Interview with KANDIA – Colombian musician and singer

by Michael Gaitskell

Seems like everyday, we meet brave musicians that decided to leave their home countries behind for a chance to make music in United States. A good number of musicians come with a bag full of hopes and dreams to the “land of opportunity”, but that same land is full of others trying to make it to the top as well. Sometimes it feels like a crazy plan: just coming in the United States is not a guarantee for anybody, even Americans find it hard to make it to the top in most cases.

This time, instead of asking why are musicians coming to the United States, we want to know why are they leaving their home countries in the first place. Most of these artists leave because of personal reasons and also to continue expanding on the craft they worked back home. So there has got to be a reason for a person that seek a helping hand in a country with different music culture and scene.

To find some of the answers to this question, in this opportunity we interviewed KANDIA, a Colombian artist currently based in the city of Sacramento. With over 15 years of professional experience in the music industry, Carlos Mario Kandia (KANDIA) has performed in various Television Reality Shows like The X Factor, and Latin American Idol. He has been part of musical theatre productions in Colombia including “The Biggest Story Ever Sung” performed at the Lincoln Center in New York City.

He kindly answered our questions:

When did you leave Colombia?

I left on December 2014, and came to Sacramento to live with my wife, who was my girlfriend at that time

What were you doing in your home country?

I was working, working real hard. My weeks consisted of me waking up at 8 am and going back to bed at 3 a.m. after working in Jingle productions, singing in restaurants, performing in musical theatre shows, recording music, and working on any other kind of music-related job I could find.

So this means you already had a professional career back in Colombia, right?

Yes. Yes I had a career. I was doing all these jobs, and I was earning a good amount of money to be economically stable.

Did you enjoy making music there?

Oh yes, absolutely. There is a lot of talent and my family and friends are there. But I couldn’t find anywhere to expand.

Can you further explain that last point?

It is not that you cannot become a big, known artist in Colombia. What happens is that my next step in my career would have been almost impossible in Colombia. I had to work many different jobs that would take time, and to make it to the radio is really hard and expensive.

Is Payola a thing?

Big time.

What else was stopping the growth of your career?

Opening for bigger artists. In Colombia it is absolutely complicated to open shows for bigger acts if you’re not in the close circle of the event organizers. Even to open for Latin artists. An opening act is really important for upcoming artists, and here in Sacramento I have found the opportunity to open for the same Latin stars I wouldn’t have had a chance in Colombia.

Did you work on your own projects?

I did. But most of the time I was working for someone else’s projects. In Sacramento I have been able to start my own thing, it wasn’t easy, but I have it now.

Did you have camaraderie with fellow musicians?

Absolutely. I still have a lot of great talented friends in Colombia.

Would you like to go back?

Even though my family and close friends are there, I wouldn’t at this time of my life. I will definitely travel to work with talented artists, engineers, and producers. But I feel if that if I go back at this moment in my life, I would be stuck back again to what I used to do before I left.

And how did you make it here?

Well there is still a lot of work to do. I am working on my music, shows, I am music teacher I can finally life and have enough money to sustain my family. And I do it all through music so I am grateful. But it is not for everybody. You usually come and need to work some other job before music covers your bills, and you will go through hard times and cry. But you have to know and be confident that “you’re missing just one day to make it”. That is what keeps me going, because I know that that day will come and it can be tomorrow.

KANDIA performs in the cities of Sacramento, San Francisco and others. He keeps a busy agenda and works daily on his music.

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