Interview: Rafael Manjavacas
We're speaking with David Carpio, flamenco singer from Jerez, to present his first recording titled “Mi Verdad”, recorded live at the Festival de Jerez, February 24th, 2013.
On May 16th the singer will appear at the Sala García Lorca en Madrid with Manuel Valencia on guitar, and Carlos Grilo and Chícharo on palmas. See agenda
From Jerez, from the Mijita family?
From the Carpios let’s just say, Mijita is my father’s cousin who sang a bit, but the family is Carpio, although my brother is known as Mijita, and my cousin too…but the Carpio family, from the Plazuela, San Miguel neighborhood, we’re also related to the Montoyas, Chocolate’s family, la Negra, the Farrucos…
Jerez has some good young people…
Yes, a new generation is cultivating a different kind of flamenco, and many of us younger singers are defending classic cante, which is what we like.
You can’t learn flamenco in a school…
The school of life, each one’s experiences…maybe just being from Jerez we live it a different way.
Flamenco DNA exists, but it also takes a lot of study.
Of course, in my case there’s DNA, I lived in the environment and continue to do so. But no one is born with that knowledge, not even the greatest artists, those phenomenal people like Camarón or Paco de Lucía, who spent his childhood studying guitar.
How old are you, how long have you been singing?
I’m 38, my first professional income was when I was 15, with the Chavalillos de España of Laurén Postigo, along with Pastora Soler, on programs of Quintero, Andrés Caparrós…
Professionally, the best outlet is singing for dance, at least in the beginning.
Yes, singing for dance, not “atrás” as they call it. You’re either a singer or not, makes no difference “up front” or “in the back”. Singing for dance gives you security and you get into cantes you normally wouldn’t handle on your own, especially where I come from. I try not to be type-cast and offer a part of the great diversity of flamenco.
You also participate in Gerardo Núñez’ concerts.
I’m very fortunate to be with that maestro, every day I learn with him. Although he’s not physically present on this record, he has a presence, and I acknowledge that on the recording, I am grateful to Gerardo who has his office open for me 24 hours a day to give of his knowledge and advice.
Singing for dance is an obligatory step.
I’m very pround of having gone through that, any decent flamenco follower knows you have to get that under your belt…just look back…Antonio Mairena, El Serna, Fernando Terremoto…they all sang for dance, it gives you self-confidence and discipline that you just can’t get from singing alone.
Whose dancing are you singing for now?
With Andrés Peña, Manuel Liñán, Mercedes Ruíz, Belén Maya, with Carmen Cortés of course, with anyone who calls, I’m ready. Thank God I’m never short of work.
To sing on your own you need a recording.
It was absolutely necessary, until you make a record no one knows you. I’m grateful to Fernando of Karonte for believing in me to make this dream a reality. It’s been very good for me. Then you have to promote it as best you can. Until you make a record it’s like you haven’t done anything.
Why a live recording?
I started recording in a studio with David Lagos, along with Manuel Valencia…to record a soleá we’d be two or three hours and it was impossible, we were far apart, like in a fishbowl, I just didn’t see it, I needed to have the guitarist by my side. Then, you have to repeat a verse twenty times…I didn’t want to make a record like that. In Jerez they gave me the prize for best “back-up singer” (cantaor para atrás) like they call it, and I wanted to record as soon as possible. I received the recording Canal Sur made of our recital at the Palacio de Villavicencio, and that was the real me, I listened to it over and over, and realized that was what I wanted. That was what I wanted for my first record. When I get to the second one, then I’ll get into the studio.
The order of the pieces is the same as in live performance, opening with pregones as on the recording.
I like to confront the audience head-on, laying out my singing just like that, without guitar, I like to begin with pregones, with an assortment of old styles.
Then the soleá…
Yes, “La Mare de Todos” I call it, because it is the heart of everything, and I consider the soleá the mother of all flamenco singing.
I wanted to do something a little different, so I chose the malagueñas of Diego el Perote and Concha la Peñaranda.
And the alegrías, “El Aire que Respiro”…
“El Aire que Respiro” is for my son, this was a recital, but then the titles were just right, it’s cantiñas of Pinini, alegrías of Aurelio Sellés…from around the bay.
La taranta dedicated to you grandfather…
Yes, Antonio Carpio Montoya, cousin of Chocolate, a singer who for me was one of the greatest for tarantos, and I refer to him in this cante where I also sing a verse of my own.
“Ausencias”, the seguiriyas…
The title means “absences”, people who are missing in my life. To sing siguiriyas I understand and have found it to be true, you have to sing with this kind of dark pain, and this is how I did it, and believe me, it’s different.
The absence of Moraíto, Torta, Paco…
In Jerez and the whole world they have left a tremendous emptiness, these were people, geniuses, but also simple straightforward people who managed to communicate with all people, and flamenco has this unbearable void now.
Morao accompanied you for a recital at the Festival de Jerez.
In 2011 Morao did his last recital with me. I wish with all my heart it hadn’t been the last, God only knows…people said “that’s something you have now for the rest of your life”. But I wish I were going to do a recital with him tomorrow. Of course the record is dedicated to him, in the bulerías there are some verses I wrote for him, “Por Siempre Morao”.
Do you live in Jerez?
Yes, I live in Jerez, always going to Seville, Madrid and the rest of the rest, but I don’t like flying, I wish there were bridges everywhere, this is my profession and I have to travel round the world so people can know this art of ours.
Now you’re going to be in Madrid at the Sala García Lorca on May 16, without amplification, just like the recital that produced the recording.
I like feeling the rush of communicating directly with the audience, I only hope I have a good night…I really want to do a good job in Madrid which is such an important venue. In this series of great artists whom I respect and admire, I wish to thank Antonio Benamargo for believing in me and giving me this opportunity which I hope to make the most of.
David Carpio & Gerardo Núñez
David Carpio – Mi verdad