Family Ties: Gipsy Kings

Over the course of forty years now, you have sold millions of albums and played endless live performances. How did Gipsy Kings survive over these years? What were some difficulties you had to cope with?

We all know that the world of music is not easy. We were lucky to find a unique style of music in the world and this has made it never die in oblivion. The beginning was difficult because we came from singing in family parties and we had to knock on the door of the 'big fish' in the music sector in order to be listened. Once they heard what we had to offer, they loved our music, we stayed and even today.

Gipsy Kings became a symbol of the gipsy culture in the world right after its establishment. Why did you choose to deliver gipsy culture via your music instead of pursuing a different path in your musical career? What was the main inspiration?

We are very proud of our culture. It is a pleasure for us to have made our ethnicity known to the whole world through our music. Gypsy culture not only refers to music but also refers to our habits and lifestyle: respect for others (especially the elderly), the value of family and friendship.

They say that gypsies are born knowing how to play the guitar and sing, and in a way I think it is so. I feel lucky for that. I was born listening to my father sing, who has been a source of inspiration for me. Music has always been present in our lives and that is something very important. Today I can say that I feel happy about who I am and what I have learned.

As you also mentioned in previous interviews, the inspiration of family was huge to Gipsy Kings. Do you believe in legacy? How does music run through time without becoming irrelevant?

As I said before, I was born surrounded by music. I think the day I was born, the doctor received me singing a song (he laughs). Almost all members of our family are artists: some are singers, other musicians and other dancers. Music for us is a means of expression and so our ancestors have always transmitted it to us. I know for sure that they would be proud of us for what we have managed to do with the gypsy culture and that from somewhere they are watching and smiling.

You are known as the band who played at the parties of Bridget Bardot, Charlie Chaplin and Picasso. What was your favourite live performance memory to date?

The band was formed in 1976; It was my father who had the pleasure of meeting these personalities. Picasso, for example, was an unconditional fan of our family and came to hear them sing whenever he could; same as Bridget and Charlie.

Today we are still surprised that there are great celebrities in the world who come to our concerts and know our songs by heart. It is a real pleasure for us that such important people feel identified with our music and dance to the rhythm of our lyrics.

After all of those years of global success and accomplishment, do you still feel like there are more to undertake? Do you still hold the passion and enthusiasm for your work as the first day?

The world of music does not stop evolving. There is always something new and innovative. We started making more traditional music and in our last concerts we are making more innovative rhythms, with more current sounds. Flamenco has also evolved like all music. A clear example is that of singer Rosalía; She has transformed flamenco, always respecting its roots.

Personally, all of us remain excited and excited about our work. Every time we go on stage it is like our first time: the same illusion. Working on what you like is the best pleasure of life, therefore we will never lose the desire to dedicate ourselves to this.

How was “Gipsy Kings by Andre Reyes” project born? Andre was a former member of the group; how did your paths coincide again?

My brother Nicolas and I founded the band in 1976 animated by our father José Reyes, a very famous flamenco singer of that time. I have sincerely lost count of all the concerts we have performed together, surely more than a thousand.

This can be seen from the public. For us it is very important that there is a good complicity between us. We are family and we understand each other with just one look on stage. It's a very nice thing that ultimately translates into a good show.

What do you feel about revisiting Istanbul? Do you have a specific memory that you would like to share with us regarding the city? How was the audience last time?

We are very happy to be able to performance in Istanbul. Of course, it is a country we always want to return to. In addition to being a beautiful and unique place in the world, the character of its people is amazing; I think we look alike in the way we are. Something that attracts my attention of the citizens of Istanbul is how much they enjoy our concerts. Everyone knows our songs, they dance and sing them perfectly, despite not knowing our language. We are eager to return.

Interview: Nazlı İlke Kaya