Changing The World Through Music

One Of The Legendary Guitarists Of The Music World, Carlos Santana Has Come Back With A Brand New Fan-Pleasing Album Called Shape Shifter That Has 13 Songs And Is Heavy On Instrumentals.

You make reference to native Americans and Aborigines in your recent studio album, Shape Shifter. What sort of message are you giving exactly?
Thank you for asking that. I came up with this concept because I believe that every person on this planet knows that change is inevitable and growth is optional, and you have to become crystal clear in your awareness. Unless you have willingness to allow, or you allow willingness, you’re going to be stuck in the mud and not be happy. You’re going to be miserable. But if you have willingness to allow and allow willingness, then you can have creativity and vitality.

In your recording process over the years, how did you decide what songs would make certain albums and what songs would be held back for Shape Shifter?
It’s just like being a cook or a tailor. You know what goes with your tongue and flavor if you’re a cook, or what goes with symmetry if you’re a tailor. And if you’re a musician, you know what goes with what music. For example, I took the CD for a drive and played the songs in a certain sequence, and I noted if something was harmoniously welcome or distracting.

This album is a departure from the last four you’ve released. How did you find the formula for it? And how is it different from the others?
First of all, I really don’t like the word ‘formula’. The word ‘formula’ is positive for creating something in a laboratory, a cure for cancer or something like that. Or if you’re creating the perfect melody, theme and chorus for a radio hit, I could understand that being called a ‘formula’. But for me, and with this album, it’s just the opposite. Having no formula other than trust. That’s it. We replace formula with trust.

How do themes and melodies come to you when you’re writing new music?
It comes from above. Whether it’s mental gibberish, or being cute and clever. It comes like a voice from the center of your heart, or from high above where it’s quiet, beyond the chatter in your head.

The album features Benny Rietveld, Chester Thompson and Dennis Chambers as well as Raul Rekow, Karl Perazzo and the two vocalists, Andy Vargas and Tony Lindsay. Tell us what the band members brought to the entire album individually and collectively.

Thank you for asking that. Each one is more than just a colleague. Each person brings their own spirit, their own imprint. CT (Chester Thompson) and I collaborated from ’83 until about two or three years ago, and I look forward to doing something with him in the near future. The rest of the musicians all bring their own colors and creativity.

Aside from being instrumental, there are songs on the new album like Shape Shifter and Nomad that include a multitude of genres within one song. What kind of liberating experience was that for you as an artist?
I’ve always had that since I started playing the guitar, because I wasn’t told by anyone what I should do. I’ve never had anyone put a negative thought in my head about what I could do or shouldn’t be doing.

You’ve collaborated with some of the best musicians over the decades. Is there anyone today - an up-and-coming performer maybe - that you would like to work with on a future project?
Lady Gaga and, let’s see, who else? Some African musicians. And some bands from India and the Middle East. I found out not too long ago that there are people in Persia, Istanbul, Jerusalem, all the way to India, who are playing Metallica and Santana, so I’d like to play with some of those bands because I want to learn that kind of singing and phrasing. It’s very rare, and very attractive to me.

What do you do to inspire yourself and keep your songs fresh and new?
I read a lot of books. I’m always looking for books that remind me that I have an incredible power to choose. My brain and my molecules obey me, as opposed to me obeying them.

Who are the people you see right now, like yourself, who are making a concerted effort to change the world through music?
Sting, Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga. There are a lot of young people today who realize that ice cream tastes better when you share it.

What’s next for StarFaith records?
There are three of four records to do. One is a new Santana CD. And I’d like to do one with Cindy. I’d also like to do another instrumental, because I have a lot of ideas. I think it’s mostly about being grateful and staying happy.

Carlos Santana is a musician known not only for his art but also for The Milagro Foundation, which he set up. The foundation, which supports education, art and health for disadvantaged children in different parts of the world, has been active since 1998. For more information: