I started with music when I was very young, in the local schoolhouse. Originally, I was a conga player. When I was 12, I played with a combo, a well-known group from Atalaya. From there, it was natural that I passed over to practicing with the guitar. I’ve always had the ability to make people dance. Even when I was young with just a beat up acoustic guitar, playing in the logger camps, I could always make people dance.
The kind of music I play is cumbia, cumbia selvática (jungle cumbia) and comes from a personal feeling that I have that I put into my music. The music is supposed to transmit that feeling to the people listening. In this way it’s really no different than any other kind of music. Music is an expression of a place. My place is the jungle. It’s this self-same jungle that absorbs me with the experiences it offers. These are the things we live here in the jungle. Of course, I also express feelings about love. But these are also inspired by the jungle and its creatures: the Toayo, for example, a bird that has no nest; or the Shiwango, a vulture-like bird that feeds on carrion; or a mischievous monkey. These are all things here that have inspired me. And our language! Of course, we speak Spanish. But it’s not the Spanish from Spain or even Lima. We have so many other languages out here in the Amazon. The main indigenous language where I live is Asháninka. But there are plenty other languages too, and that’s all contributed to the special way we speak out here. We have lots of words that have to be explained to outsiders, words for foods, for animals, for people, for plants . . . . (Excerpt from the liner notes to "La Cumbia Selvática")