Gustavo Santaolalla

Having first helped pioneer a generation of Rock en Espanol bands in Argentina in the late 1960s, Gustavo Santaolalla enjoyed an eclectic, unique career spanning punk and alternative scenes, Latin folk music and even electro-tango raves, before becoming a world-renowned, award-winning film score composer. Born in El Palomar on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Santaolalla grew up at a time when Argentina was under a military dictatorship, but started playing guitar at the age of five and always had a love of tango, rock and roll, jazz and musical soundtracks. He was still only 16 when he signed his first record deal, but his band Arco Iris were seminal in fusing traditional Latin folk music with the experimental 1960s rock and roll jams and he helped craft influential albums 'Sudamerica - O El Regresso a la Aurora' and 'Agitor Lucens V'. Part of a counter-culture, beatnik, bohemian scene despised by the establishment, he was regarded as a dissident and jailed on numerous occasions between the ages of 15 and 24, eventually fleeing to Los Angeles in 1978 where he joined the burgeoning punk movement with band Wet Picnic and produced records for protest singer Leon Gieco. His debut solo album 'Santaolalla' in 1981 dabbled with new wave synths and glossy, left field pop hooks, but he continued to put the Latino culture at the heart of his work as he went on to produce for a new generation of alternative South American bands such as Molotov, Los Prisoneros and Maldita. He returned to Argentina in 1983 to document the travels of Gieco and to make field recordings of street markets, amateur folk songwriters and traditional musicians in the rural parts of the country on the album 'De Ushuaia a la Quiaca', and in the 1990s he produced albums by up-and coming Mexican bands alongside established pop favourites like Gypsy Kings, Juanes and Bersuit Vergarabet. His solo album 'Roroco' attracted the attention of movie director Michael Mann who used its track 'Iquaza' in his film 'The Insider' in 1999, which led to Santaolalla composing full film scores for the Mexican thriller 'Amores Perros', the drama '21 Grams' and the Che Guevara biopic 'The Motorcycle Diaries'. His biggest success came in 2005 when his sparse, elegant, acoustic melodies became the backdrop to hit romantic drama 'Brokeback Mountain' and won the Academy Award for Best Original Score. The following year his work for Alexandro Gonzalez Inarritu's 'Babel' won the same honour, and Santaolalla worked on a string of major soundtrack projects including the Kerouac adaptation 'On the Road', the animated musical 'The Book of Life' and the popular documentary series 'Making a Murderer'. He also won Grammy Awards for his work on albums by Juanes and Cuatro Caminos and became part of the eight-piece jazz group Bajofondo who, from 2002, began injecting classic tango, murga, milonga and candombe music with clubby, techno beats. In 2014 he created a theatre show called 'Arrabel' which told a coming-of-age story set amidst Argentina's troubles in the 1970s.

Related Artists

Stations Featuring Gustavo Santaolalla

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