RUPER ORDORIKA, SONGS from the morning after asier leoz   I  mikel saiz Ruper Ordorika, from the town of Oñati, started out with "Hautsi da anphora" (Elkar, 1980) and has just taken his eighth step in taking singer-songwriting into rock with the release of his latest record. The quality of the finished product certainly helps overcome any possible musical post-natal blues. The following is an update on an artist in search of an instant. Has what was movement on "Dabilen Harria" (Nuevos Medios, 1998) turned to reflection on "Hurrengo Goizean" (Metak, 2001)?
Possibly. I like music to be kind of "from the morning after". There's a tenderness in the air the morning after a concert, when things have calmed down. I've come to realize that the kind of music I love has that kind of feel to it. The morning after is also the moment to get a good look at reality, the moment you ask yourself "and now what?".

On "Dabilen Harria" you used some of the best musicians on the jazz scene to try and capture a sense of improvisation.
The writer Cesare Pavese used to say that in order to avoid coming across as longwinded, one has to approach a creative process untainted. We achieved that. We know each other an awful lot better now, but with musicians who have the kind of ability to express themselves that these have, we can play as if we were just starting off together. The better a musician, the simpler one tends to play. The need to demonstrate technical dexterity loses any major type of importance.

How come you feel so comfortable doing mid-tempo songs?
I don' t really know why but that's about the sum of it all right. Do you know? They' re the hardest songs to play. In the songs where you don' t race along you have to size them up well to make sure you don' t make a mess of it, and that has its difficulty. In music a moment of silence is just as important as a note of sound. And you notice that more in these kind of songs, you have to delve down deep into the song and be technically capable of doing that.

When you released "Dabilen Harria" you used the word "risk". What's the key word to your latest piece of work?
There was a certain amount of risk in this one too. I mean, we started to record on the 15th of August and we finished on the 19th, think about it. I don' t know, even if it' s a bit melancholic I feel there's a brightness to it. I think it's tender. "Mood" might be the word I' m looking for. That's the word they use a lot in blues to describe that instant, that special atmosphere.

Is the instant the thing that is most sought after?
Without a doubt. Catching that intake of breath at the start is both the greatest thing and the hardest. Dylan has the uncanny ability to catch the moment. He' s like a handball player, sometimes he plays the ball out wide , and other times he plays it deep to finish off the point. We all continuously look for the same ourselves in life, work or affection.

There's a dose of The Blues in your music. It' s not up there in your face but it definitely is a part of what you do.
Of course it is. The Blues is what I listened to as I grew up. John Lee Hooker, Rory Gallagher, Creedence... it' s always been there. I' m sure it' s present in my music. It mightn't be visible on the surface, but it' s in there somewhere.

Apart from the connection between the names, is "Hurrengo Goizean" a natural follow on from "Gaur" (Esan Ozenki, 2000)?
I normally know exactly what name I want to give to each new record. Well, this record is different. I had an idea, a word that was connected to a poet I like, but the word was in English and lost strength when translated to Basque. That' s when I came up with the concept of " music from the morning after" and I liked it. But, yes, I suppose it could be considered as a natural follow on.

"Hurrengo Goizean", as far as playing time is concerned, follows the classic pattern: 47 minutes.
Yes. Hollywood established the length of films and vinyl records did the same for albums. Before, each side of a record couldn't last more than 20-25 minutes for technical reasons. That' s why I think it' s the natural length of a record. As well as that, on old records the choice of what would be the first song was really important. It was the easiest song to place the needle on, and that song marked the record. Maybe that' s why the order of the songs on a record is so important to me.

The lyrics are very important on this new record. On "Fatuaren baitan" for example, you talk of origins as an obligation that has to be born.
That' s a song that was written while I was away from here. I consider myself as being very closely connected to where I come from, but, at times, it can bear down on me. That' s what the song is about: the sensation of having to wear your Basque-ness on your lapel wherever you go, you know, always justifying yourself and having to behave in a certain way. It can be a bit of an albatross at times.

The Basques have always been regarded as wanderers. Do you think they need to travel?
They've always been wanderers alright, but that' s because the situation forced them to do so. I see now that there's a growing tendency to travel abroad. People travel less within The Basque Country itself. Few Basques really know The Basque Country. Travel in the metaphorical sense is a different story, however. Everyone needs to see themselves.

It seems now that after what has happened recently, we have reached a kind of "morning after" situation, which we can' t take in. What do the events of this summer mean to you? Hope, resignation, surprise...?
Nothing like that really. I think what happened in New York did nothing but bring a situation that already existed to the surface. The way it happened was really violent, I've lived ten minutes’ walk from there, but there was a change coming before that happened anyway. Globalization and other terms are easily bandied about, but all it has done is show up the huge unbalance that is behind our society' s standard of living.

Do you think we sometimes over-protect music sung in Basque?
I don' t think so. I think that at the moment what' s on offer clearly outstrips demand. Basque-speakers, as consumers, are having trouble keeping up with the music and literature being released and published. What worries me is the lack of communication with non-Basque speakers. Musicians who use Basque don' t exist for a large part of the population.

You can make a record without leaving your h ouse nowadays, and the concept of demo-tapes has completely changed...
That's true alright. Music is losing its ritual value because we're constantly surrounded by it. The role of music changed a long time ago. Anybody can record at home and that fills our surroundings with music. I was talking to a friend of mine in a record shop in Onati the other day and he told me that he easily sells 500 CDRs a month. Just think about what that means. It's clear to see that we need to protect Basque music. I don' t think they're doing any different in England, France or The United States. I’d say they are going even further there.

What' s the first thing that Basque has to overcome today?
We've always had a bit of a complex, there' s no denying that. Every Basque-speaker knows at least one other language, and if that other language is in power, well, work it out for yourself. All the same, I think we should look upon certain things in a positive way. You work in Basque in the media. 20 years ago that wasn't possible. I think the time has come for us to start taking a look at consequences. The consequences might not be what we would have wished for but they have to be looked at.