Gustavo Santaolalla

Gustavo Alfredo Santaolalla (born 19 August 1951) is an Argentine musician, film composer and producer. He has won Academy Awards for Best Original Score in two consecutive years, for Brokeback Mountain in 2005, and Babel in 2006. More recently, he composed the original score for the video game The Last of Us (2013), and the theme music for The CW series Jane the Virgin (2014–2019) and the Netflix series Making a Murderer (2015–present).

Gustavo Santaolalla
Gustavo Santaolalla on 8 March 2007
Background information
Birth nameGustavo Alfredo Santaolalla
Also known asMoviola
Born (1951-08-19) 19 August 1951
El Palomar, Argentina
GenresLatin rock, electrotango, film scores
Occupation(s)Musician, film composer, producer
InstrumentsGuitar, charango, ronroco, singing, piano, bass
Years active1967–present
Associated actsBajofondo

Life and career

Santaolalla was born in El Palomar, Argentina,[1] and grew up during the military junta and period later known as the Dirty War.[2] His professional music career began in 1967, when he co-founded the group Arco Iris,[3] an Argentine band that pioneered the fusion of rock and Latin American folk as part of rock nacional, Argentine rock music. The band adopted the lifestyle of a yoga commune guided by former model Danais "Dana" Winnycka and her partner, musician Ara Tokatlian. The band had a few hits, such as "Mañanas Campestres" ("Country Mornings"), and made inroads into different forms of expression (notably a ballet piece for Oscar Aráiz), but Santaolalla felt constricted by the strict requirements of Dana's teachings, which prohibited meat, alcohol and drugs. He left the group in 1975.[4]

A year later, he assembled Soluna, in which he played alongside teenage pianist and singer Alejandro Lerner and his then-girlfriend Monica Campins. Together they recorded just one album (Energía Natural, 1977). Santaolalla left for Los Angeles, where he adopted a rock and roll sound and made the rounds with his band Wet Picnic, together with ex-Crucis member Aníbal Kerpel.

He briefly returned to Argentina in 1981, to produce Leon Gieco's Pensar en Nada and record his first solo album.

As a solo artist, he has recorded three albums. His first self-titled album, Santaolalla (1981), broke new ground by incorporating the "eighties" sound into rock in Argentina for the first time. He was joined by Lerner and the Willy Iturry-Alfredo Toth rhythm section, who were two-thirds of the band GIT. His second album, titled Gas, was released in 1995. His most recent solo album, titled Ronroco (1998), contained several tracks with the characteristic sound of the charango, a folk string instrument, that poured into what constituted his next significant endeavor: music for movies. Ronroco also contains his solo piece for charango Iguazu, which has been used in The Insider, Collateral, both by Michael Mann, Babel by Alejandro González Iñárritu, a 2007 Vodafone TV commercial, as well as the HBO TV series Deadwood, the Fox TV series 24, and a 2011 episode of the BBC TV series Top Gear.[5] It also contains the track "De Ushuaia a La Quiaca" used by Walter Salles in his The Motorcycle Diaries.

Santaolalla aided the development of rock en español by acting as producer for Mexican acts, Neón, Maldita Vecindad, Fobia, Molotov, Café Tacuba, and Julieta Venegas; the Colombian singer Juanes; Chilean rock trio Los Prisioneros; Argentine rock musicians Divididos, Bersuit Vergarabat, Érica García and León Gieco's "De Ushuaia a La Quiaca" (1 and 2), among many others.

Santaolalla transferred his efforts to film soundtracks in the late 1990s, producing albums for the films Amores Perros, 21 Grams and The Motorcycle Diaries. Based in California, where he first moved in 1978, one of his contributions has been the instrumental music for the soundtrack to the 2005 Ang Lee film Brokeback Mountain, from which "A Love That Will Never Grow Old" won the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. Santaolalla received the 2006 Academy Award for Original Music Score for Brokeback Mountain.[3] In 2007, he received his second Academy Award for the film score to Babel, beating out such composers as Thomas Newman, Alexandre Desplat, and Javier Navarrete. Gustavo dedicated the award to his father and to his country Argentina.

In addition to his film work, Santaolalla has acted as the producer of Gaby Kerpel's Carnabailito and co-produced the Kronos Quartet's Nuevo, an album which renders homage to the musical heritage of Mexico. He has also been part of the resurgent neo-tango movement, as prime mover behind the Bajofondo Tango Club collective. He is also mentioned as the co-producer of Calle 13's song "Tango del Pecado", a song from their album Residente o Visitante. In 2005 he received the Platinum Konex Award as best Argentine artistic producer of the 1995-2005 decade.

In 2008, Santaolalla composed the soundtrack for the Louis Vuitton film "Where will life take you?" directed by Bruno Aveillan, as part of the "Journeys" Campaign.

In 2008, Santaolalla recorded two songs on "All You Need Is Me", a single by British singer Morrissey. The tracks, "Children In Pieces" and "My Dearest Love" were recorded in Los Angeles with producer Jerry Finn.

He directed music for Aamir Khan's movie Dhobi Ghat, which was released on 21 January 2011.

Santaolalla has also collaborated with Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov on several projects commissioned by soprano Dawn Upshaw. These include the opera Ainadamar, based on the murder of Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, and Ayre, a collection of folk songs, in which Santaolalla plays with a group that calls itself The Andalucian Dogs.

Among his more recent projects are the score for the 2012 film On the Road, produced by Francis Ford Coppola and directed by Walter Salles. In 2012 he was nominated for Producer of the Year at the Latin Grammy Awards for his work on De Noche (Antonio Carmona), Entre la Ciudad y el Mar (Gustavo Galindo) and Rêverie (Luciano Supervielle) co-produced with Juan Campodónico from Bajofondo.

He composed the score for the 2013 survival adventure video game The Last of Us, Santaolalla's first experience in the video game industry. In December 2016, it was announced that Santaolalla was also composing the music for the game's sequel, The Last of Us Part II.[6]

Despite his 40-year career, he doesn't know how to read or write musical notation, nor does he use an orchestra for his soundtracks. He said: “I don’t see myself as a film composer, I see myself as more of an artist that uses different forms to express myself. I love it all.”[7]

In 2015, Santaolalla was inducted into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame.[8]

In September 20 an 21st 2019, Eric Clapton invited him to participate in his Crossroads 2019 in Dallas, Texas, playing and singing, The apology song, De Usuahia a la Quiaca and an amazing version of Ando Rodando, with a Standing ovation at the American Airlines Arena. He also played in the last song of the event on the 21st with Eric Clapton, Gary Clark Jr, Buddy Guy, John Mayers, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Keb’ Mo’, Jimmie Vaughan, James Bay and others.

Santaolalla lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife Alejandra Palacios and children Luna (b. 1994) and Don Juan Nahuel (b. 1999). His eldest daughter Ana (b. 1980) is from a previous relationship with Monica Campins.

Discography, filmography and video games

Title Year Notes
She Dances Alone 1981
Ronroco 1998 Solo work, first release of "Iguazu"
The Insider 1999 Features his song, "Iguazu"
Amores perros 2000
21 Grams 2003
Salinas grandes 2004 TV
The Motorcycle Diaries 2004 BAFTA Award for Original Music Score. See also The Motorcycle Diaries (Soundtrack)
North Country 2005 See also North Country soundtrack
Yes 2005 Features his song "Iguazu"
Brokeback Mountain 2005 Academy Award for Original Music Score. See also Brokeback Mountain:Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Fast Food Nation 2006 Features his song "Iguazu"
Babel 2006 Academy and BAFTA Award for Original Music Score. See also Babel (soundtrack)
Into the Wild 2007 Features his song "Picking Berries"
My Blueberry Nights 2007 Features his song "Pájaros"
I Come With The Rain 2009
The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet's Struggle for Freedom 2010
Nanga Parbat 2010
Biutiful 2010
Dhobi Ghaat 2010
On the Road 2012
The Last of Us 2013 Video game
August: Osage County 2013 [9]
The Book of Life 2014
Wild Tales 2014
Camino 2014 Solo work [10]
Making a Murderer 2015
Borrowed Time 2015 Short
Before the Flood 2016 [11]
Qhapaq Ñan: Desandando El Camino 2016
A Life in 12 Bars 2017
To End a War 2017
All That Divides Us 2017
Narcos: Mexico 2018
The Last of Us Part II 2020 Video game
BIOS 2020

Awards and nominations




  1. "Gustavo Santaolalla discography". Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  2. "Gustavo Santaolalla - How Movie Music Moves Us". On Being with Krista Tippett. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  3. Rohter, Larry (14 August 2008). "Gustavo Santaolalla's Film Scores Are Minimalist and His Tango Is Newfangled". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  4. "ARCO IRIS". Viajero Inmóvil. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  5. "TG What's That Song? - [16x03] February 6th 2011". Final Gear. 29 November 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  6. "PlayStation® Experience 2016 | Day 1". Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  7. Gustavo Santaolalla, Making Music For Both Stage and Screen, PBS News Hour, 14 October 2009)
  8. "Latin Songwriters Hall Of Fame to Induct Emilio Estefan, Myriam Hernandez, Gustavo Santaolalla, Alvaro Torres, Diego Torres and Hector Ochoa Cardenas at the LA MUSA AWARDS. Presented by WorldArts". PR Newsire. 16 September 2015. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  9. "Gustavo Santaolalla Takes Over Scoring Duties on 'August: Osage County'". Film Music Reporter. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  10. "Album Premiere: Gustavo Santaolalla - 'Camino'". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  11. DeFore, John (9 September 2016). "'Before the Flood': Film Review - TIFF 2016". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  12. "Gustavo Santaolalla Named Icon at 15th Annual BMI Latin Music Awards". Retrieved 11 October 2010.
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