Sunday, 18 November 2018 | News today: 7

Gipsy Kings: Music is our passion!

We were scared at the beginning because we were not prepared for all that. We lived in our caravans in the south of France where we made our music in summer in St Tropez among friends on the beach. And overnight we find ourselves propelled into the Billboard, Hollywood Bowl, Royal Albert Hall ... It was amazing!, say Gipsy Kings's Paco and Mickael Baliardo

The „Gipsy Kings“ are a group of flamenco, salsa and pop musicians from Arles and Montpellier in the south of France, who perform in the Spanish language with an Andalusian accent. Although group members were born in France, their parents were mostly gitanos, Berber-Moroccan and Spanish gypsies who fled Catalonia during the 1930s Spanish Civil War. They are known for bringing Catalan rumba, a pop-oriented music distantly derived from traditional flamenco music, to worldwide audiences. The group originally called itself Los Reyes.

Their music has a particular rumba flamenca style, with pop influences; many songs of the Gipsy Kings fit social dances, such as salsa and rumba. Their music has been described as a place where “Spanish flamenco and gypsy rhapsody meet salsa funk”

We asked  Paco and Mickael Baliardo about the excitement of performing, about their music, how they feel when they are on stage, the influence in their music…

Nicolas Reyes says that at the beginning you were scared of facing the world. Now it has become your way of life. How do you feel about standing on stage? Is there still excitement? Do you feel the energy of the audience?

Yes we were scared because we were not prepared for all that. We lived in our caravans in the south of France where we made our music in summer in St Tropez among friends on the beach. And overnight we find ourselves propelled into the Billboard, Hollywood Bowl, Royal Albert Hall … It was amazing!

You are performing in Macedonia as part of your ongoing tour. What are your impressions?

My impressions are always the same, the pleasure of being in contact with people who love our culture and our music.

Have you ever heard of Macedonia?

We attach great importance to the public of the Balkan countries. In May 2017 we returned to Belgrade after 10 years of absence, and had a very warm welcome. You are a wonderful audience and very receptive. And we are looking forward to introducing you to the new show.

They became popular with their self-titled third album, Gipsy Kings, which included the songs “Djobi Djoba”, “Bamboleo”, and the romantic ballad “Un Amor”. „Gipsy Kings“ was popular throughout Europe and in Africa, as well as in the Middle East. Their cover version of “Hotel California” was an example of fast flamenco guitar leads and rhythmic strumming: it was featured in the 1998 Coen Brothers movie The Big Lebowski.

What are going to play at the concert in Skopje? Are there any novelties in your songs?

Yes of course there are several novelties. We keep our biggest hits: Bamboleo, Volare … And the new songs. But in this new show I also wanted to bring a touch of modernity in the interpretation of the songs.

Los Reyes started out as a gypsy band. They traveled around France, playing at weddings, festivals, and in the streets. Because they lived so much like gypsies, the band adopted the name Gipsy Kings. Later, they were hired to add colour to upper-class parties in such places as St. Tropez, but their first two albums attracted little notice. At this point, the Gipsies played traditional flamenco invigorated by Tonino Baliardo’s guitar playing and Nicolas Reyes’ voice.

Your roots are from Spain, but you grew up in France? According to you, which of these two cultures has more influence on your music?

We remain attached to our Catalan roots and Rumba!

The Gipsy King line-up featured a combination of left, and right-handed guitarists; three of the Reyes brothers (Nicolas, Andre’, and Patchai) play guitar left-handed, and play left-hand (and sometimes right-hand) guitars that are strung for right-handers (i.e. with the low “E” string on the bottom), while Diego Baliardo plays a left-handed guitar that is strung for left hand (i.e. with the low “E” string on the top). Together with right-handers Canut and Paul Reyes, and Paco Baliardo, these guitarists focus on delivering the strong underpinning rhythms while the more complex leads are performed by the right-handed and conventionally styled Tonino Baliardo.

Usually your performance includes many musicians on stage. How do you manage to keep everything in perfect order?

By choosing good musicians, tours are a life in community. We live 24/24 together. It’s the family.

In the documentary about the Gipsy Kings, Nicolas says that music is a passion that lasts all these years and that you are going to make music as long as the passion lasts. Does the passion last with the same fervor as in the beginning, or do you notice a change?

Music is our passion but passion evolves that’s why in my new show I wanted to bring a lot of novelties.