Long before the first of his 16 Grammys and decades before winning the first of two Oscars, Gustavo Santaolalla was well established as one of the main creative forces in the early Argentine rock nacional movement of the ‘60s. “Visionary” is the word that better synthesizes his many facets: Singer, composer, producer guitarist, charango and ronroco player, talent scout, entrepreneur… His entire career is all about finding an identity, a search he began at age 16 years with the band Arco Iris, a pioneer in the fusion of Latin American folk and rock. He followed Arco Iris with Soluna (which featured a then-unknown Alejandro Lerner), and after moving to the United States in the late ‘70s, he formed the band Wet Picnic and began a solo career that includes three albums: the influential Santaolalla in 1982, the rare gem G.A. S. in 1995, and finally Ronroco (1998), an entirely instrumental album played on charango.
As a producer, his career started with León Geico’s eponymous 1973 debut, continued in the ‘80s with iconic albums by G.I.T. and Mexico’s Maldita Vecindad, and exploded in the ‘90s with Maldita Vecindad’s masterpiece El Circo (1991), their fellow countrymen Molotov (their 1997 debut sold over 2 million copies worldwide), Argentina’s Divididos (La era de la boludez), and the first in a long list of classic recordings he produced for a new Mexican group that would change the rules of the game for rock en español: Café Tacuba.
The inclusion of one of the songs from Ronroco in the soundtrack of The Insider (Michael Mann, 1999), was the first step in his career as composer of soundtracks, working on films of some of today’s most important directors such as Ang Lee, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Walter Salles. Santaolalla was brilliant on iconic movies such as Amores Perros, 21 Grams, The Motorcycle Diaries, North Country, Brokeback Mountain, and Babel; with these movies he won two BAFTAs, a Golden Globe , and two Oscars in a row for Best Original Score for Brokeback Mountain and Babel). In December 2012, the Walter Salles film On the Road, based on Jack Kerouac’s classic, was released featuring a score by Santaolalla. In 2013, Gustavo scored the soundtrack for the highest selling new video game of the year, “The Last of Us” for which he has already been nominated for a VGX (Spike) Award.
Starting in 2002, Santaolalla combined his talents as producer, performer, and composer for Bajofondo, which has released three albums, plus a remixed one. The group have won three Latin Grammys; most recently two for 2013’s Presente, which gained Latin Grammys for Best Instrumental Album and Best Alternative song as well as a nomination for Best Album. The band has also won two Premios Gardel Awards – Argentina’s most prestigious music award.
Among the numerous awards and distinctions received by Gustavo: Premio Gardel, Konex de Platino, Personalidad del Año (CAPIF), two Grammy awards, and 14 Latin Grammy Awards. In 2014, Santaolalla released a solo instrumental album entitled “Camino” through Sony Masterworks. He also collaborated with legendary songwriter Paul Williams on a theatrical musical based on Guillermo Del Toro’s cinematic masterpiece Pan’s Labyrinth, as well as the animated feature film “The Book of Life” (also produced by Guillermo Del Toro). The highly in demand Santaolalla also worked on “Arrabal” – a theatrical presentation depicting the story of a young girl in Buenos Aires , Argentina. The action takes place in the early nineties, in the tumultuous aftermath of the military fascist regime that ended with 30.000 people “disappeared” during the seventies. In addition, he continues traveling around the world performing live with Bajofondo and giving talks and Master classes.