Interview with Niña
"Nobody's my boss, not at the record
company, not anywhere. My boss is the audience"
Silvia Calado Olivo. Madrid, April, 2002
Sitting on a flight case from the studio, blowing bubbles with her gum, wearing
a purple leather parka, striped ribbon in her hair and hot pink shoes, she could
pass for any exotic outsider. When the gum is gone and the tangle of microphones
and wires begins to make sense, the would-be exotic approaches the mike and without
changing pose, lets her voice flow: "Las primeras gotas, llegaba el invierno
y eran testigos de aquel primer beso" ['the first drops, when winter came
they witnessed our first kiss']. María transforms into Niña Pastori.
And she dresses the notes in honey and velvet. She raises the intensity to tell
us she's in love, precisely with the guy sitting across from her who's managing
congas, bongos, cajones
Chaboli. And she feels fulfilled. Together they have
fashioned 'María', a product full of feeling, personality and maturity
which has already been enthusiastically received by the market. This, that and
the other thing, but above all, flamenco
because her singing doesn't pull
the wool over anyone's eyes, because it cannot, does not deny it's flamenco identity.
And the moment will come to peel away the trappings and she will be left alone
with only the music which, like the singer herself, charms and enchants.
Niña Pastori (Photo: Daniel Muñoz)
'María'... Your new record is named after you. Does this mean it
has a more personalized approach than the others?
I like to title recordings according to what they contain. And to be able to
express with just a few words the kind of record it is. 'María' is very
much my own record, very personal, very close to my heart
Chaboli is the
producer, my mother also participates and, well, there are more songs of my own
than on any previous record. It's a record where my heart and soul are right there.
Also I thought this was the right name because you've got both people: there's
Niña Pastori who sings, and María who is the person who has struggled
to make the repertoire, and to get good sound, good musicians, in other words,
to achieve the final result. 'María' was the appropriate title for this
record, there wasn't any other.
The unanynymous commentary is that it's a more mature record
It's understandable that it's a more mature recording. I began very young,
I made my first record when I was seventeen. And also I think I'm a performer
whose growth is particularly noticed because the entire country is watching me
grow up. My voice has changed in recent years, and my way of feeling the music
is much more mature. It's only logical that everything has matured.
The name María Rosa García figures as composer of nearly all
the songs. How do you manage this facet?
I've always used other people's songs because I began very young, although
I think I tend to put my own stamp on them and people quickly forget who composed
them. It becomes a Niña Pastori song. I believe that with Chaboli it was
much easier because he composes, he plays several instruments
not me, I don't
play anything. We start fooling around with the guitar, we develop things and
it's much easier. And the fact is I love it, because whether it's expressing your
own experiences or things you want to tell about, even if it's about other people
or imaginary, or when you're performing, people can tell it's your own.
What inspires you when you compose?
The truth is there's a lot of love, because Chaboli and me have a very good
personal relationship. We really get along well and we have a lot going. He's
the most important person I have by my side at the moment, and I think the feeling
is mutual. We've found a lot of support, because besides being enamoured of him,
I really love him very much as a person, he's my best friend, I tell him everything,
and if there's any kind of problem, he's the first one to find out. That also
shows on the record, and in the lyrics, whether you want to or not, you have to
talk about the person you love.
Chaboli (Photo: Daniel Muñoz)
In other words, the duo Niña Pastori-Chaboli works in the musical
Well, at least I think so. And the proof is, that it has worked. I'm satisfied
because I believe that our boss is the audience. Nobody's my boss, not at the
record company, not anywhere. Our boss is the audience and they're the ones who
really say if this is something worthwhile, or if they don't like it
can invest as much as you want, and do whatever you like. I think it's incredible
how well people have received what we really like doing and something we really
identify with. I think that when an artist is really feeling what they're doing,
even if they sing a really bad verse or a very ugly melody, they're going to communicate
all the same, because that's how they're feeling it. I think there's a shortage
of purity and feeling, artists who let themselves get carried away by their emotions
instead of fashion, or what sells. I wonder what 'commercial' really means anyway.
Nobody knows what's commercial. There are plenty of people who make commerical
records, and they get nowhere. Just like there might be records that aren't commercial
at all, and all of a sudden people take to them. I think right now there's a shortage
of originality and an atmosphere where each individual can do what they really
The scene is really bad. There are a lot of imitations, and people just want
to copy whatever's been successful and done well. I think that's a mistake because
we're killing the music. I fought from beginning to end to make the record I really
wanted to make. And I didn't care. I think I've always had a well-defined style.
I believe that any artist who's born with a personality of their own, no matter
what they sing, you're going to recognize them by their voice or their way of
expressing themselves. Fortunately my mother gave me that when I was born, but
I really struggled on this record to find something different and to do what we
wanted to do. We don't care if Paulina Rubio or anyone else is fashionable now.
"I really struggled on this record to find something different
and to do what we wanted to do. We don't care if Paulina Rubio or anyone else
is fashionable now."
The record has a little rap, a few Latino touches
what styles do really
feel most at home with?
Latino stuff the least, although there are a few things. What I most identify
with is a little in the style of what groups like Triana or Alameda have been
doing for a long time, earthy pop-rock ballads with Andalusian sounds. And of
course my flamenco voice. I'm never going to be able to deny that flamenco is
what I like, and I don't want to deny it either.
How important is flamenco in Niña Pastori's career?
Flamenco is my life. Flamenco is the music I like best and I think and believe
that it's the music I'm always going to like, more than any other. I like all
art, but flamenco is, out of all the different kinds of music there are, the one
I like best. I really like flamenco guitar, I really like flamenco dance. I think
flamenco is incredible and I like it more and more every day. Although I don't
think flamenco is going through a good moment right now. Pure traditional flamenco
no. Flamenco is always going to be limited to a certain minority audience. And
I don't think that a flamenco singer who makes a very pure record is going to
sell a million copies, the way any other singer might. The flamenco we young people
are doing, flamenco fusion and other kinds of music is, on the other hand doing
very well now. And nowadays the recording companies don't want you unless you
do a "rumbita" like they call it. You have to do what you want, but
always a couple of rumbitas. Times are good for that now, but not for flamenco.