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.
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!
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”.