La cura de la semana. Ilustración: Cortesía del entrevistado.
La cura de la semana. Ilustración: Cortesía del entrevistado.

The cure of the week tastes like electronic

12 minutos / Javier Machado

16.09.2020 / Interviews

Rafael Ryan Alfonso (or simply Ryan, in the Cuban electronic scene), learned the art of DJing in a self-taught way. He fiddled with double cassette recorders and adapted pitch-control or throwing house parties in his neighborhood. He is currently the host of La cura de la Semana, a radio program specializing in electronic music that is broadcast from Radio Taíno, and which is on the air for ten years. The idea arose from a radio script for one of the sound production courses at the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (Uneac). After some meetings with directors of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT), the proposal was approved to be released as a section of the Cuba Tonight program. It started with 20 minutes, at two years it already had one hour, and at the moment it occupies the two hours of Cuba Tonight broadcast.

Why did you think a space like that was necessary?

Those of us born in the ʼ80s go through several phases in technology; We started listening to the radio, we went through the beta, the VHS, the CD and then the digital universe. On the radio side, Cuba Tonight accompanied many during all those stages, there we nourished ourselves with electronic music, there was always a bit of techno, house ...

Between 1999 and the early 2000s, Cuba took a turn in the consumption of electronics; there was like a stop in general, and other rhythms had an impact on the nightlife, so at that time we shared a lot of music; If it wasn't because of what you copied from others, you didn't know what was happening.

When the Internet came to us, everything changed. The sources from which we received the music began to diversify, new styles and subgenres began to arrive that had hardly been heard on the island. You could find Cuban DJ producers with solid work and with very distant references.

So I felt that a space was needed to promote these sounds. There were other DJ producers who also worked in Cuba Tonight, such as Yoeslan Martínez, but it was not enough. Not only did the pioneers of the movement exist, new faces were coming, a second generation that is ours. As a consumer, I felt that there was no space where people would comment on the music they listened to: curiosities, reviews, criticism. As an artist I needed it too, and I think the audience felt the same. So I tried to fill that void. How has the show evolved, from its inception to today? The format has varied throughout these ten years. Only in airtime have we gone from 20 minutes to two hours, so we have achieved greater flexibility. Not being a broadcaster by profession, at first he spoke very fast and played only five songs. When we reached an hour, the dramaturgy relaxed a bit. Although there are elements that have been maintained, in general the program has been transformed. For example, it has different spaces to share with the public information about what electronic dance music is, which has allowed people to educate themselves in terms of genres, artists, technical elements, and so on. I remember that, in the section Information and intense culture, I started talking about the telarmonium, the first device to produce electronic music.

How has the show evolved, from its inception to today?

The format has varied throughout these ten years. Only in airtime have we gone from 20 minutes to two hours, so we have achieved greater flexibility. Not being a broadcaster by profession, at first he spoke very fast and played only five songs. When we reached an hour, the dramaturgy relaxed a bit.

Although there are elements that have been maintained, in general the program has been transformed. For example, it has different spaces to share with the public information about what electronic dance music is, which has allowed people to educate themselves in terms of genres, artists, technical elements, and so on. I remember that, in the section Information and intense culture, I started talking about the telarmonium, the first device to produce electronic music.

In addition, sometimes we put together a personalized program, where artists are interviewed and their work is deepened, or we do radio shows, which is when it mixes in the clubs and we broadcast live from there.

I have tried that the program is always different from its peers. Even from Cuba Tonight itself. All your staff have helped me a lot, they have understood my position that it has to be different, with its own identity. I think La Cure de la Semana has managed to obtain its own label, with which I always advocate for it to be considered as an independent show.

What references have you followed to get to the current program?

I am an artist who was formed from the radio and that always marks you. Therefore, my references are, for the most part, the radio spaces that contemplate electronic music in their programming.

From the international scene, I can mention Armin van Buuren with A State of Trance; Essential Mix by Pete Tong, who is one of the most notable DJ producers, radio hosts and entrepreneurs in the electronic world. Other references are the programs of Hernán Cattaneo and John Digweed, which make it more of a pure mix; Global Deejays, by Carl Cox; Proton Radio, which is my distributor, and which works both as a record label and as a station. It seems magical to me that most of the DJs and producers in the world do this work that is so current in the music industry.

Throughout these years the program has put a significant part of the national electronic scene on the dial, how does it connect with DJs and producers?

In an organic way. We contact the artist to participate or vice versa, when they have new music. We carry out the monthly programming and so we have everything ready in advance. Some send me their new productions by email and we insert them in the space dedicated to national electronic music. There are creators who are always in constant communication with The cure of the week, either by sending music or sessions. I like to summon them to have that meeting with the media at least once a month.

The cure of the week. Photo: Courtesy of the interviewee.

The cure of the week. Photo: Courtesy of the interviewee.

How does The Cure of the Week relate to your listeners?

Listeners interact in different ways, from the phone number that is given to call live, by text message or by mail. They participate in contests that we launch about artists and songs. I have listeners of all ages, from people over 50 to students who listen to it from the Medicine residence. I have received a tuning report from places as dissimilar as Granma, Miami, Brazil, Ukraine ...

Does the program have any projection towards the new media and platforms that are gaining popularity among Cubans, now that Internet access is more extensive?

That is vital, because we must not be left behind. We are working on the web, although we have a space within Coocuyo, the official electronic music portal in Cuba. We want there to always be transmissions within this same website. We would like La Cure de la Semana to become a radio station. The idea is ambitious. It seems to me that two hours a week is a short time to discuss all the topics, explain what the genres are about, do an interview, have an artist residency because they have an interesting job and present a solid program, or so that there may be other hosts with topics of interest, criticism, reviews, exclusives, research, new ways of making music ...

One of the visions for the future is to turn it into a radio station and diversify ourselves, since in recent years most of the programming has been destined to the progressive house genre with its different, deeper and more melodic aspects.

What have been the achievements that you would highlight in these years of existence of space?

Un logro es tener un lugar a donde ir a hacer lo que me gusta. Sinceramente hay veces que me paso de lunes a jueves trabajando en el programa, editando tracks, haciendo mi música, publicándola aquí y allá, buscando dónde tocar o tocando si tengo alguna presentación. La cura de la semana es como el impulso para trabajar el fin de semana íntegramente, y es una depuración de cargas negativas una vez que entro y salgo de la cabina.

Personally, throughout the ten years I have professionally improved myself together with colleagues from Radio Taíno, who have taught me to express myself with specific codes of this medium. One of the greatest achievements is that most of the national artists have performed. The cure of the week also collaborates on the first and third Thursdays of each month with MOAI, a Spanish agency to which I belong and which functions as a platform for artists and clubs with comprehensive service around the world and which covers various fields within the industry. such as showcases, event promotion, streaming presentations, among others.

From the Cuban scene we have managed to include some of the best known producers such as Iván Lejardi, Djoy de Cuba, Dj Dark, Kike Wolf and Wichy D´ Vedado and others such as Roger Escalante, Daniela Vázquez, Dhany G., Dj Thellus , Bjoyce. Outside the capital, Electrozona (Holguín), Richy Castro (Camagüey), Seycel (Pinar del Río) have been able to attend.

In order to turn it into a great cultural exchange, we have managed to get different international artists to participate: Darío Núñez (Spain), Darin Epsilon (Germany), Fernando Olaya (Colombia), AFFKT (Spain), Pedro Capelossi (Brazil), Ge Bruny (Brazil), Dynacom (Argentina), Aaron Sevilla (Mexico), Yuichiro Miyamoto (Japan).

We are already in the design plan and receiving material. We will put a lot of emphasis on this because we are in the digital age and around the world, the return to the holidays, to the crowded crowds, is delayed. Therefore, it is a good opportunity to influence the sale of music in the largest stores and best platforms of its kind. The main genre will be progressive house, which together with aspects such as deep house, progressive deep, melodic house and techno, plus a section of experimental music and down tempo, will complete the label's proposal.

We are already in the design plan and receiving material. We will put a lot of emphasis on this because we are in the digital age and in the whole world the return to the parties, to the crowded capacity of people, is delayed. Therefore, it is a good opportunity to influence the sale of music in the largest stores and best platforms of its kind. The main genre will be progressive house, which together with aspects such as deep house, progressive deep, melodic house and techno, plus a section of experimental music and down tempo, will complete the label's proposal.

The celebration is in style because we arrived with a record label, two hours of broadcast, with ambitions to achieve a radio station, working on a website and, when everything calms down, we will start doing the events of La cura de la semana with the roster of national and international artists.

What is your opinion on the relationship between Cuban electronic creators and other cultural institutions, and vice versa?

How do you assess the health of the Cuban electronic music movement? The health of the Cuban electronic music movement is high. Of course with its problems and faults that still prevent us from moving further. He is in good health on the side of creation. There are many DJs and producers making quality material, of all genres, who publish their music internationally and sign with record labels or digital aggregators. With this they make known what is the creation of electronic music in Cuba. There are several festivals throughout the national geography, many events, but one of the shortcomings is that there is not a club dedicated solely to electronics, but places where artists of the genre are programmed, from time to time. This space has been one of the claims. For more than a year we have been working hard to achieve this.

The cure of the week. Photo: Courtesy of the interviewee.

The cure of the week. Photo: Courtesy of the interviewee.

How do you assess the health of the Cuban electronic music movement?

The health of the Cuban electronic music movement is high. Of course with its problems and faults that still prevent us from moving further. He is in good health on the side of creation. There are many DJs and producers making quality material, of all genres, who publish their music internationally and sign with record labels or digital aggregators. With this they make known what is the creation of electronic music in Cuba. There are several festivals throughout the national geography, many events, but one of the shortcomings is that there is not a club dedicated solely to electronics, but places where artists of the genre are programmed, from time to time. This space has been one of the claims. For more than a year we have been working hard to achieve this.

However, a club is not the solution. I'm thinking that we still have a long way to go and insert ourselves into other media. We continue to lack research, reviews and criticism. There is little communication and journalism focused on electronic music, the examples are scarce. In addition to radio, there should be more publications that talk about electronics and what happens in our country about this music.

Javier Machado

Javier Machado

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