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Diego el Cigala
Biography, discography, audio and readers' comments


‘Dos lágrimas’ is really exciting live

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The key to this encounter is that to take the bolero to flamenco, you haven’t used rhythms, as is usual, but rather echo, vocals...

Diego el Cigala (Photo Daniel Muñoz)

I didn’t want that. If I want that, I sit down and make a flamenco album on which I have to sing por soleá, por seguiriyas, por alegrías, like the next album is going to be. What I did want to do was to give flamenco flavor to the vocals, those quejíos and those turns, but respecting the bolero. It’s not just because, but rather because you have to sing a bolero with the same tragedy as you sing with por soleá. You have to have the same feeling. And it has to be very nice, from the lyrics to the melody. And I put myself in the shoes of a flamenco when I’m singing bolero, I don’t put myself in the shoes of a bolero singer. Of what I am. But I’m going to respect the rules of the bolero; the melody, the time, but being Cigala... who is a flamenco cantaor.

There are people who say that Cigala has gone to the bolero. No sir, I’m a flamenco by the grace of God and I live with flamenco from when I get up until I go to bed. I’m not just a flamenco when I’m up on stage. It’s a way of life. And I think that way all day long. I think that’s what has pushed this project. It’s taken us four and a half years to make ‘Dos lágrimas’ and if it’d had to take eight years, I wouldn’t have minded. But I thought it was the time and the place.

When I made ‘Lágrimas negras’ I didn’t know what a danzón was, I didn’t know what a clave was, what a guaguancó was, I didn’t know what a chachachá was. I did it all by intuition. As Bebo used to say (he imitates his accent): “Sing like the gypsy you are, and I’ll play like the Cuban I am”. We let ourselves go with the flow of that intuition. But today, I now know how a clave goes... Since you already know it, you already play with it, since you know where a danzón is, where a chachachá is. What we do is measure it in the time of tangos. Sabú always takes it to that time when he’s on box drum. And it’s the little detail which provides a contrast. Jumitus is playing the piano and he often stresses por tangos with melodies from there, from the other side of the water.

The live show has been rolling since last summer, hasn’t it?

Yeah, and what I like most about it is that if you like the album, you’ll like the live show more, which is where I really let loose. The other day, we were at the Palau de la Música in Barcelona. The headline was: “Cigala wins two ears” (as in bullfighting). But not like José Tomás; me without blood, just with sweat. Ha ha ha. Coming out the other day at the Palau de la Música, doing a concert lasting two hours and twenty minutes, selling the group at the back, which has never been sold... and not singing a single song off ‘Lágrimas negras’, was great. Not one. People ate up ‘Dos lágrimas’ and then I spent forty minutes singing with a solo guitar. The thing is I also want to show that to people. The entire group at the back, Diego del Morao here. And now I’m going to sing por soleá, por fandango, por bulerías... People perceive the real Cigala. There are people who are really nice and when you’re up on stage they shout to you: “Diego, I want to hear you sing por bulerías!”. And there I go.

Diego el Cigala, 'Dos lágrimas' in concert (Photo Daniel Muñoz)

We really took a risk that day because it was a presentation of ‘Dos lágrimas’ in Barcelona, the place was jam-packed in anticipation... But it’s really great that you can sing ‘Dos lágrimas’ and then you can stick to what you like the most and want to do most, which is to sing with a guitar. And how that man played, amazing! What a pity that shortly he’s going to be playing solo. ‘Dos lágrimas’ is really exciting live. You listen to the album and say that it’s really well-recorded, but the same repertoire appears live but it’s not the same. Jumitus is there on piano live, Diego joins the “you’re no longer at my side, love”, sketching things here and there. And then the mark of inspiration comes. And the thing is that they’re all musicians of live shows, of inspiration. Jumitus never plays a note for you the same way twice, although he respects the melody where it comes from. And I never sing the same way twice. I’d like to, but I don’t know how.

‘Dos lágrimas’ has been launched exclusively with a newspaper, with self-production and doing without the great industry. How does this change affect your career?

I’m really glad this wager is with the daily newspaper ‘El País’ because I think it’s a way to change the record industry, to open up a monopoly to other fields. Young people don’t have twenty euros for a record and if they do, there are other priorities. An album like the one which has been released with seventy-three pages, Juan Cruz’s interview, a dedication by Paco de Lucía, Calamaro, with photos... a deluxe album for ten euros seems to me like a way to avoid piracy. And it could have been done years ago. If the decision we’ve made had been made time ago by the record companies, it wouldn’t have reached the point where it is now. It also means me being free; in my art and in my hunger, I’m in charge. And anyone coming up behind can get moving!

María de la O and flamenco copla

“The hardest song for me to do on the album, ladies and gentlemen, is called ‘María de la O’. I didn’t know how to do it... so many versions of it have been done. Moreover, we had to sing the lyrics from third person, not sing them like María de la O or from second person. It had to be arranged. Everyone told me to throw in the towel. I said no. We looked at it with rhythm, without rhythm, ad libitum, we didn’t know any more. And one day at four o’clock in the morning, I got it. I reached the point where I hated María de la O. Mania de la O! I got to the studio and I went aaaahhhh... “Oh, this sounds so bad. I’m leaving”. The technicians, the people there would say: “Diego, try it a little bit”. But I couldn’t. Work on something else, percussion, basses... whatever you want. Until one night that magic came to me. Moreover, what I like is that magic comes out when nobody sees it, when you’re there alone with a technician. And I told him: “Don’t give an opinion, don’t say anything, I don’t want an olé, I don’t want anything. Rec-play. Play-rec. Let’s record”. I did a couple of takes and I kept the first one. This was the challenge of the album. Besides, how long has it been since a copla’s been heard in a man’s voice? Since Miguel de Molina. The copla has been sung by the greats, Concha Márquez Piquer, Lola Sevilla, Juanita Reina, all those geniuses. But there’s nobody singing ‘Dos cruces’ in a man’s voice today. The couplet has been lost, except for the copla greats. It’s been forgotten as a style not a little, but rather quite a bit. Since I saw it as flamenco, I wanted to do a version of ‘Dos cruces’ which sounded flamenco. What I want is for the reviews of ‘Dos lágrimas’ to say: “It’s Cigala-style”.

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More information

Special Feature. Diego el Cigala, ‘Dos lágrimas’. Veranos de la Villa 2007
Review and photos

Interview with Diego el Cigala, cantaor (September 2005)

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