Sunday, June 20, 2010


Our blog has gone through a brief silent period for the past couple of weeks but we are glad to be back with a bang: Our friend Mira has agreed to contribute a guest post explaining the attraction that world artists feel for India, sometimes resulting in the welcome collaboration of Indian and world talent. What say about waking up this blog up from its slumber with some gypsy flamenco? :-)  

A gypsy dancing in the streets of Chennai. "Who is this? Perhaps Sanjay Dutt's son?" would wonder an Indian Cinema fan with no clue on the identity of this man who sings when he smiles, or smiles as he sings on the rooftop of a building that "boom boom!", and that "it burns" (literal translation for "bum bum que me quema!", the chorus of the song). (Note from HCB: Check his video out!)

His name is Antonio Carmona.

Born in Granada Spain to one of the most acclaimed flamenco families, Antonio has music in his blood. He is an artist who the Spanish speaking world associates with the band "Ketama". Just like the band's  hit song "No estamos lokos" (We are not "Krazy") proclaimed, Ketama dared to mix the most orthodox flamenco sounds with the rest of the world, inviting their audience to listen to it in a new way. This was the beginning of their acclaimed fusions with jazz, bossa nova, salsa and bolero, as well as numerous collaborations with world artists like Toumani Diabate from Africa.

After his musical separation from Ketama, Antonio seems to have aligned himself with a deeply personal need to explore outside of familiar grounds. His first solo album "Vengo Venenoso" (I come with Poison) was produced by Gustavo Santaolalla, a gifted Argentinean musician and winner of the Academy Award for his soundtracks ('Babel', 'Brokeback Mountain'), who, incidentally, is currently writing the music for the next Indian film 'Dhobi Ghat', produced by actor Aamir Khan and directed by his wife, Kiran Rao.

This album, which was made with a much more minimalist sound than the one Ketama used for their work, includes ten songs that touch upon issues like immigration in Spain, or topics like women, and his own experience as a father, a son, a gypsy.

This restless nature of his, perhaps inherent to his being a gypsy, seems to give a lightness, an ease of sorts to his journey, whether he's searching for new horizons or, in the case of his trip to India, his roots (gypsies - or Roma people, like some of them prefer to be called- are an incredibly diverse group that hails from Rajasthan). The artist himself had expressed his desire to travel to India, a wish that came to fruition when he was sent as part of his country's delegation to attend the the 5th Spanish Film Festival celebrated in Chennai in March of 2010. (See the interesting interview he gave to Times of India here)

In a fortunate turn of events, like it often seems to happen in the world of art and music, one thing led to another, until someone said "lights, camera, action" and the film started rolling to register the informal cultural and musical exchange that would become the videoclip for Antonio's new single "Bum Bum" (which will be included in his next album).

Flamenco in India? A gypsy dancing like an Indian star? Granted, he might not be your prototypical filmi hero, but with that singing smile, this itinerant spirit may surprise us in the future with interesting collaborations with artists from the subcontinent. Who knows, he might even prove, once again, that casting his flamenco net even wider and further may not be "krazy" at all.

Written by: Mira

You may purchase Antonio Carmona's music in Itunes
You may purchase producer Gustavo Santaolalla's music in Itunes
Link to Antonio Carmona's video in Chennai

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