Arcángel

Pushing the limits of Flamenco

Arcángel. Pushing the limits of Flamenco.

When did your passion for flamenco begin?

I started very early, when I was very young. Admittedly, in a context that had nothing to do with flamenco. There were no flamenco fans in my family. It was very fortuitous, I just felt incredibly drawn to it. I didn’t think about anything else, I just gave in to what I loved.

Singing happened naturally for you then?

I think that when you’re that young, it’s impossible to plan a career; you just let yourself get swept along by the things you like. You reach a point along the way when it’s easier to continue than to turn around – when you realise the years have gone by and you’ve made it. Once you’re in that place, you have no other choice but to continue doing it as well as you can.

Who are your idols in flamenco singing and music?

I couldn’t name one individual, because I like so many, both from the old school and the modern style. I try to have an open mind about what flamenco is, and music in general, so that I don’t get stuck in one particular trend. From that point of view, I try to listen to very disparate things.

You are one of the flamenco singers who is at the vanguard of flamenco. Where did that desire arise to forge new paths in flamenco singing?

A long time ago I decided to focus on entertainment. There comes a time when you have to find a balance between the pressure of an artistic career and your desire to do something specific. You always have to maintain a balance in order to satisfy both aspects: what people expect from you and what you want to do. A long time ago I made the decision to enjoy what I do and to do what I enjoy. That’s a desire you have inside you, to do something satisfying. The traditional and the modern co-exist within me, and I look for the point at which they meet, because I believe they complement each other.

There comes a time when you have to find a balance between the pressure of an artistic career and your desire to do something specific.

Arcangel.Pushing the Limits of Flamenco
Arcangel.Pushing the Limits of Flamenco

Do you feel a need to take risks with your art?

The risk is becoming inactive, without paying attention to what really moves me. That’s more risky than doing what I love.

Is there a formula for successfully combining the traditional with the contemporary?

The main thing is to remain faithful to what you feel. You have to realise that there are consequences to going against the mainstream or disagreeing with the community. That’s a situation I accept. When you open yourself up to judgment you’ll get every possible opinion. What I don’t tolerate is a lack of respect for someone’s work, and the person behind it.

Up to what point can you break the rules in flamenco?

That’s a tricky subject, because there’s no strict line you can cross. I don’t think anyone should impose a line or a wall, and certainly not avoid crossing it. What I don’t agree with is wanting to be something you’re not. Artistically speaking, each individual can go wherever they like. Having said that, if we want to work within a genre we should follow certain coordinates that represent it, otherwise it isn’t the same thing.

How do you tackle a new creative project?

With a lot of excitement, because I like that phase more than when it’s finished. I enjoy the creative process more.

Flamenco doesn’t require any justifications. There’s no need for so many explanations – you should only need to say “This is my proposal.”

How do you develop collaborations with the other great artists you work with?

Collaborations arise after you’ve found the willpower to enter into a dialogue, so you don’t get stuck in a rut. That’s the moment when the connection blossoms, and a natural conversation begins between two forms of music that previously had nothing in common. The musicians create the musical dialogue; the genres cannot enter into a dialogue because they have established structures. It’s all about willpower.

Are these collaborative projects vital for new flamenco proposals?

Flamenco doesn’t require any justifications. There’s no need for so many explanations – you should only need to say “This is my proposal.” When I’m asked for justification, I’m not interested anymore, not because I think it loses artistic value – I believe in the work and in identifying a concept – but I don’t question it so much when I’m doing it.

Is this a good moment for flamenco?

I think this is the best time for flamenco. It now has a presence in festivals and spaces where it had never been seen before, I mean in a commercial sense. The artistic side of things is another matter – I think more can be done, especially in institutions where I think more needs to be done to pass it on to the younger generations and other audiences.

Where is your career currently headed?

Right now I’m immersed in the record I’ve just made – Al Este del Cante – although I’ve always got ideas floating around in my head. I’m promoting this record, which I’m quite proud of and which won a Grammy.

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