An Interview With Paco De Lucia (Reissued )

An interview with Paco de Lucia was the dream of every flamenco guitarist, and that’s what happened to Ofer Ronen, a flamenco guitarist who lived in Israel at the time.

Paco’s concert took place in October 2011 in Tel Aviv and a blog that dealt with world culture
(‘Cafe Gibraltar’ that no longer exists) asked Ofer, who is a Flamenco expert and speaks Spanish as well,
to make an interview with Paco for his arrival.

The interview was not possible on the phone, so he sent Paco selected questions by e-mail.
By the way, in 2015, he had the chance to interview Vicente Amigo on the phone, which also arrived in Israel.

This the interview with Paco De Lucia with the introduction and note of Ofer as he wrote it:

After spending the end of June and early July in cold Canada, Paco de Lucia comes to warm up a bit in the Mediterranean. At the end of October, he arrives in Tel Aviv … a few days before he goes on to northern Europe.
De Lucia will be hosting a single performance at Hangar 11 in Tel Aviv on October 29th at 21:30.

He does not come alone, but with the accompaniment of  his group with which he has appeared in recent years, including the percussionist El Pirena,The bassist Alain Perez, the great singers David de Jacoba and Duquende
(one of the leading singers in Flamenco today, and others who consider him a successor to the great Cameron) , Antonio Sanchez, the nephew of De Lucia, on a second guitar, and even with the dancer Farruquito,
who comes from the famed Gypsy dancers.

From time to time, Paco de Lucia arrives in Israel, and for the last time, he came to the 2007 Tamar Festival.
I remembered, among other things, that he had come down from the stage to file his fingernails a bit because he claimed that they were too long to play, and it made wonder if so he plays with nails too long, how does he play with the right length nails?

The answer was not long in coming.

In recent months I have published two posts here about the Paco de Lucia,
in which I tried to understand his life, his work and his place in Flamenco and music in general,
and now for the performance, we contacted the artist for an interview.

Although out of seven original questions, only four answers arrived, but it is fascinating to see what de Lucia himself thinks and says about the same subjects:

Do you feel that your flamenco work is more meaningful or better than your work in other genres, such as jazz or classical music?
And what is the difference in your work between these styles?

“I have always been and will be a flamenco guitarist, and my initial aspiration has always been the
development of my music, bringing flamenco to the modern world …
My travels in the world of jazz and classical music have been a good and important experience for me
because I have been taught a lot.

I know I should be grateful for my opportunities to work with some of the best musicians,
but I am not a classical guitarist, and my arrangements for classical music came more from the
heart than the music sheets, if you know what I mean, and my collaborations with jazz musicians
demanded a lot from me at first.

In the end, I found my way to play with the jazz musicians, and so I learned a lot,
bringing the tradition of improvisation of jazz into flamenco was something new thirty years ago,
but today everyone is doing it. ”

How do you see your place in the history of flamenco development?

“When I learned to play guitar, flamenco music was very limited by musical rules …
I felt that if nothing changed, it would end up as a museum show …

Because I had the opportunity to travel the world and get to know other musical styles,
I started to use different instruments and harmonies in my music.

Not everyone liked my ideas, but I felt it was necessary, and at the end of the day, if my work helped to bring flamenco to the modern world, I’m happy! ”

Do you consider yourself a “composer”?

“Well, yes, even though I don’t read music
(he studied the work partiture with the help the classical guitarist José María Gallardo)
most of my compositions are based on a melody which I have in mind,
and then I start thinking about rhythms and “falestas” and solo pieces.

Does your flamenco have influences from other styles and cultures that you discover in your work with musicians of different styles and cultures?

“Yes, there are many influences, but I still try to be authentic, when I hear modern pop music
with elements of flamenco, or when I hear flamenco musicians trying to imitate pop music,
it becomes hard for me.
It’s to be true to myself and my music. ”

Ofer’s thoughts after the interview

It’s a special experience to interview your favorite musician and understand what
he thinks about the things you think about.

As I wrote in the past, I agree and think that De Lucia,
like other musicians who don’t write their work in music notation but invent it,
is a composer in every sense of the word, and it was important to me to understand that he, too,
sees himself as such.

As for his response to the effects of his music, he didn’t write about the effects, but only noted that they were many.

I know that this is a difficult question for an artist, what exactly influenced him since it is the experience of a lifetime and the mixing of innumerable details.

It is interesting that he chose to relate to Pop on this question, even though I did not mention it with a question.
He probably meant that there are styles of music that he is not happy to mix with flamenco, and their influence is negative.