Fear the Walking Dead is a wonderfully diverse show full of eclectic characters. Rubén Blades, who plays barber Daniel Salazar, has quite an eclectic background himself. Speaking with Billboard, Blades reveals his political background and singer alter ego Medoro Madera. If that wasn’t enough, Blades, who is an icon in Panama, is also a Harvard-graduated attorney, Panamanian Minister of Tourism, and potential presidential candidate for 2019. To dive deeper into the intriguing mind of Rubén Blades, check out the Q&A below:
Q: As an artist, you’ve been fully independent for some time now. What does that allow you to do?
A: I’m working on several albums. My plan is make all the recordings I can now and move in another direction. I have five or six recorded albums and I’m laying vocal tracks on some of them.
Q: What kind of albums?
A: One is by Medoro Madera, my alter ego. The other is a new salsa recording of songs I had already recorded. I also have a big band recording that includes three trumpets and three trombones. And I’m working on a project I’ve titled “Mixtura” (Mixture), which is totally experimental. I also have an album with [Argentine vocal quartet] Boca en Boca, with my songs performed in four part harmony.
Q: How did you get the part?
A: I collected the Walking Dead comics. And one day, they called me and basically offered the part. I wasn’t sure because I had my whole retirement plan going on. But after speaking with production, I realized the role had a series of challenges that weren’t easy to find. And it’s not easy to find this type of role at my age, either. And, this show will be seen by millions and millions of people. Maybe there will be many that don’t know me as a musician and will now say, ‘Hey, this guy also sings.’”
Q: Talking about government, your role in Fear The Walking Dead does have some government connotations, doesn’t it?
A: The question the series poses is, How would a person react before a catastrophe — before the imploding of the entire moral system? What would we do? What would we be capable of doing? This is a question societies are forced to ask in times of war. And part of the show’s success is that people see in it a way to mention their own response. I think the viewers’ loyalty to the show is due to the fact that people identify with the characters and they project their own fears and vulnerabilities.
For the rest of the interview, head over to Billboard to find out more about Blades’ background and how HE would fight zombies. And if you’re in the mood for some amazing salsa music (who isn’t?) look no further than this recording of Blades from 2006.