Flamenco was a closed world, especially during the period of time when I learned it, in the 70s. To enter a peña, a circle of amateurs, you had to take an exam. You were asked: Do you know this or that solea? And if you did not know it, you were rejected, you were not admitted. All this went away in the 80s, when flamenco became available in record stores.
Juan (Flamenco specialist)
I spend around 10 hours a day listening to flamenco. When I go out in the evening, I still listen to it, I stay in the same ambiance. I try not to leave it, not to get distracted.
Eduardo (Record salesman)
Anyways, flamenco artists have always been tough, hard to influence. Today you can find a flamenco musician who is a perfect bureaucrat, yet as soon as he leaves his workplace, he becomes flamenco again. An inalienable being.
Joaquin (Director of the « Amor de Dios » academy)
There is no specific hour for flamenco. It is not a music for the night, at night you might be tired sometimes. But if you hear Camaron in the morning sunshine, you see God.
Truly, it was love at first sight, a Christmas evening at my place. I was alone, without my children, without anyone. I was bored, so I turned on the television. Suddenly I saw a singer I did not know at all. It happened to be Cameron. My reaction was so strong, I was so touched, that from then on all I wanted was listen to flamenco, listen to Cameron.
Flamenco has not really changed at all. There are 15 years old kids who sing siguiryas by Manel Torres, there are 10 years old kids who sing Camaron, and some sing old fandangos who are 8 or 9 years old. I don’t think that it has changed much. There are young people who want to change things a bit. But in the end, flamenco will never change.
To take a classical cante and record it with today’s means and a young voice is for me a way to create. Today my work consists in finding musical treasures that are usually recorded by masterful old singers, and try to harmonize them in a more attractive way so as to touch those who have never listened to flamenco. But I still identify myself with the classical cante.
One has to arrive on time, sing regardless of whatever is going on, make people dance, know how to travel alone… Many things have been sung. A singer today has to perfectly know the classics because he needs them for dance. He must know the rhythms and the cante, but he also must be able to sing any tune, remember the motions. One can no longer improvise dances, many people have choreographies, have done research and developed their moves, and the singer should be aware of all that.
Rafael Jimenez (Falo) Cantaor
The success of flamenco is absolutely justified. What surprises me it that it took so long to happen, because it is a very passionate music, one that is alive, and therefore fits well young people. I am surprised success took so long to happen.
What is beautiful is that today people speak of « fusion ». Flamenco is totally open to all inventions, all forms of sharing. It has majesty and personality.
The echoes of the past are within me. They come from no one in particular. The way to express pain, the way people felt in those days was so pure, so full, so peerless, so imperfect, so perfect, that we have moved quite far away from it nowadays. Nowadays we make things prettier, more elaborate.
Diego Carrasco (cantaor)
Life has changed. One has to adapt and feel and sing flamenco as it is lived today. If we sang flamenco like in the 19th century, it would be silly. We do not eat or dress today like in the previous century.
Juan (flamenco specialist)
Young people are wrong. They all want to record a flamenco record, but most of them cannot do it because they do not know flamenco. They ignore where Ketama comes from. They think Ketama was born overnight. They are not aware that he was born on the flamenco scene. We have played with the stars and with the others, the great artists that nobody knew.
It is clear that evolution today will create visible differences between us and our children… If in twenty years a cantaor sings a siguiriya with a crest on his head, people will say: “My man, we were all like that…” But if they continue to listen to Marchena and Camaron and the elders, it is fine with me if they continue to innovate. The roots of flamenco must not be forgotten
We suffered for a while, we wanted to make records and it was very difficult. We wanted to give concerts and we were not allowed. There was no demand for this kind of music. Now we enjoy the boon. It is the opposite. Everybody wants to be flamenco, have a fiesta, and befriend the flamencos and the gypsies. One hopes that this is not only a fad, like bell-bottom pants. One hopes that people become aware that flamenco and the gypsies belong to a culture that is more than a fad. It is a culture with heart and soul. We should give it the respect it deserves.
The roots of Ketama are our roots. They were inspired by my brother Juan and me, and now they found their way. The music is interesting to me, it is quality music. All three are able to play a solea or a buleria. It is important to master that, and besides, it is beautiful.
Pepe Habichuela (Tocaor)
Everything changes all the time but everything remains the same. Flamenco too. It is like a river that remains the same, but the water is never the same water.
José Luis (Illustrator).
I have never repeated myself. I have always improvised based on whom I met. If you sing, I will dance! I express feelings, any way I can. If you dance in the street, you have to show you are someone… The feeling, the purity… Flamenco dance has always expressed a pain.
El Farruco (bailaor)
I do not approve the way flamenco dancers dress nowadays because I am thinking of how flamenco used to be. Dancers dressed then with elegance, in beautiful clothes… Oh well, to each his style…
Nowadays, dancers are like athletes, they have to train. Flamenco is no longer what it used to be, feasting and wine… Things have changed a lot… My dancers have to wake up early, start at ten in the morning for six to eight hours a day… And to be an artist, not only a dancer – for a dancer must also be an artist – to be a dancer artist, you must have a lifestyle different from that of 17, 18 or 19 year olds.
Antonio Canales (Dancer - choreographer)
Everything will happen in time. Musicians are doing very serious work. For example in cante there is Enrique Morente who is doing very serious work, and then he adds different instruments, choirs, and mixes in some jazz, fusion. It is still flamenco. It is different but it is still flamenco.
Many things have been lost, and many more disappear. Such is life. But already in the [19th] century people said that flamenco was coming to an end. Yet after that there was la Niña de los Peines, Pepe Marchena, Camaron de la Isla, Paco de Lucia… Montoya ! Was that not enough? May be Carmen Amaya did not know how to dance?
Enrique Morente (Cantaor)
People think that we, today’s cantaores, are not human beings. As if we were hairy trees… We are not strange critters you have to study with a magnifying lens. We are human beings like the others, with daily habits.
Flamenco today is in today’s world. You cannot ask a kid to play the flamenco of a hundred years ago. We do not even now how that sounded like!
Enrique Morente (Cantaor)
The cante is more than a guitar and all the rest; it must be a gift, a talent. You cannot learn a voice by taking singing lessons. You either have it or you don’t.
I have no other way than to be spontaneous, do what my artist friends propose, to the extent that I feel like it. I do not have a roadmap, I do not know where I am going, The only way I know is that of the ‘cante jondo’. From there, I do what I know to do. I am just careful that my work always stay in the perspective of ‘cante flamenco’.
Enrique Morente (Cantaor)
Flamenco, if those who are not gypsies do not understand it, if they do not have that sensibility, is totally useless.
Flamenco is a magnificent music. Despite its remote origins, it was only during the [19th] century that really took its final shape, in Andalusia, within a marginal community where Christians Muslims and Jews coexisted with Gypsies in perfect harmony. You can find the true source of flamenco within these cultural differences. Its main impetus was the artistic and very individual spirit of each member of that marginalized community.
Flamenco is always a first person narrative of a true life story. In the middle of the romantic period, the Andalusian songs and dances took flight and became a genuine form of public rejoicing.
The arrival in Spain of a large number of travelers from England, France and Italy, who were willing to understand better the essence of Andalusian art gave flamenco its letters of nobility. It raised it to the statute of a professional art, one that stands alone. Flamenco is an art that surprises by its authenticity, its musical and literary richness. It is an art with a universal appeal.
Francisco Rabal (Actor)