By Carlos Oen
VANCOUVER – In 2006, Rodrigo y Gabriela (Rodrigo and Gabriela) surprised the world with their debut studio album by the same name. The cover was a close-up photo of a crocodile’s eye, reflecting the duo facing a large cheering crowd. These Mexico City natives radically transformed classic guitar playing. Without the help of any additional instruments or vocals they delivered a powerful and innovative proposal by fusing flamenco, heavy metal and rock guitars. Rodrigo Sánchez blasts scales, while Gabriela Quintero mastered percussive guitar, creating potent rhythms. The duo, then unknown in their hometown, drew in large crowds in Europe. Legends started evolving around their rapid ascent up the music charts.
Twelve years and seven albums later, Rodrigo y Gabriela have conquered stages around the world. They have played in Obama´s White House and have been invited by renowned film score composer Hans Zimmer to collaborate on different projects. On September 8, they will be playing Vancouver´s Skookum Festival. BeatRoute caught up with them before the show.
We heard there is a new album coming?
It’s going to be released next year. We are in the final process and have written more than 20 songs. We want to play them during our current tour and allow them to evolve. See how our fans react to them. That will help us decide which songs to include on the album.
How do you feel about playing in Skookum?
Good! We haven’t been in Vancouver for a while. I believe the last time we played was during the TED Talks (2015). It is time to return and say hi to all the people of Vancouver.
Rodrigo y Gabriela is particularly popular in Ireland. Why?
In 1999 we moved there and met our manager. He owns Rubyworks Records, which has been our label form the beginning.
Rumour has it you met your manager while playing in the streets?
No. The person we met while playing in the street was Irish songwriter Damien Rice. He used to sit there with us listening to our set. He asked where we came from and talked about his former band. We immediately identified with him because he used to have a rock band. We often had a cappuccino and became good friends. Damien had a well thought plan. He knew where he was heading, while Rodrigo and I had no defined course. We only wanted to play and travel. Had no interest in recording an album. Each followed different paths. We travelled around Europe and when back in Ireland, he already had a hit on the radio. His career had skyrocketed. Again we met in the streets and Damien told us he was playing that night in Vicar Street, Dublin´s legendary concert venue. All of Ireland´s music industry was there that night. Damien invited us to play and that was how we met Niall Muckian, our manager. It was then, after seeing the Irish music industry´s interest for our music that we started to change our vision. First we did small tours in all of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Then we started to play in the U.K. From that point forward, we have not stopped.
How was working with Hans Zimmer?
It was very interesting. He called us to work on Pirates of the Caribbean (On Stranger Tides). We had to learn a new way of writing music. In film, the music is serving the story and characters. It was very “Hollywood.” There, musicians are at the command of film producers and that is it. Then Zimmer invited us to do music for Puss on Boots. That was fun! We had a good time contributing to all those scenes with cats.
Is there anybody else you would like to work with?
We would love to work with many people, but at this moment all our energy is focused on writing music and finding alternative ways to express it. We artists lose a lot of time looking for people to collaborate with. Trying to grasp things you can’t control. There is more value in the work you achieve by putting a hundred per cent of your soul and presence. Most of our music friends are touring and have no time.
What would you like to tell to the folks that are eager to see you at Skookum?
Thank you for all the support during these years. We welcome you with open arms, humble to play for you. Take care! See you soon!
Rodrigo y Gabriela perform September 8 at Skookum FestivalRodrigo y Gabriela, Skookum Festival, Stanley Park, Vancouver