Cirque de Soleil is creating the show together with leading Argentine music promoter PopArt, and Triple, Soda's production company. PopArt's Diego Saenz, Triple’s Daniel Kon, the band’s longtime manager, and producer Roberto Costa proposed the idea of the show to the theatrical entertainment giant.
“I had not heard of them a year ago,” confessed Gabriel Pinkstone, Cirque’s Senior Director of Special Projects, who has clearly become an instant fan of the band that broke through barriers in Latin America in the 1980s to gain a following throughout the region, and whose popularity has since grown to include several generations. “It’s very exciting. People love them because they are a soundtrack to their lives, but there’s also an inspirational quality about their success that people find very touching.”
In an exclusive interview, Pinkstone talked about Soda’s enduring legacy, and the creative process behind the upcoming show and its soundtrack. “You’ll hear some things that have never been heard before,” she promised.
Soda Stereo will be the first Latin artist to inspire a Cirque du Soleil show. This is great news for fans and it could be a brilliant idea, but it was still a surprising choice. What was your familiarity with the band?
It´s only when we organized a focus group with some of our Latino employees that we started to understand really how huge they were. We got together a group of our employees who come from South American countries and Mexico, and [Cirque Director of Creation] Jean Francois Bouchard said to them, ‘I’m not going to tell you anything else, I’m just going to tell you two words, and I want to hear your reaction.’ And when he said ‘Soda Stereo’ they screamed, somebody cried, they were like, ‘oh my god we’re going to do a show with Soda Stereo.’ It was the first hint we had of how huge they were.
They are so beloved. It’s a very visceral thing. They are very, very loved as a band. And we’re all about wanting to touch people, so it’s a very special and exciting project for us, and at the same time a very big responsibility because something that is so beloved we of course need to treat with the respect that it deserves.
Why Soda and not one of today’s Latin superstars, someone like Shakira?
When we look for a creative partnership we’re not, despite what people could think, scanning around for the most likely commercial success. The creative challenge, the creative world that we’re going to working with, and the partnership with the people is very important.
The fact that they approached us means they understand what Cirque has to offer. They came to us understanding what a Cirque du Soleil show about a musical work can be, and believing that their work could be applicable in that contest.
And when we looked into it we agreed with them.
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What have been the first steps in creating the show?
We started delving into the band’s universe. We were very honored to have Charly and Zeta and Laura, [the late Soda frontman Gustavo Cerati's sister], here with us, and Daniel Kon, the band’s manager, explaining the band’s history and how they met, and each of the albums and the symbolism behind the graphics they chose, the words of Gustavo Cerati’s songs. They explained all of that, and we started to really get excited about the project, and the potential for a Cirque du Soleil show that could really do justice to that heritage.
Can you give me an idea of what the show will look and sound like?
Cirque du Soleil shows are about imagination, about touching people, about human endeavor. In the case of The Beatles and Michael Jackson, both of those artists have very strong imaginary worlds, for example, the Beatles, with “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” “Yellow Submarine…” there are a lot of interesting visual starting points in their songs. Both The Beatles and Michael Jackson shows use the music remixed in new ways, with the Cirque du Soleil creative artistic acrobatic approach. In the case of Michael Jackson, the dance aspect was of course very important.
It’s hard to say right now, because we are in the very early stages of the creative process, exactly how that will be translated to the stage for Soda Stereo.
It’s not a tribute show at all. We’re not following their story like a documentary, that’s not the Cirque approach. So I can say for sure it’s not a tribute show and band is not on stage.
Because the band is not physically onstage, it’s the Cirque du Soleil content, if you like, that replaces that visually, with the music of the band in the forefront. We’re working with sound designers and mixers who worked with the band in order to come up with those remixes.
It’s all that recorded music, but remixed especially for the show. You’ll hear some things that have never been heard before.
Will there be a soundtrack album?
What are some of the next steps in preparing the show for a 2017 debut?
The creative team will be visiting Buenos Aires to go and understand where it all came from – where Zeta grew up where Charly grew up, where Gustavo grew up, what was Buenos Aires was like in the ’80s.
You’re working with PopArt, a leading concert promoter in Buenos Aires whose CEO has previous ties to Soda Stereo. Tell me something about your partnership with them.
We’re providing the creation and production expertise to create the show, and then PopArt will be producing it. They are way more experienced in South America than we are, particularly in a rock n' roll context.
PopArt is extremely experienced and very well connected in South America, so we’ll be taking advantage of that and finding the right combination of Montreal, Buenos Aires, the right people and the right places [for the production.]
The show is set to debut in Buenos Aires. Where will it go next?
It will be Buenos Aires, Latin America, including of course Mexico. In the States right now we are thinking Los Angeles and Miami and we’ll investigate [the possibility of runs in] other cities, too.