Interview with Paco de
"We all copied a maestro and everyone
copied Ricardo's or Sabicas' falsetas, others copied Mairena's cantes, and everyone
played the same and sang the same"
by Javier Primo
/ menos uno editorial SL 2001
It's a pleasure to be speaking to the maestro.
Is coming to Spain something special for you? I suppose
everywhere is important, the US, Japan...
Spain is the most important of all. It's where you feel, I
don't know, it's your home, you know the people. When you don't know the audience,
they're a global entity, a block. But when you get to Spain you know that there
are a hundred people you know and you're not playing for a block of human beings,
but rather for a bunch of individuals you know are out there. And they're knowledgeable
and they're guitarists, you know? And you care about their opinions and you're
affected by what they might say.
There are 50 guitarists sitting in the first row.
Yeah, that's it (laughter). All in the front row. (More laughter).
Can we be expecting a new record from you some time soon?
Look. I was working on the record but what happened is I'm
going through a lazy period and also I really suffer when I have to compose. I
get into this thing of "how pretty!", but the next day "maybe it's
not so pretty after all", and the next day "this is lousy", and
the next day "oh yes... this is actually very nice!". Know what I mean?
You get into that rut that you don't know what's good or bad any more, and you
have to operate in a world of intuition and that's emotionally exhausting, and
you get worn out and you're composing and you say "I don't feel like composing".
I already had things prepared and I've got them recorded, and I'm all "strung
out", that's the thing I want most to do now, just "cool out".
"Cool out" Paco?
You know, like on the sofa (laughter). Take it easy...
Can we expect the record for next year?
Yeah, because now I don't have any time. I was thinking of
getting it out before beginning the tour, but time got away from me and now on
tour I can't compose. Because it's concerts every day and traveling without sleep
and there's no atmosphere for composing nor for chasing the muses (laughter).
It's not the best place nor the ideal conditions.
I heard you're putting together a recording and publishing
company along with Vicente Amigo and Javier Limón. How is that coming along?
Yes, yes. The last time I was in Madrid we were talking about
that and we decided to set up a little record company to have some fun and seek
out people we like and who aren't known. We've already drawn up the corporation
and now we're waiting for each one of us to have some time and feel like producing
a record. We ourselves aren't going to play because we're signed up with our respective
companies, but we are going to produce records of people we like, and also compose.
It's an appealing project, I like it a lot because I like cante very much and
I feel like producing singers.
When are you going to accompany singing? You do things over
there in Mexico, but not a complete record accompanying...
Well yes, I like the idea, but the problem is time. I always
either have to do something, make a record, do a tour or whatever... know what
I mean?... I'm like bought up. I pretty tired of the life I've been living, the
tours are a drag, there are lots of concerts and I'm feeling like giving it up
and doing what I really want to do, not work wholesale, like I've been working
all my life. I've worked like a dog and I keep working like a dog. Now I've got
a tour coming up that's a killer, concerts, traveling. And what I really want
to do is compose and do what I like.
Is it hard to get out and tour?
It was never that hard but lately, I just don't feel like it.
It's like those trips don't make sense any more. I've always been very strong,
I am strong, and I can take whatever they dish out, but it's hard, very hard.
And you get fed up. And what for? I don't need they money, I don't need anything,
not fame nor applause, the only thing I want is to "cool out" (laughter).
Cool out and compose, that yes, I like to compose, it's what most appeals to me
now. But you get caught in the rat race.
Is there anyone in particular you'd like to accompany?
There are people out there. What happens is I hear some tape
or other, two songs, or a verse, and then I feel like going out and finding those
people to really hear them. And see how they sing and investigate and make records
of cante because I really miss the records I made with Camarón. That was
something very special in my life, every so often, I'd lock myself up with him
and we'd be together for months making a record and that nourished me, and inspired
me, I liked that.
That was heaven.
Yes, then all of a sudden, but it's not easy to find someone
From over there do you follow the flamenco productions?
The records people bring out?
Yes yes. I've always got the records they're making. I'm always
listening to everything there is.
How do you view the present moment for flamenco?
Well fine. I like that there are so many people who want to
do new things, who want to create, it's quite a good moment for flamenco. I think
that the attitude of flamenco artists is very positive now. It's not the generation
I grew up with, where we all copied a maestro and everyone copied Ricardo's or
Sabicas' falsetas, others copied Mairena's cantes, and everyone played the same
and sang the same. Now there's an opening in which there isn't so much respect
for that purity which was hammered into us, that you had to sing the cante of
La Trini, and of Joaquín el de la Paula, and of Manuel Torre, and of Chacón,
because that's what's pure. And anything new you do isn't pure... that's ridiculous.
Now everyone wants to do new things, that's where Camarón and I opened
a door, we began to create new music within flamenco. Now they've set a precedent
that everyone who makes a record has to do something new. And then suddenly they
hit you with an old-time traditional seguiriya, or a martinete, as if to say 'hey,
I also know this stuff too', like to shut the purists up, know what I mean? But
all the same there is an attitude of opening and of doing new music. Everyone
wants to be original and that's very good. Well, there's a lot of junk and silliness,
but it has to be that way. Time will eventually sort everything out that's being
done and that which is worthwhile will go on to enrich the flamenco tradition
and in 60 years they'll call it pure (laughter).
You have to trip and fall sometimes.
Of course, it's the only way to learn. By falling.
Paco, what do you think of the image that all the artists
have of you? You're practically a god in flamenco.
Well, it's something I got used to. Because it's always been
like that, ever since I was a child I think. When I was small people praised me
and they'd say "oh, the kid, how the kid plays!... the kid ...the kid..."
So it's something you get used to and it's more a pain in the ass, if you pardon
my language, than anything else. Well, you enjoy it but the responsibility of
being there is huge and every time you make a record you get obsessed and you
want to do it better. It's very nice, I can't complain, but sometimes the responsibility
overcomes the pleasure of doing things, having to do things well can at times
cancel out the pleasure of doing them.
I see. Duquende recently told me that when he met you he
saw a halo around you.
Is that so? (Laughter)
Yeah, and I want to see it too.
by Javier Primo / menos uno editorial SL 2001
Translation: Estela Zatania