently I’ve been reading Eckhart Tolle’s ‘ A New Earth’ (brilliant) and Sadhguru’s ‘Inner Engineering’
What are your favourite TV programmes?
Sorry I haven’t watched TV in twenty + years. Too much brainwashing & negative media hype. I stick to film (mostly independent) and music.
What was the first record you bought and where did you buy it from?
I think the very first vinyl I bought was Mozart from a second hand shop, think I was fifteen. Soon after I began collecting any Jimi Hendrix LP’s I could find. That opened the way to jazz and African Music, and soon after reggae and then hip-hop.
What is your least favourite record that you have made, and why?
Probably my first album ‘Bass &* Roots’, as I was learning on the fly – but there’s still some great tunes on it !
Do you believe in God?
Do fish believe in water?
Which football team do you support?
Australian rules? Richmond. But I haven’t paid attention to that world for a long time.
Do you have any pets?
The neighbour’s cat ‘CousCous’ has basically moved into our house. Very cute part Burmese I believe. We don’t feed it, so apart from meal times it basically lives at our house. I say neighbour but their house is actually two streets away, so it comes on missions across the neighbourhood to hang out.
Who would you want to play you in the film of your life?
This is a funny question. I’m in the studio with Randy Valentine at the moment, and he suggests I say Mr Bean.
Vinyl, CD, Download or stream?
Vinyl and WAV files. Mp3’s sound terrible, it’s criminal that iTunes & co. make trillions of dollars from selling artists’ music in an inferior sounding format.
When was the last time you cried?
Watching ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ a month ago.
What’s the best cover version you have ever heard?
The Tamlins’ cover of Nina Simone’s ‘Baltimore’, arranged by Sly & Robbie. And speaking of Nina Simone, pretty much anything she covered she did brilliantly.
What’s the strangest thing that has ever happened at one of your own gigs?
Having pyschic moments with the musicians I play on stage with – for instance, second guessing each other in moments of improvisation, or both landing on the same notes or rhythm without any prior discussion or planning.
Have you ever been starstruck?
Cecile and Manu Chao.
What is your culinary speciality?
Italian. Pasta. Soups. And good cooked breakfasts.
The Royal Family: should they stay or should they go?
Which one? I’m Australian, and I definitely believe we should be a republic and give our Indigenous people more leadership roles, and possibly even their own country.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you like to be?
I miss planting trees and working in nature.
What were you like at school?
If you could change one law, what would it be?
Pretty much all of them. But I’d start with making fossil fuels illegal and then end lock-out laws and time restrictions on music venues and bars.
Which decade would you have most liked to have lived in?
The present moment.
Havana meets Kingston is out now