Shaking a Stick
at musical convention


Progression: What do you mean when you say, “the truth is the power?”
Cides: "What I mean is that the truth is unstoppable, invincible, untouchable and incurable. In Spain, there is a singer that vocalizes, “Truth is never sad, it’s just that you cannot repair it.” Truth is what it is and it is the best it has."
"When you are an independent artist, all you have to keep moving forward is your own truth. If you stick with it, I believe that one day it is possible that such a truth will exist peacefully and consistently within you. In general, it seems that in music, truth is always marked or touched by someone else. But the history of music goes on and keeps demonstrating that there are other possible truths ."

Progression: What are some of the things that give meaning to your life?
Cides: "Nice questions………I hope the readers don’t get bored and think I am some kind of “Dalai Stick” that walks on water….haha! I will just try to tell you about some things in my life – and my life still needs some “meanings” that I haven’t yet found. This doesn’t imply that it has no meaning at all…of course, it does have meaning and among all of life’s questions that remain, there are people that you share your time with on this planet during this ephemeral existence."
"The art you make and build within this time does not necessarily have to be a song or a painting. It can be a wall with a window. Have you seen how incredibly original a day in the countryside can be? When nothing surprises me, I go to the mountains behind my house and I start searching. It is incredible – the many curious things you can find in three square meters of grass. Maybe the shape of a flower or the way a trunk of a tree is growing – avoiding another growing beside it. This seems to give sense to some things at times."

Progression: What would you be doing if there was no Stick in your life?
Cides: "I have a trick for myself when I ask this same question. The trick is that I imagine that in another parallel reality, I am doing another kind of life, maybe doing theater. I ask myself, “What would you be doing if the theater was not in your life?” I answer, “Playing the Stick….” So, playing the Stick is the “other thing” that I am doing now.

Progression: Has playing the Stick changed how you listen to music?
Cides: "This is a good question. I think a little, perhaps, but for the most part, when you play the Stick, besides playing a new technique, you also are playing “new instruments.” You now play the bass, guitar, piano parts and your fingers now also become “tactile percussionists.” So, it is an all new thing and when you listen to other music, your attention also goes to these parts of the songs, and the combinations that make the whole composition. So, now you also become an arranger, more than just a guitar or bass player."

Progression: Did it open up other styles of music for you to perform?
Cides: "I think other styles of music come to you from your own curiosity, not only from an instrument. Musicians and journalists are similar – the spirit in the work is in this curiosity."

Progression: What do you when you find it difficult to come up with new ideas and sounds?
Cides: "It gets me worried and depressed! I am basically obsessive with sound, and I work for long periods of time – maybe too long – to find the sound that I hear in my mind. I found that a good idea for me is to take a break, and start with another song. When I come back to the first one, it sounds different, and my ideas are fresher."

Progression: What advice would you give to someone that is considering taking on the Stick?
Cides: "I have no advice for them, just to say that the Stick is either your instrument or it isn’t. I think this instrument is a great reason to play music. Other things can also be reasons, and each musician finds his or her own."

Progression: To someone just getting started?
Cides: "Play a lot! No teacher, no guide, no technique. There will he plenty of time for that, but in the beginning you can discover your own mistakes and your limits of creative intuition. After that, you can start to play your instrument.”

Progression: What kind of music do you like to play in live shows and recordings?

Cides: "My solo performances give me a lot of good feelings, travels and nice moments in my life. I also have other projects and one is a new trio, The Electrik Consort. One of the instruments featured in this group is the Hurdy-Gurdy, a type of antique violin that you play while turning on a crank. We play a weird kind of music with loops, electronic rhythms and ethnic percussion. Another of my favorite current side projects is a CD collaboration that includes the fantastic Tim Alexander from PRIMUS on drums. "

Progression: You have a natural sense of humor and passion for life, music, and the arts. A rare and charming storyteller, will you tell the readers a story?
Cides: "A story…… mmmm….... I remember a lot of experiences with much affection. I think that what decided my perception of the music business was being involved with legendary figures such as Rick Wakeman, Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Fish, Roger Hodgson….. to name a few. I think I was very surprised to be playing my songs in the shows of these artists. Especially because my songs have no pretensions at all of being on the pop charts or for any economic purpose or gain. I suppose the artists that accepted my presence there, did only because they wanted to hear someone who really just wanted to make music – especially Roger Hodgson and Fish, with whom I shared a couple of dinners and beers."

"I have a lot of good memories of these concerts and I’ll tell of one here that I have never told. So… Roger, if you ever read this, I apologize…!”
“We were doing one of ten concerts that Hodgson played in South America. The concert promoters decided that I would open each show, so I was on “tour staff.” Every show was incredible, especially for me. Every night I was standing in front of thousands of people – me, alone on stage with my Stick and illuminated by a white light – which made me kind of an outcast among the crowd."

"There was always a very positive response to my music at these shows, especially in Peru. There were hundreds of people in the audience with infrared lights that were so popular at the time. So, as I was getting ready to start that night, the whole stage was filled with infrared lights that blinked on and off, and the man that presented the show walked on stage and announced that the show would begin in just a few minutes. I was standing on one side of the stage and thinking, “Oh my God, when I enter the stage, people will see that I am not Roger Hodgson and they will burn me alive with those infrared lights!
"I could imagine myself playing underneath this “shower of hot rays.” So I spoke with one of the promoters of my concerns with all these lights, but we did not find a solution. At the last minute, I came up with an idea. I decided to take the matter into my own hands and speak to the announcer. Putting on the best face I could of “serious musician,” I told him, “Tell the promoters that Mr. Hodgson will not go out to the stage if these infrared rays are not shut off right now.” Without hesitation, the presenter went out to the stage and up to the microphone, announcing this message to the audience. All the infrared lights shut down immediately!"
"Within a minute and a half, I appeared on the stage and said, “Good evening, Peru!”"

Progression: In conclusion, this writer feels that this world is a better place because Guillermo Cides and his music are in it. Thank you, Mr. Cides, for your interview. For more information, please visit the Stick Center at

Cides with Rick Wakeman
© Progression • Winter 2006
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see Guillermo Cides video concert in France