An interview with Tone about “Nova Kanto”
April 26, 2012
An interview with Tone, our favorite Esperanto rapper. Many thanks to the heroic efforts of Alexander Osintsev for making this happen.
You can also listen to the full interview in Esperanto:
Tone: Hello, and hello dear listeners!
AO: How are you nowadays?
Tone: I’m doing excellently. Autumn just began in Brazil. So, new season, new dreams, and new feelings, right?
AO: Dear listeners, Tone’s well-known song, which is called “Nova Kanto” (New Song) appeared in a documentary by American director Sam Green, and I’d like to ask several questions about that today. Tone, how did you first become interested in Esperanto?
Tone: I became an Esperantist totally randomly. I live in the state of São Paulo and my family lives a thousand kilometers away from here in another state. After one in São Paulo, I returned to my family’s city, family’s state, to wander. And when I arrived there, during the first day my sister asked me: “Tone, have you heard people talking about Esperanto?” And I said: “No.” “Ha, it’s a language, and it would be interesting if you studied it so we could communicate using that language.” So, that was the way in which Esperanto entered my life, the way in which I became an Esperantist. When I returned to São Paulo I immediately searched for a place to study the language. That happened 20 years ago.
AO: And how long have you been involved in music?
Tone: Music is a hobby for me. Music is not work, and because of that I call myself someone who makes music, not a professional musician. Rap is the style that attracted me in the beginning, because I felt that that style, which originated out of hip-hop culture, has the same ideology as the ideology of Capoeria, a sport that I practice. And somewhat similar to the ideology of Esperanto as well.
AO: Do you create the music yourself, and also write the lyrics yourself?
Tone: Yes, yes, the lyrics are always thought up directly in Esperanto and all created by me.
AO: Tone, “Nova Kanto” is an excellent song. How did you write it? Did that happen very quickly, or did you need a lot of time to do it?
Tone: “Nova Kanto” was born piece by piece. A poem by Alexander Dambrauskas influenced me to write “Nova Kanto.” I read that poem, memorized it, and began to sing it. Afterwords, I created my part in the rap style. From those few verses by Dambrauskas, I created only the refrain “Esperanto estas nova kanto, mia kaj via la lingvo internacia.” (Esperanto is a new song, mine and yours, the international language.) After that, I created the first and second parts of “Nova Kanto.” So it was because of the poem that “Nova Kanto” was born.
AO: Could you recite that part of the song?
Tone: Yes, of course.
Eighteen hundred fifty nine
Came a person to the world as if
He was sent for a missionary task
Of high quality. On the infinite earth
The fifteenth of December was the date
Białystok, a Polish town, the candidate
To receive the messenger. The language prophet
Who changed the world without using a bayonet
Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof
Was the name of the person
Who created a tongue to dispel the language ghost
Esperanto is a new song
Mine and yours, the international language.
That is the first part of the song.
AO: Thank you! Your song appeared in a documentary about Esperanto, which was made by a non-Esperantist about the movement and about the ideals of Esperanto. What do you personally think about the Esperanto movement nowadays?
Tone: Well, when you speak about the Esperanto movement, you speak about action, right? As everyone who speaks Esperanto knows, Esperanto goes from place to place by means of private actions. I think that Esperanto is in the correct position, the correct location, where it should be to become relevant. Thanks to several communication methods, primarily the Internet, Esperanto day by day reaches locations never before reached. By means of the Internet you can disseminate work, disseminate courses, disseminate anything related to everyone, and the Internet, for me, is a great tool for spreading the language. For me that is the natural operation, the natural path of the language.
AO: What must Esperantists do, that they aren’t doing, for Esperanto to succeed?
Tone: Talk, just talk. If you speak the language you already work for it. It is speaking. If you have an opportunity, if you have the chance to guide a course, hand out flyers and show the language to anyone, excellent. But if you speak the language, you’re already helping it. It’s sufficient that you speak, meet others and speak, speak, speak.
AO: In July in São Paulo the first Esperanto Film Festival occurred during the Brazilian Congress of Esperanto, and you participated. During the presentation of the documentary “La Universala Lingvo” (The Universal Language) you had the chance to speak to the audience and participants about how your song appeared in the film. Could you tell that secret to our listeners?
Tone: It’s really not a secret, right? When I was contacted about the use of the music in the film, it really surprised me. And for me it was really nice, because when you know that something you made is useful, that’s a stimulus for you to continue the work that you do. The work is much more than a film; it’s really a documentary about our language and a documentary about the language from long ago to today. The ability of the filmmaker is to connect one thing to another. So, to the listeners I can say it’s a pleasure to know that something simple which you made is suitable to raise the level of something else that was already high quality. In fact, the film gave the music a new body.
AO: Thank you, Tone. I wish you inspiration for the creation of more Esperanto music, which will delight us and maybe appear in other Esperanto films.
Tone: Yes, yes, yes. Of course. Inspiration comes because the language itself is inspiration for us. It remains only to capture that essence, and soon, soon there will be new songs.
Alex and Tone.