It’s been 25 years since the Gipsy Kings came out with their distinctive blend of traditional Flamenco, Latin, Rock, Jazz and other genres. The band members are truly master musicians who create a sonic fabric that has helped them win platinum and gold recordings and world-wide recognition.
The Los Angeles Beat caught up with Tonino Baliardo, lead guitarist, co-producer and writer of the band, to get some insights on their 25 year plus journey and their new album “Sabor Flamenco.”
Congrats on the new album and 25th anniversary tour! What’s the secret of the band’s longevity?
Thank you. Our longevity is that we enjoy what we do. We do not know much else, but the joy and great feeling we get [from] writing, playing, and performing our music is such a great [way to] appreciate what we have.
Our fans make us realize that every time we step out in front of them.
What’s different about the new “Sabor Flamenco” album? What did the band get out of self-producing?
You hit it on the head. We got the chance to do everything this time. We have never had that opportunity before. We wrote the songs, played the music, produced the sound and decided on the instruments and arrangements. That simply does not happen all the time and for us, until now, it hadn’t happened before. Winning the Grammy really gave us a liberating feeling and made us proud to accomplish this. It was settling for us.
There seem to be a lot of samba textures on the new album on tracks like “Samba Samba” and “Tiemp Del Sol.” How did these songs come about? Was the band soaking up any particular genres while traveling or listening to specific artists?
These rhythms have always been in our ancestors’ music and has been given to us. We have picked up these rhythms over the course of our career and played with them.
While known for fiery and vibrant numbers, the band seems to also handle slower numbers like “Fairies Melody” and jazzy landscapes of “Tiempo Del Sol” with great precision. How were these songs written?
When making an album you have to consider the peaks and valleys of a project. You cannot have a record start at one point and take it to the moon. You need to have a rhythm and sometimes it is great to slow it down to a burn. I write the music and Nicolas writes the lyrics. However, we are both involved with the process and sometimes finish each other’s stories. The rest of the band adds in what they know and what they think is needed.
Why title the album after the song “Sabor Flamenco”? What makes this song so special?
In all honesty it just sounded right to us. We have no big meaning in the title. We love the song. We love the record, and we love playing it and ultimately we loved the title.
How often does the band visit Los Angeles? Any favorite places or things about LA?
We have played in LA for 25 years straight. We hold the highest ticket sales at the Greek Theatre’s history because of our never-ending run there. The great songwriter Randy Newman said it best: “We love LA!!!” We like the beaches, Hollywood, West LA, Downtown. Pink’s Hot Dogs, on LA Brea, rocks!! It has the ingredients in the hot dogs and the people. It’s great! LA is one big mixing bowl with every fabulous ingredient known to mankind.
Gypsy Kings celebrate their 25th anniversary and return to perform at the Greek Theatre this Saturday, January 30th. For tickets visit the Greek Theater.