Gig Seeker Pro


Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Band World Latin


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




July 28, 2003

Colombia and Coquitlam seem worlds apart and, in many respects, they are. But it has often been said that music is like a bridge and this is well illustrated in the case of the Canadian/Colombian music group Candelaria. At the present time, this group is comprised of four members, but the band has plans to grow and evolve and continue a journey that started some years ago in the capital city of Columbia, home to ten million people.
William Benavides was born there and early on in his life felt the music in his blood. “It’s more of a family culture in Colombia,” he explains. “Family is very important and you get together with them every week and sing and dance.” William began to study music in Colombia but found the music scene kind of stagnant. “For musicians, there are not a lot of opportunities in Colombia.” So he looked north to the country his parents had visited and had come to love – Canada. “They applied to live in Canada and got accepted, so that made the decision to move from Colombia a little easier.”
Colombia is a country with a questionable reputation. The media is unkind to it, oft reporting problems with drugs, crime and guerrilla warfare. Still, William talks proudly of his country and says he did not come to Canada to escape problems at home. “We moved for our careers.” William moved here with his brother, Miguel and mother, but it was with Miguel he would build a musical career with.
“We always had the idea of starting a band that wouldn’t be commercial or too artistic,” William says. “We wanted to do something in between – both interesting for musicians and also acceptable to the jazz audience. We wanted to bring some of the traditional rhythms from South America and mix them with more modern instrumentations.” They found a bass player, Russel Sholberg, that would join them and later, an accordion player named Alison Jenkins as well. They had all the pieces in place to create a band true to their roots – all they were missing was a name.
They chose Candelaria, a district in Colombia much like Vancouver’s Gastown. The band name also contains the Spanish word for “fire” in it, a little touch the Benavides like very much. “We feel the name represents the warmth we are trying to create.”
With a name, a CD soon followed, released in 2003. They called the CD “Emotional Equilibrium” – a title that embodies what the band stands for. “We wanted to take a different approach and get away from the typical themes of music,” William explains. “The title of the CD applies to emotional and social equilibrium. We feel there should be a more balanced society in that sense.” Candelaria’s songs mostly concern important social issues and the broad spectrum of human emotion – all done in the type of music people can dance and sing to.
People seem to like it. Enough so that some of their songs have actually received local radio airplay. 96.1 FM, 102.9 FM and 101.9 have all at one point played a song or two from Candelaria’s CD. “It took awhile for people to become familiar with us,” William says, noting the music is perhaps not what people are accustomed to hearing. “We didn’t plan on playing for a specific audience but now we realise it’s better to research your audience and see where they want to be.”
The audience is not huge – yet. The CD sold over 2000 copies from both show sales and the Internet. Candelaria’s website has become as important an element for the band as the instruments themselves. “We, like many other independent bands, are part of a whole new trend in the music industry,” it says in their homepage. “There’s no need for big labels anymore, no need for big-star status. We, through the power of the Internet and on-line distribution, have the freedom to create what we want and share it around the globe with the people we want.”
According to William, fans from Italy, Spain and other parts of Europe have bought the CDs from the band’s website. “Places that we have never had access to before were able to hear our music. That creates competition and it’s good for independent artists because people have way more choices than they did before.”
The demand and interest in Candelaria continues to grow. Recently, they played at the FACES festival in Coquitlam – a gig they got through CBC. “They might play our stuff on CBC radio in August, which would be cool.” The band also has a regular gig on weekends and is plans to enter into future jazz festivals in both Vancouver and Montreal. “It’s a good way to get exposure. When you are starting a band, the only way people can get to know you is to play everywhere you can.”
Recently, some of the more mainstream music groups have come under fire for “selling out” and creating more commercialized music. As a band devoted to its roots, the question is asked whether or not to achieve success, Candelaria would consider doing a similar thing. “I disagree with people who see music solely as a way to make money,” William says thoughtfully. “When they forget completely about the art of it and start doing everything the record labels say then it becomes a bit like fashion and not true to the music itself. I think a lot of bands create their music as if it were a recipe – people like this, so we’ll add this and take away that. Don’t ever compromise the music, because record labels want to play music that is like McDonald’s – very formulaic.” William stops and considers. “We are not very interested in finding a huge audience that likes our music, but we are interested in finding a select few that love it.”
The future of Candelaria could bring about anything. They plan to continue working and developing the music and plan to record a second CD early next year with recordings more suited for a Canadian audience. They would like to travel and are considering a stop in Colombia. But they announce Vancouver as their current home base.
“We’d like to create a fan base with some of the great Canadian music fans and support the music scene in Vancouver,” William says. “A lot of people say Toronto is better, but it seems like places here are trying harder to support local bands and we just want to be part of it.”
- Something cool news

"Balance Between Diverse Sounds"

The word fusion remains our favored in North America music circles, having acquired connotations of blandness in the '70. But the work of young Colombian guitarist and songwriter William Benavides can only be described as an original form of Latin fusion: a prismatic blend of pop, rock, funk, jazz, and a variety of folk traditions from his homeland. The diversity of styles he incorporates is simply and honest reflection of his formative influences as an artist.

Growing up in Bogotá Colombia's capital, Benavides was exposed to a wide range of music on radio and TV and on the street. He also studied classical music and guitar at university, and played in rock and jazz bands. “I started to write my own songs from the time I was a teenager,” says the 25-years old Benavides, interviewed in East Vancouver. “It seemed natural to me then, and it does now, that all of these influences must emerge and combine at some time.”

Ironically, Colombian folk elements only started appearing in Benavides's compositions after him and his younger brother Miguel moved to Canada in 1998 to continue their music studies. “We tended to associate these rhythms with old people, and as young musicians in Bogotá it just was not cool to play that kind of thing,” Benavides explains. “But here I could better appreciate their value. Now I include in what I do some cumbia, porro, and vallenato from the Atlantic coast, and bambuco, which is in 6/8 and comes from the middle of the country. There's also a bit of Caribbean soca.”

In Vancouver both William and Miguel, who plays drums and percussion, took classes in jazz theory and sound production. At the same time they started jamming around town, in search of other musicians interested in developing new Latin based sounds. They soon met bassist Russell Sholberg, who had formerly played with Biff Naked. “He knew a lot of the jazz and Latin standards that we were familiar with,” says Benavides. “The chemistry was right between us, so we got together regularly. About one year later Alison Jenkins , who plays clarinet and accordion, joined us. We wanted in particular to have her play with us in the vallenato style, and she mastered it really fast.”

Together the four musicians created Candelaria- named after a district of Bogotá- and began performing at private parties and small clubs. At first the band felt obliged to do covers of well known artists such as Colombian pop star Carlos Vives. Increasingly, however, Benavides introduced his own compositions, with lyrics in both Spanish and English, and they proved popular.

Within a year Benavides had completed enough songs for Candelaria to make its debut CD. The brothers created a small studio in their basement, and over the next several months the 10-track album slowly took shape. Recording at home meant the Benavides could work on details of arrangements until he was completely satisfied. “It was a great learning experience,” he recalls. “I was careful not to give in to the temptation to overproduce. So there are few studio effects, and we decided that the instrumentation we used should be limited to what we can play on stage.”

The songs of Equilibrio Emocional (Emotional Balance) have received frequent airplay on Hispanic radio shows around town. But Benavides wants to reach out to a wider community. He's delighted that Candelaria is one of the of the bands appearing at Listen Up! New Sounds from the City- a mini festival running Thursday through Saturday (January 16 to 18) at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. The focus is on emerging local talent, and Candelaria appears as part of Friday night's bill

Encouraged by his success in producing the CD, Benavides has launched Somos Music Inc. a company dedicated to recording and promoting local Latin music. ”There's an increasing number of Hispanic people in B.C. and we see a lot of potential for young bands,” he says. “But the company is multipurpose: we also want to have our independent label and a live- sound production branch. Having Equilibrio Emocional to show is helping us get the message out.”

Benavides is already contemplating a follow-up album that would take Candelaria into more experimental territory. “Latin fusion that blends electronic instruments with traditional styles is quite rare,” he notes. “I think it would be an interesting musical direction for us to follow. We would add more layers of electronics and computer-generated sounds. At the same time we are also thinking of targeting a wider audience by having our lyrics in English. I want Candelaria to bridge cultures, languages, and musical styles-to be a fusion that is always new, but stays accessible.”
- The Georgia Straight


Equilibrio Emocional 2003
Mucura Records


Feeling a bit camera shy



The work of Benavides points to the future of Latin roots music in Canada. The young guitarist and singer, who moved to Vancouver from Colombia eight years ago, is forging a vibrant new sound, an artful blend of traditional rhythms from several South American and Caribbean countries with elegant, jazz-inflected pop and funk from his new homeland.

Leading a five-piece band that comprises some of Vancouver’s finest Latin musicians, Benavides mixes and matches styles and varies instrumental textures with deceptive ease. For instance in the opening bars of the song “Day by day”, on his demo disc, listen to the way the ostinato on the guitar carries into the cumbia beat, from which the instrument re-emerges with a rock edginess. And throughout “Here with me”, note how the music shifts naturally back and forth between Latin and pop-rock, contrasting such elements as a fat electric bass and the dry acoustic sound of a Cuban tres.

Benavides’s talent as musician, vocalist, arranger, and sound engineer emerged during his student days at Bogotá’s Javeriana University, where the music program is one of the most prestigious in Latin America. Among his teachers was Julio Reyes, a master at crafting intelligent pop who now arranges for Ricky Martin. Once in Canada, Benavides continued his education, enrolling in Capilano College’s jazz program and learning his jazz chops from ace-guitarist Bill Coon.

In the past several years Benavides has earned a reputation around Vancouver as a versatile singer and musician, with a command of both electric and acoustic guitars,. He performs regularly with acclaimed Chilean folk band Sumalao, and with the quartet Candelaria. Its 2003 debut album Equilibrio Emocional (Emotional Balance) was recorded in the home-studio he built with his brother Miguel. The disc highlights Benavides’s fresh approach to Latin song, incorporating influences from the Beatles and Sting to Colombian rockstar Juanes.

Currently Benavides is working on material for his forthcoming solo album. Inside Us, due to be released on his own Mucura Records label in September 2006. Interwoven with jazz, pop, and funk, the roots elements in the new songs extend from Cuban cha cha cha and guajira (country-folk) to Brazilian bossa nova and Colombian bambuco, While remaining accessible to North American ears, the music is sophisticated melodically and harmonically. And the lyrics, in Spanish and English, are simple and direct, speaking of everyday experience and the many shades of love.

Drawing on a broad range of influences and styles, Benavides is creating bright new music that freely and fearlessly crosses the boundaries between North and South America.