Interview Uxía Martinez Botana – The musician

The musician

Musicians are quite perfectionistic. Are you as well? Will you ever be satisfied with your own work?

You know, I think that when you love something with all your heart and you have the passion to give yourself fully, it’s  never good enough. It’s not that I’m unsatisfied with what I get sometimes, but in a way it’s never enough. I think it always has to change, it always has to be refreshing or new, and for sure there is always something that I don’t know at all and that I can improve for my own development. That keeps me moving, I love movement. If that means being called a perfectionist, then yes I am, but only in the area of playing, in my “real life” I think I’m far of being perfectionistic… haha.

What is the key for success?

I don´t know if there is a key. If you have talent, ambition, work hard for it and love it , it should work. Especially the last one, because if you play it’s not something that you do just to become successful or rich. Music is something to be done because without it “you can’t be”.

Which audience did you enjoy most?

I like all audiences, but I don’t like it when the audience is too noisy. I mean, when there is a really special Pianissimo ending, or a really special moment, and then they cough just right after, open a candy or a phone sounds… it really breaks the moment… no, I do not like that… haha.

I like silence in a concert. Sometimes I enjoy much more silence than applause, silence is more special. I also don’t like when people leave the hall immediately when musicians are still on the stage and people are still clapping after the concert, I find it quite disrespectful.

How do you deal with playing a masculine instrument as a young woman in such a competitive world?

That’s the million-dollar question. I´ve been asked this many times. Look, I think in music, and regarding instruments, when it comes to playing instruments, there are no sexual differences. I could also think that piano, flute, violin or harp are instruments more adequate for women because they look more feminine and some of them are smaller in dimensions, and in all of them I know excellent male and female players as well. I find it extremely superficial and a non-sense matter to spend time thinking like that, a part of retrograde for society development and old fashioned.

I am not interested if a person is a man or a woman, black, yellow, white from Singapore, Italy or the North Pole. I’m interested in what the musician can give.

Yes but it’s a fact that there are more men then women playing your instrument…

Yes, it is a fact, because in the past years it’s been different. Today I know a lot of female bass players. There is no sense to always keep everything the same way. Then life and the world would always be in the same point, there would be total lack of movement, improvement and innovation, so what is the sense of continuing then?

I must also say, that in my personal experience, I never felt treated different or less by my bass colleagues in the orchestra or my teachers for being a woman. So I haven’t met many people who think like that after I started working with them.

How many days a year are you on tour?

Well, first I was not so much, maybe one month or two. Now it’s between 150 and 195 days a year that I’m away for concerts.

And how is the touring? I can imagine you stay in fancy hotels, you go for dinners in restaurants all the time, you see the concert halls, is it all glamour and party?

No it’s not just like that. When you go on tour, its actually quite hard. Sometimes you hardly sleep because you have to wake up the next morning at 6 to catch the next plane and maybe you finish your concert at 11 the night before, so you really don’t get much time to see the city or to enjoy the hotel, the only thing you want is to rest and then you move to the next city and then again rehearsal and concert. The important thing about the tours is the quality of the concert. It’s not a holiday, and is not a torture either to work like that, don’t get me wrong! Sometimes there is time to enjoy a city for a short time or to refresh a bit, but you shouldn’t forget that you are not on a trip for pleasure.

Uxía Martinez Botana

Uxía Martinez Botana in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam

Recently you played with Kremerata Baltica, how did you end up there?

Yes. Through a project in Frankfurt. It was a wonderful surprise; because when I played in Frankfurt I never expected that something so special was going to come to me, and I’m very grateful already.

Why is it special?  There is a difference compared to other orchestras?

I do enjoy all orchestra’s, of course. As a bass player you play an instrument which is mainly an “orchestra instrument”. Although now it’s changing. Its already taking solo roles or much more roles than just chamber music.

Kremerata is a small group with a big soul; sometimes big groups have small souls…. if you get what I mean… of course, what a group can offer to you, doesn’t depend on how many musicians are inside, but what kind of musicians are in it.  Kremerata Baltica can give something unique and very strong. Let’s say that they have a special blink and that’s why I like to work with them very much.

How is it to work with them? In which language are the rehearsals?

It’s very new for me. The last project with them I found incredibly interesting musically speaking, inspiring and very refreshing. The rehearsals are in English, some parts are in their own language, but honestly, this is not a very relevant matter. Music is an international language; I do not need understand what they say all the time to be able to work with them. If there is something really specific, then yes, but if is not, as a musician, you should be able to feel what they want after playing a few times with them. Let’s say it’s another type of communication… the one that is not with words but with feelings.

And anyway I like to learn new languages so it’s also even interesting for me to try to understand something about what they say in their own language!

You were the only Spanish in the group? Were there people from other countries as well?

Yes, I was the only Spanish. There were of course people from other countries, mainly Baltic.

How does it feel to be the only Spanish in the group?  

I’m not there to compare passports, or to feel special for having a different one. I’m there to give the best of me as a player for the group. Quality is important, not passport.

What is your goal from here?

I have many goals. What I really enjoy to see now is how the development of my instrument is changing. There is a new generation of bass players who are really into taking risks and not limit the instrument only to be sitting in a chair in an orchestra forever.  It’s something new, avanguardistic and refreshing as well for the public, and so far it’s working very well how the public is receiving this, it’s having a nice welcome by the audience.

You’re practising all the time…  How many hours? What’s next?

Well, you should visit your beloved one every day. The routine of hours of practising depends on the type of concert I have.

The month of July I will be touring with the Kremerata Baltica. Next year I will have a few projects with a bass duo with  bass player Risto Vuolanne, in the Mozart festival in A Coruña, Spain. This will be mainly contemporary music. I’ve also got arecitals in Holland and Spain coming up, a part of the orchestra repertoire.

 

Uxía Martinez Botana

Uxía Martinez Botana on stage in Odessa

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