Paco de Lucia

Interview with Master of Flamenco


Name Paco de Lucía is synonym for the art, which only extraordinary persons of their own times can bring. Those persons can absorb all influences from before; give it their own footprints and push respected rules way farther. That is what Paco made with flamenco in 70-ties and 80-ties.
In present time Mr. de Lucía spends his free time with his youngest, four year old son, in his Mexico ranch, or in villa standing in old part of Toledo. In the beginning of 2010 he started world tour with his new group consisted of young musicians. During the tour he invited Bratislava, for second time after 22 years. This interview we made before his concert in March 2010.


Is it possible for musicians from outside (without any Spanish, Andalucian roots) to touch the essence of real flamenco? A musician can be technically and formally skilled, but it’s still not enough and the performance is not far from perfect circus number. Where is that thin line, behind what the ghost of flamenco becomes alive?
Maybe you can compare this with a Christian who becomes a Buddhist. To really understand Flamenco you probably have to eat, drink and live it from your earliest childhood. You can learn the music of course but it is more than that. A feeling, a tradition a way of live that you cannot learn – something you have to experience.

A lot of people perceive you as THE virtuoso and guitar genius. What is behind the easiness, with which you can express your emotions, even technically very difficult way? Probably not “just” practicing...?
Well, a certain gift you have to have. But without practicing, you will not arrive anywhere. Why my music reaches so many people I do not know, but of course I am very happy about that. This is a privilege and maybe it even has to d with the fact that I never learned to read music. I just play what comes out of my heart…

What advice would you give to young adepts of flamenco? What is important next to good technical and formal know-how? What should they not to underrate?
Despite the fact that I do not read a young musician who really wants to become an artist does not have a choice but play and learn as much as possible. My advice would be to be open, to listen to all kinds of music and look for the best things to integrate into your own style.

What means a rhythm to you?
No rhythm – no music. That is a fact. Rhythm in Flamenco has always been one of the two important fundaments. In my music I introduced percussion instruments used in Latin America and in Jazz music. Rhythms build the fundament and a melody makes music come alive, maybe that’s the formula…

How many hours daily play guitar famouse Paco de Lucía in the present time?
That really depends. There are days where I do not practice at all and then I play many hours a day. Especially when I am touring, I play before the concerts several hours.

Where was born your need to play flamenco some other, than traditional way? What motivated you incorporate elements of jazz and classical music in flameco style and use of new instruments flute ,e-bass, cajon, oud, mandola? Why don’t you felt comfortable in traditional flamenco?
Well I had the privilege to travel the world already as a very young man. And I was curious! While travelling I met so many fine artists who opened up my eyes and ears to other instruments, to improvisation to harmonies that were very new to me. And I slowly started to discover a freedom in music that I did not see in the traditional Flamenco. So, I just did it – without a real masterplan, but just trying. Now I know it was very important to bring the tradition into the future, out of frozen structures into the modern world. And today I am very proud to see where the young Flamenco musicians play: in concert houses, in theatres and that worldwide!

Can we look forward for some your next connections and fusions with musicians or orchestras completely outside of flamenco territory?
At this moment I have no pan like this…

A lot of people here familiarized with you and your music due to your work with Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin and your legendary album Friday Night in San Francisco. There are more albums like this, but this one is special. What is behind it? Why is it even so commercial successful?
We were very surprised about the success. Three acoustic guitars, who was interested in that? Well obviously we found the way into the hearts of many people. Apart from all virtuosity, when you listen to the melodies, you can even sing along! I am sure this is the secret behind it. Virtuosity combined with beautiful accessible melodies.

How do you keep pleasure from music after all these years? What needs a musician to save the joy?
I think if you can enjoy live you can enjoy what you do. It is a question of personality. This expresses itself in the music.

Which personalities you consider most inspired you (players, composers, or... - contemporary, from yesteryears or from past)?
Well it began with my father, who taught me to play the guitar, then I had Maestro like any Flamenco beginner, but soon I started to play my own compositions. Then I worked for many years with the great singer Cameron de la Isla who influenced me very much. But most of the changes started when I met these fine artists like Chick Corea and John McLaughlin who opened up the world of Jazz music to me.

Which of your albums do you consider as most important?
Difficult to say… Every period had its own importance and all m y albums represent something of my development. I’d rather let the audience judge that!

What music do you deal with presently? How will appear your performance in Bratislava?
Well this year I am playing with young musicians from Spain and one of them is Cuban, the bass player. His musical background is different and also the harmonica player, they are both educated Jazz musicians. Duquende, one of the singers is considered the “new Cameron” and Farruco (the dancer) is also coming out of a very well known Flamenco family with a long tradition in dance. So you will hear Flamenco music with a lot of influences and a great performance!

How do you see future of flamenco? What directions it will head on? What is new in the genre? Does exist any strong personalities, who indicate possible new ways for flamenco (like you did before)?
I am very proud to see that the tradition of Flamenco music has survived in our world of Pop and Rock. It is even more popular that it ever was. It is respected and loved all over the world and I have the feeling that one of the reasons is that this music is original and touches something in the listener that he has forgotten or that was lost. I really hope that Flamenco will be there forever and maybe some time in the future some young guy will come and again revolutionize it and will modernize it without losing the routes!

Dear Mr.Paco De Lucía, let us thank for your music and time, and wish you good health!

Martin Chrobák, Martin Bies
© Nový Populár 2010