Interview by Rafael Manjavacas
photo: Diana Lapin
Laura de los Ángeles, flamenco pianist, talks about her new recording titled “Mi Nueva Esperanza”.
If the title of the record isn’t enough, when you see the cover, Laura’s inspiration for this new work becomes clear.
It’s been nearly five years since her first work, “El Callejón del Agua”, in which she became known in flamenco through her piano and her music. At DeFlamenco.com we did an interview in which she spoke about how she got into the world of flamenco through Jesús Bola and Manolo Soler among others, and this recording which comes out May 20th, 2014.
How are you Laura?
I’m fine, a little apprehensive perhaps, but with great hopes for the record.
How old is your baby now?
Tell us a little about the process…you made the record after having the baby, but it was in the works during your pregnancy.
When I was expecting my first baby, this new project was also being planned, with all the sensitivity one has in that condition and as an artist, it was the perfect moment to be more relaxed and at home, composing.
When I recovered from the delivery, I spoke with Jesús Bola and we got into the studio for a couple of months to make the record.
Is all the music on the record your own?
It’s almost all mine, with the direction of Jesús Bola, except for “La Violetera” and the medley of Canciones Populares in “Homenaje a Andalucía”, which are popular pieces I adapted myself.
Tell me about the pieces on the record…it opens with guajiras called “Mi Nueva Esperanza”.
A guajira with a very personal touch, it has the feeling of guajira and the main melodies, but everyone who hears it says it has a new, modern feel.
“Mi Abuela Carmen” is alegrías, the chosen piece for the record promotion.
When I spoke with the record company, they said all the pieces are very nice, but this one would attract the most people, a light transparent melody where you can feel the nostalgia, it has the aroma of the Alameda de Hércules, a very flamenco neighborhood of Seville where I was brought up with my grandmother Carmen.
The Vidalita you do with Juan Valderrama.
We did this vidalita with Juan Valderrama in his show “Maestros” with which we toured…the vidalita from that show, I really loved it and spoke to Juan to include it on the record.
And Lorca’s popular songs in “Homenaje a Andalucía” with Jarcha.
I recorded it live, it really went over and I was asked to leave it recorded as is, “Los cuatro muleros”, “Anda jaleo”, “Café de Chinitas”, “Viva Sevilla”…I have it arranged as a medley, and it goes from one theme to the next with the collaboration of the legendary group Jarcha.
A record of piano, but with many guest artists…
Luis el Polaco, we’re great friends, and I often work with him, also Alicia Gil, a friend of mine and a great singer, in the tanguillos I also have the chorus of Julio Pardo and the guitar of Manolito Herrera. Fortunately, I have a great string of musicians collaborating.
I also took the liberty of singing…I’m not a singer, but there are some very personal verses I sing on the record.
Jesús Bola was your reference point, the person who encouraged you to get into this.
Yes, my reference point and producer, working with Jesús Bola is a guarantee of a good results, always.
And Manolo Soler also left his mark on your playing style.
The piano is a very percussive instrument, and the way I play, you can detect the legacy of Manolo Soler, I learned a lot from him. When I start out with bulerías or other rhythmic forms, the percussive technique is noticeable, as if I were playing a cajón.
What was first, the cajón or the piano? We saw a video of yours where you’re playing the cajón with Juanes.
I like both instruments. Juanes liked my work alot and wanted to invite me…no piano was available, but he said no, to go up and play the cajón. As a matter of fact, in some concerts I wind up playing the cajón and people are really surprised.
Such famous artists as Juanes…Latin music, pop…they seem to be a little envious of flamenco…
Juanes is number one, he told me flamenco is a very exotic, difficult form, but he admired it for the feeling it has, the depth, the force…
As far as flamenco piano, where do you find your inspiration?
Fortunately there are more of us all the time, I love the way old piano sounds, also guitar, the flamenco instrument par excellence. I don’t look to anyone in particular, I try to learn from everyone, but creating my own personality. You have to do something different, you can’t copy other people, because they’ll do it better for sure. I don’t like to imitate, I like to pick things up, learn and add my own personality.
Is it hard to do things from the recording in live performance? How do you adapt?
For me it’s not hard, my records are mostly live, and my performances are like the record, it’s no trouble at all. And the concerts I’m doing are in trio format, which is maybe a little more difficult, for flamenco you don’t need so many people.
What is the setting for the concerts?
I adapt to each set of circumstances, to the stage…the trio format is what works best, and it sounds very contemporary, an electric bass, percussion, the piano and my own singing. Sometimes I take two people for palmas, a dancer, a guest artist…
When will we be able to see you?
On June 17 I’ll be in Madrid at Galileo Galilei to present this record, and really looking forward to it. In Sevilla on June 5th at the FNAC, and then in September we’ll be at the Lope de Vega in Seville to open the season.
Laura de los Angeles