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Flamenco Forward

So are they in the 1960s mould of collectives: it's a style of working that's been out of fashion in the materialist 80s and 90s? Ramón speaks: "We feel the collective is the best foundation for working. We are not a conventional group; we're all friends and have emotional links as well as musical ones, which is important in terms of functioning together. There's no leader and we try not to impose anything. We're all important and have space to express our selves, and we try and express ourselves as a collectivity. That's the sound you get."

Ojos De Brujo
The song Tiempo de soleá (Lamenting Times) expresses their politics, no? Marina: "It's dedicated to all the street kids. Where we live in the old town there are little kids, many from the Magreb, often with a bag of glue keeping them going. It's a reality we meet every day and so we wrote that song about it, a lament for the moment in which we are living now. It's a soleá because that's a strong flamenco form for expressing those emotions. It's a main song of the disc. Musically it's very urban flamenco with contemporary hip-hop."

How do they compose? Panko: "Pieces evolve when we are all working together. We have an idea and we all add to it. Later we record ourselves and listen, like when we are driving in the van, and discuss what might be possible and everyone brings their own ideas and colour and it grows. It's not that each person has to search for their space, it's more that creating it is how that space happens. The DJ can be like a musical mattress to work against; or a percussion instrument; or a scratch rhythm; or using a sampler to respond to the lyrics." Ramón: "There are many different conversations within the mix, between guitar and percussion, percussion and scratch, with the bass, and everyone together and with the voice. They are all voices at one level."

This feature first appeared in fRoots 237, March 2003


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