Henry D’Arthenay sits in the living room of his new apartment in Mexico City, thousands of miles from his hometown of Caracas, Venezuela. We’re a few weeks shy of four years from when the singer-guitarist for Latin rock group La Vida Bohème spent two hours with me on Skype, explaining the massive protests in Caracas after an election placed the deceased Hugo Chavez’s chosen successor, Nicolás Maduro, in the presidential seat. Neither of us could have predicted then the upheaval he and his bandmates would endure in order to complete their latest album, La Lucha.
“It was like a month after we talked, actually. After we talked, everything changed!” he says, explaining the earth-shattering abruptness of it all with a snap of his fingers. Their homeland began its political deterioration with continued inflation and devaluation of the bolivar, international airlines abandoning the country, lower oil production and food shortages. The band made a last-minute decision to remain in Mexico City after their appearance at Vive Latino in 2014. D’Arthenay’s mother died in Caracas from cancer the following year.
“I really understand, now that we’re in Mexico City, how closed we were from everything else, from everyone and everything happening, because the country started to build a fence around itself,” he explains of life back home. “For me as a human being, returning to my country right now is not a possibility. For me to make a living there, there’s no future I can bring for myself there, and the only way I can bring a future for my country is by making my art.”