A rumba flamenco-style band originating in Arles and Montpellier in the south of France, globally praised ensemble, Gipsy Kings, will be performing across America into the fall. This band of relatives, whose ancestry stems from Catalonia, have blended the best qualities of both regions to formulate an unmistakable musical presence. In the beginning, the group played small events throughout France, eventually reaching the ears of Europe as well as its bordering continents with their debut self-titled full-length, Gipsy Kings. It was the content of this album with classics like “Djobi Djoba” and “Bambaleo” that the outfit gained a following in the States. The band has also produced covers of other renowned songs, such as “Hotel California,” that have made them become even more beloved by American fans.
Just last year, Gipsy Kings snagged a Grammy Award for their more recent record, SavorFlamenco. Despite the guys having been playing alongside one another for over 25 years, these musicians continue to impress and indulge the mass music community. Currently doing shows on the American West Coast, songwriter, lead guitarist, and co-producer, Tonino Baliardo, took a few minutes to answer some of my questions. Here following is what the musician had to say:
You are in the middle of a tour that will have you performing in the Tri-State Area in the coming weeks. How does your reception by fans differ overseas as opposed to your fans in America?
Our fans, no matter where, bring a passion to the show. We react off that passion. It is the reason we do what we do. Our fans are the best in the world, as they have been following us for 25-plus years. We are indeed blessed. The Tri-State Area is a place we always like to play; NYC and New Jersey is a special area.
Can listeners expect any new music out of you guys anytime soon?
We are working on an album now and expect to have new music out by next summer. Our process is that we like to work with songs live until we feel we get them to a certain place. Songs change drastically while in this process. We may play some new music while in the Tri-State Area, so be on the lookout.
How do you keep your performance organized with that many musicians on stage at once?
It is always a bit of chaos that is what makes the good stuff. We have the best band in the world and they have all been with us for quite some time. When you have a band like that, along with how long we have been playing, it just kind of comes naturally. We are consistent with our setlist, changing a few songs here or there, but basically we play a similar show each tour.
Although you are obviously very connected to your Spanish roots, do you think that growing up in the south of France influenced your musical style in any way?
Yes, we are very close to our French roots. There are all different influences from where we have traveled in our music, not just in Spain and France. Even in the U.S. we pick up much from jazz and blues and incorporate it in our process. That is one of the reasons we like to travel so much.
Is there a city or venue that you have not yet played yet, but would like to?
Honestly, I am not sure. We have played some many shows all over the world I cannot think of one at this point. We have been so fortunate. Places like Royal Albert Hall, Radio City, Greek Theatre in L.A. and Red Rocks have all been great shows and places. We have played out in Desert Dunes and by Lakes; festivals have all been such great venues to play. I am sure there is more out there.
What artists would you like to collaborate with that you have not already?
Pitbull and Santana are two that we thought would work. A duet with Sade would be fun to.
With Grammy Award wins under your belt, how do you feel about your band making an impact on the music scene globally?
We make records for our fans and try not to think about making an impact. It sure is nice when we do, but we just try and make honest music and try to stay close to our roots and what our forefathers have taught us through time. If we do that, we know our fans will be excited. If they are excited, that is the type of impact we like.
Who are some of your favorite artists at the moment?
We like Pitbull, Carlos Santana, but Paco de Lucia, who just passed away, has always been someone I’ve listened to.
What are your plans for the rest of this year and into the start of 2016?
We will be writing and recording our new project for the next several months. We also want to play a few more dates.
Gipsy Kings are scheduled to play the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ on Sept. 11 and the Beacon Theatre on Sept. 12 in New York, NY. For more info, go to gipsykings.com.