07.07.2010, Words by Charlie Jones

Release notes: El Guincho's 'Piratas de Sudamerica' EP

New series time! Simple idea – an interesting artist tells us about an the story behind the interesting record they’re releasing. First up is the marvelous Barcelonan musician behind 2008’s ‘Alegranza’ with new series of EPs of covers of classic South American songs.

Piratas de Sudamerica EP is a tribute to the very first music I ever listened to. My dad used to work for the socialist party in Spain, in the mid eighties. He had to rewrite all the environment laws that remained very obsolete compared to the other european countries, because of Franco’s dictatorship. That meant travelling a lot, and when the time arrived to work on the very special Canary Islands case (every island has its very own weather, flora and fauna) he took me with him. I was like 3 or 4.

I think back then he was very obsessed with salsa, cuban danzón and above all, Panamanian musician Ruben Blades. Those were the times when Blades released his finest records with Seis del Solar in Elektra, after leaving Fania Records with one of the label’s best selling albums of all time ‘Siembra’ and massive hit Pedro Navaja. We listened non stop to ‘Buscando America’, “Escenas” and “Agua de Luna”. Well, that’s what he says because I dont really remember. I actually started getting familiar with these records again when I moved to Barcelona, almost 8 years ago. I guess moved by nostalgia, I asked my dad to send me a list of these records and at the same time I started investigating by myself and looking for other previous artists that could have influenced Blades, Willie Colón/Hector Lavoe, Ray Barreto, ect. 

Surprisingly, I could remember a lot of the hooks, lyrics and arrangements from all these records and I got really excited about finding out more and more. That’s how I got into all the great cuban 30’s orchestras like Casino de la Playa, Lecuona Cuban Boys, Anacaona or Sonora Matancera, and all the amazing writers (Armando Oréfiche, Armando Valdespí, Calixto Leicea, Bobby Capo, Daniel Santos, Miguel Matamoros, ect.) and singers (Myrta Slva, Leo Marini, Celia Cruz, Victor Pineros, again Bobby Capo, and my favourite Miguelito Valdés) that worked for them. 

What really amazes me of all this music is the “creolle” feeling of it. It has such a strong local power that even when you could tell some of them (I’m thinking now of my favourite band/record ever “Los Zafiros” – Bossa Cubana) were trying to reference north american soul bands or brazilian samba-cançao parceros, they remained extremely unique. They couldnt help but being themselves. 

When I started meeting other musicians in Barcelona, we could always talk about club oriented music, hip hop, our favourite productions in pop records, ect., but I could never find anyone I could relate to when I talked about these records/songwriters. So I thought to myself “why dont I cover these tunes addapting them using production values they could be into or find interesting?”. And that’s what I did. Actually, that’s why I’m doing this. It’s a very exciting way to explain where does a lot of my music come from, pay tribute to it, and get my friends or people that dig my music to discover an amazing world of super fine recordings.

Young Turks released El Guincho’s ‘Piratas de Sudamerica’ EP last month

El Guincho plays Standon Calling, an excellent festival, on the 8 August 2010. Follow this link to buy tickets.

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