This is expanded from the interview with singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez that ran in today's paper. Below, Rodriguez, whose sudden fame arose thanks to an unknown following in South Africa and a crate-digging Seattle record label, talks about the new opportunities that have opened up thanks to Searching for Sugarman, as well as his appearances on 60 Minutes and The Late Show with David Letterman.
What things have opened up to you as a result of the documentary?
I'm going to be on 60 minutes on October 24th. Bob Simon is doing the anchoring, and I just did the David Letterman show with a 24-piece orchestra. Sony Pictures Classics picked up the tab for the orchestra, and the ads were $80,000. I'm going to be at the Coachella Music Festival. And this is all just happening, as a result of this film. It has excited my musical career.
??When did you first find out about the documentary??? I met Malik Bendjelloul, the director. He's a self-made directo. It's his first film, his first entry into film making. He won the Global Documentary and People Choice Awards ... he's been working real hard to promote it because Sony Pictures Classics is backing it up. I only mention this because there is a reason for my success. Sony Pictures Classics, Sony Legacy, Sony Home Video, Light In The Attic, the movie "Searching For Sugarman," and these kinds of people, agents, are in play right now to make it a success. ??So when Bob Simon asked me, "Was I good?" I didn't answer him. The next day I saw him again, he was here in Detroit, and I said, "I have the answer to that now." And so here's the answer, Joe. This is my answer to him. I said, "I'm better than good." Not because of me, but because of that 24-piece orchestra. Because of everything. I am a lucky guy. ??I met him in '08. I'm in it 8 minutes, and I'm happy to be. ?
How did you feel when you first found out they were making a documentary about you??? I was skeptical. I was skeptical in that I had such an ordinary life. I didn't know what he was going to put in this film, you know? And so he came to Detroit six times [including] once in February with his cinematographer, Camilla Skagerström. She was a sweet heart. She is also Swedish. But they're out there filming in the snow and I went along with everything they wanted. It was just a month or two before Sundance's last entries ... I told him I thought he should come in July. It's so hot and people leave their apartment buildings and go out into the street, or there's February when there's no one out, unless they have to be out. He said, "It's colder here in Detroit than it is back home." I thought that was pretty interesting.
At what point did you stop being skeptical and realize this is something that might be big??? After he finished. He had come here often enough that I knew he was serious, and he kept me in good light, you know? He didn't go into any part of it. I liked that. It's a personal thing once you allow cameras into your private world?
How do you feel your political beliefs have influenced your music??? I think with the current issues, even the two guys running, Obama and Romney, they were talking about marijuana in Colorado yesterday [October 2.] These issues that are so "controversial" are pretty much issues for you to go to jail ... for judges to give verdicts, and for attorneys to make money, and the young people who can't afford it. I use the protest song as a vehicle to address those issues. I'm not pro-drugs. But i'm not for criminalizing a natural herb.