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guitarist withDuo Alhambra
Where are you from?
From Birmingham, originally, then London. I've been in Brighton some9 years, I think.
How did you start playing flamenco?
I was a classical player for a long time, and I had a teacher in Londo who was teaching me classical but really his first instrument (because it's a separate instrument, I think) was flamenco guitar. He'd been teaching me classical for a year or so, than I heard him play flamenco and very soon after that I heard a recording by Sabicas, and I though "That's what I'd like to do". Sabicas is my inspiration, if you like.
What was it that grabbed you?
I think, from playing classical for so long, the freedom of it. You have to stay "in compas", which is staying in time, but at the same time you can go in any direction. You can improvise a lot more in flamenco. In classical music you have a set piece that you learn, and that's the end of it, whereas learning a new compas or torques in flamenco is just the beginning and then it's up to you to develop that.
How does that work when you're playing with other people?
You have to reach a certain level where you feel you can improvise. It very much depends on who you're playing with. When I play with Tony, I feel there's a lot of room for improvisation.
Do people find it strange that you play Spanish music?
I don't think it's strange, but I think sometimes it's difficult. People who are very into flamenco may disregard you as a player when they know you're English. Aficionados can have that attitude. However, having been in Spain several time and played there, that's not true of people in Spain. People a really very pleased that you're interested, that you play, and they really want you to play.
guitarist with Duo Alhambra
Where are you from?
How did you get into flamenco?
I went out to Spain about ten years ago and lived in Barcelona. I started having flamenco lessons there, but I played guitar as a second instrument for quite a few years before that, so I did have some grounding.
What is it about flamenco guitar that has captured your imagination?
I used to be a drummer and one of the things I love about flamenco is the percussive quality. The rhythms aren't straightforward - it uses a interesting time signatures. A lot of the tunes are based around twelve beats to the bar, which is very unusual in normal western music. And also it involves a lot of bizarre guitar techniques, which you don't find in classical guitar playing.
Tell me about Club Caracol.
It's just like a typical Spanish flamenco night, but it's mainly English people. It's a night for local people who are interested in flamenco - dancers, singers, musicians, dance students.
Why do Brighton people come to a flamenco club?
A lot of people come because they're learning flamenco dance. There are two or three local flamenco dance teachers, so a lot of their students will be there to practice what they've learned in their classes. But I think that flamenco is a kind of mysterious music that people are interested in. And just the fact that there's something like this happening in Brighton - people want to see what it's like.
GO TO INTERVIEW WITH ANNA LEON, THE DANCER