We Are Still Alive

An interview with Leo Rojas, winner of the German talent show Das Supertalent, discussing indigenous culture and his visit to Ecuador 

Leo Rojas, the winner of the German TV show Supertalent, stood on the balcony of the Ecuadorian presidential palace next to Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador. Along with other guests of honor, they were getting ready to watch the weekly changing of the guards. Down in the plaza, I was with Leo Rojas’ manager and some giggling schoolgirls who couldn’t stop waving at Leo. The Supertalent winner is also famous in his home country, Ecuador. Leo Rojas had traveled back to Ecuador to shoot his new video, but he never expected that one day he would be standing on the balcony of the presidential palace next to the president of his country or that he would be seeing his face on the news every day.

During his trip to Ecuador I had the chance to interview him. This is why I was standing in the plaza that morning, hoping that Leo was going to be able to give me a little bit of his time. I met him in the palace.

 

 

Leo grinned and said that the president had been happy to see him. He was surrounded by television teams and reporters again.

We were given an exclusive tour of the palace where you can find gifts from all over the world: porcelain dolls from Asia, gold jewelry from Chile, silver vases from Argentina. Leo stopped for a short time in front of every glass window, but it was evident that he was not very impressed by all the gifts given to the presidents of Ecuador. Only a simple necklace decorated with feathers attracted his attention. The necklace was a gift from indigenous people of the Amazon to express their gratitude. Now that’s something Leo can relate to.

 

While walking through the corridors of the palace, Leo was able to spare me some of his time so I grabbed my recorder and started with my first question:

First of all, congratulations on winning the German show Supertalent!  What has changed in your life since then?

It is an incredible feeling. It is such a great pleasure to win the show – not because of the money, but to be the only one, the first one out of 42,000 candidates, that is amazing.  It changed a lot of things in my life, but I will always be Leo, the same guy I always was and I’ll keep doing the things I always did. But above all, I will keep making music.

What is so special about Ecuadorian culture?  What do you want to show your fans?

It’s not only about Ecuadorian culture.  It’s about Indians all over the world. It is about showing that our culture is still alive and that we are able to value what is really important in the world.

What is really important?

It’s important to love nature and to take care of our world and not only appreciate money. It is not about having the newest technology or just searching for one’s own benefits. There’s more to life than that.

Right now you are in Ecuador to shoot your first video clip. What have you been doing these last few days in your home country?

I was in Cuenca, the city where I grew up. My fans gave me the best present ever during the semifinals: my mom surprised me in Germany and now it was my turn to surprise her. I visited my mom at her market stand and it was great. We were so happy to see each other that we cried.  I would also like visit my family in Otavalo, but unfortunately I don’t have time. My family understands this, but I am going to try to come back to Ecuador soon and next time have much more time for my family and friends.

Now, you are back in your home country and realize how beautiful it is. Wouldn’t you like to stay?

No, honestly, I don’t want to. I know that most people don’t understand my opinion in this respect. It’s great to be in Ecuador and to see my family, but Germany is my second home. It would be difficult to stay in Ecuador and leave Germany, although it is hard to live so far away from my family.  I also have family in Germany now.  All the people I meet in the streets who like my music and who believe in me, that’s the greatest thing.  It keeps me going.

Do you ever get homesick when you are in Germany?

Yes, sure, it’s always the same when you are in another country: the first days and weeks everything is fine and then you get this feeling that you want to go back to your family. But that is normal and you should never forget where you came from.  That is very important. But usually when I am homesick, I play my panpipe and make music and then I feel better.

You’ve had a full schedule in the last few days.  What did you not have the time for during this trip?

It is great being in the city, in Quito. A lot is going on here.  It is such a lively city. Being in Cuenca was great as well, but I did not have time to just take off my shoes and feel the land, my land, under my feet or just arrive and breathe deeply. Yes, I think that’s it: most of all I would like to walk barefoot through nature.

Leo’s wish to feel the land did not come true while he was in Quito because after the tour a lunch with the Minister of Tourism was planned at the fancy restaurant of the first-class hotel Plaza Grande.  On the way to the restaurant we crossed the marketplace and Leo caught sight of a stand with empanadas. He explained to his manager that they were selling turnovers filled with meat and that he just had to have one.  At this point it became very clear that this kind man would rather eat an empanada on the street than have a luxury lunch at a first-class restaurant.  That’s the way Leo is: a very nice, simple guy. And that’s why he wants to achieve that Indian culture does not get lost because people show some interest in it.

One Comment

  1. Greeting from over the ocean. Great blog I must return for more.

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