Vicente Amigo is a flamenco guitarist that has been making a name for himself around the world since the late eighties. Three years into his career he was granted the opportunity to perform at the Leyendas de la guitarra (legends of the guitar), a show featuring such legends as Bob Dylan, Keith Richards and Joe Cocker, and has never looked back. He has since released nine albums, his latest venture, Tierra, currently being toured, where he will be sharing the stage with a variety of different performers.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Vicente via an email interview earlier this month, trying to gain an understanding of what his latest album and the coinciding tour means to him.
Craig Busek (CB): For the past ten years you have been revered for your musical talent. What does it mean to you to have gained success on an international market?
Vicente Amigo (VA): My first international tour as a solo artist was in 1991, in support of my first album “De Mi Corazon al Aire”. I remember my tour in Japan that year with great fondness; [it is] a market that I have been back to 15 times in the 22 years that have passed since then. I have always been amazed by the power of music and the power that music has to unite cultures and communicate. It feels incredible to be able to reach people with my music and to feel that they understand.
CB: You are performing artists who are using non-‐mainstream instruments (accordion, whistles and pipes etc.) Is this simply a case of them complimenting your music, or are you trying to help these instruments become more renowned?
VA: I wanted instruments that had a personality, a land. When you hear the whistle played by Mike McGoldrick or the fiddle by John McCusker you can hear their land, their origins. I have a strong belief that for certain instruments to sound a certain way you need to be from “there”. In this sense there is a very strong connection between the Celtic instruments and the flamenco guitar.
…I wanted it to be an embrace of cultures…
CB: Tierra is your latest album. What was the inspiration behind it, what is its meaning to you?
VA: I wanted it to be an embrace of cultures. I wanted to prove that music is the mother and although there are countless of different styles of music, in the end they are all related. It is possible for styles, which are so different, to sound so right together. It is just a matter of embracing one another.
CB: As an artist, where do you find your inspiration?
VA: I play the guitar all the time. I like to play around with different sounds and rhythms and record the ideas on my phone. It becomes a problem because I literally have thousands of ideas recorded and it is hard to organize them and go back to them all. The inspiration for recording Tierra came from songs I have had for a long time that made much more sense when I first heard the musicians who accompany me play. I knew right away that I would be able to mix well with them.
…The guitar is powerful…
CB: Do you still have the same love that you first had for the guitar, or have you found that, at times during your career, the passion has dwindled?
VA: I have the same love/hate relationship I have always had (laughs). The guitar is powerful. I am constantly trying to tweak things and make it sound better or be more comfortable to play or to play easier. This year was the first time I have played a live concert with a different guitar in over 25 years.
CB: What are your plans after the tour’s end?
VA: I have a number of ideas for a new album. I left the studio after recording Tierra with a number of ideas for another album with the same musicians. It was a great experience. I also have looked at possibilities with other musicians from different styles of music. At the moment we go through December and start again in the spring so it will not be too much time. Perhaps I will stay at home and ride my bicycle. This summer I have gotten out of shape! (Laughs)
…There are no rules or guidelines to art…
CB: Your rise to success is one that most people can aspire to, especially as you have conquered it in a particularly difficult field of music. Are there any words of advice you would give to any musician on how to continue their career.
VA: In all forms of art you must listen to your heart. You need to find a way to release what you have inside of you. There are no rules or guidelines to art. You need to be honest to yourself.
CB: You are performing at the Union Chapel in September. As a performer looking to entice an audience, how would you describe the night’s events?
VA: I always try to keep my concerts quite simple. I want the focus to be on the music, especially with the amazing musicians who will accompany me in London. I think the beauty of the venue will also add to the “pure” atmosphere. I hope, as with all my shows, to be able to reach the audience. To have them feel what my music makes me feel. To receive the message I want to transmit with each song.
…I relish the opportunity to meet the man in person…
It is a shame that, due to scheduling conflicts, my interview with Vicente was only via email, as this truly a man filled with a great passion and knowledge of his craft. His gig at the union chapel is on that I am highly anticipating, and I relish the opportunity to meet the man in person.
For those that are taken in by Vicente’s word, his show will take place at the Union Chapel in London, on the 24th of September.