We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrés Soto and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrés, why did you pursue a creative career?
Ever since I was a little kid I found joy in being creative. My mom taught me how to read a little bit earlier than the rest of the kids in my preschool, so I always associated learning with fun instead of with school. But why the arts? I had a steady diet of Disney and Looney Tunes, so I was drawn to animation because of its characters, their humor, its music… they seemed able to do anything! Did Bugs Bunny ever have a dull moment? Then at age 7 we rented Fantasia, and I discovered the beauty of classical music. But I didn’t associate it with “relaxation” – I just saw Mickey trying to magically control brooms, some hippos dancing ballet, flowers and mushrooms dancing Russian music, etc. I think that planted a seed in me. For the following years I thought that it meant I was going to be an animator when I grew up – so I took cartooning classes. It wasn’t until I reached adolescence that I realized it was the music I loved the most.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Having moved into a new culture at age 17, I have always identified with foreigners and immigrants. This country has been very welcoming and supportive to me – it was built by immigrants, after all. One of the best features Americans possess is their optimism and encouraging nature. My college classmates were unbelievably supportive, even when I probably wasn’t exhibiting any signs of talent! But thanks to their support I was able to believe in myself and continue pursuing my craft. But since I started with music relatively late, I always felt a little bit of a chip on my shoulder, feeling like I never really belonged or had what it takes to impress who I thought were the gatekeepers – I applied to many music schools and never even sniffed an interview!
But fortunately I was admitted into NYU for graduate school, and I kept refining my skills in New York City. I wanted to move to LA after grad school and pursue film scoring, but I wasn’t bold enough to make the move. I kicked about in NYC for a few years, wondering when my career would start. Looking back to that decade, I now realize that it had already started, and I was developing the character traits that are necessary to survive in this industry. I kept scoring short films, a few features, and some orchestral compositions were performed in my native Costa Rica to some acclaim, so I kept developing my confidence little by little. The lesson I learned is to never take any stage of life for granted – every project and every challenge teaches you something new that will help you move forward. Every experience shapes you into the artist that you need to be. The key is to persevere and keep swimming.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Now that I have been in LA for a couple of years, I realize that it’s a city that is better to live in than to visit. So instead of hitting some touristy or trendy places, I would invite them to have experiences as if they actually lived here: a screening here and there, a hike with some friends, brunch somewhere fancy, a food truck somewhere seedy, an escapade into the desert or into the mountains, etc. I would like them to see that LA is not only what we see on TV, that there are plenty of contrasts even in the same street. I remember one night I attended a fancy event that was attended by some celebrities, was able to talk to some of them, and then me and a friend went to wash vans in the airport at midnight to make some extra money! That’s the kind of experience that I think is more memorable and defines our city more truthfully.
But to answer your question, I always end up taking my friends to Griffith Observatory so they can overlook the city at dusk and see the orange horizon melt into indigo. We make a point of finding a good food truck, for I believe a taco is a humble street food that should not cost more than $3! And when each of my siblings came to visit me the first year I was here, we escaped to Big Sur for an epic mini-road trip up the coast. I remember we found the best seafood burrito in Morro Bay.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The first who come to mind are my parents, Eduardo and Karolina – I was born when they were very young and ever since they have never stopped working hard to provide my siblings and I with every opportunity imaginable. They always encouraged me to excel in my studies and to pursue my dreams. It was their decision to leave our beloved Costa Rica when we were teenagers and move to the US, hopeful of an adventurous future. Against all odds, their three kids, of which I am the oldest, chose careers that many parents would have warned against: I dove into my far-fetched music dreams, my brother into filmmaking and my sister into archaeology. We joke that we just watched Indiana Jones too many times and we each wanted to be John Williams, Steven Spielberg, and Indiana Jones, respectively!
Ignacio Guevara, Glorianna Ximendaz, Rafa Castro.