Dairon Reyes – stage name Kairon – having spent two years out front in the Havana Kings, is stretching out with a new project called Son Mayimbe, focusing on the music of his homeland, Cuba. Ahead of their show on Sunday night at Sharky Bar he sat down with Leng Pleng to talk about music and passion.
“We play all the styles of the Caribbean,” Dairon explains. “Cha-cha-cha, salsa, bachata, rhythm and blues – like the Buena Vista Social Club. It’s the traditional music of Cuba.”
The band has come together as a collaboration with his friend, guitarist and Cuban music lover Stan Paleco. “Stan is my friend for a long time, an excellent musician. One day he called me and said why don’t you and me work together? We can do traditional music. For me it’s okay, I love the music.”
Dairon is delighted is to introduce his music to Cambodia. “For me it’s a pleasure to share my roots, my culture, through the music. I think people can take the time to understand all the cultures in the world, and for me to work with Gunter [Hofmans, percussionist] or Stan or Andrey [Meshcheryakov, bassist], it’s learning. It’s important for me to be learning. He is different to me, you are different to me, but we can always learn from a good musician – I give to you, you give to me. Together we learn. We can all do great things if we study and we work together.”
Both he and Stan are insistent that connection with the audience is paramount. “One day my music teacher said to me you practice, but it’s all about passion and the energy inside. You need to give everything. Some people play only for themselves – but really you need to do it for the people, you need to touch the hearts.” Stan adds: “It doesn’t matter if you play pentatonic or 12 bar blues all night, you play one million chords – you still have to touch them.”
“Every musician should one day go to Cuba and see what music is,” says Stan. “They play for two hours for $10, no break, no food, no drink, nothing. And no complaining. The music is like drugs. “In my country, the food is music,” says Dairon. It’s universal language, we agree: lingua musica.
As a young man, Dairon studied singing and trombone. “I studied for a long time in Cuba, I played with many people. I liked to play classical music, in duos, trios, big bands, salsa. I sang hip-hop. I studied painting, art school, then went to study finance and economics for six years. My mum said you need to go to school! When I finished I went to music school.” And music has been his career ever since, writing and performing, on stage and television.
It was music that brought him to this part of the world – initially working contracts in clubs in cities across China. “Then I came to Cambodia for one month, two months – that was two years ago. It’s like Cuba – it’s hot, the people are similar, dancing, happy, I like to give my music for the people.” Why Cambodia? “My people don’t need a visa! I don’t need visa for China or Cambodia. I came to Siem Reap. One guy says don’t go, you can sing here, stay longer. After two months, I came to Phnom Penh.”
Before long he was drafted into the newly formed Havana Kings and took to the stages of the city. Now he hopes to push on, introducing his own compositions to audiences. “If you don’t put time and love and passion, you lose the secrets of the music, you lose the connection to the people. If you do it with love, the money will come – today, tomorrow, after.”
Son Mayimbe play Sharky Bar on Sunday night from 9.30 pm.