SINCE the 1987 release of their international hit single Bamboléo, the Gipsy Kings have dominated the
SINCE the 1987 release of their international hit single Bamboléo, the Gipsy Kings have dominated the world music charts — selling more than 14 million albums along the way.
The song for which they are arguably still best known, Bamboléo was also the first track on their eponymous album, Gipsy Kings.
Many people saw this as their debut, but in fact the band had released two less-noticed albums in 1982 and 1983.
Gipsy Kings’ roots go back to at least the middle of the previous decade, when brothers Nicolas and Andre Reyes — the sons of renowned flamenco artist Jose Reyes — teamed up with their cousins Jacques, Maurice and Tonino Baliardo to form Los Reyes (“The Kings” in Spanish).
The Grammy award-winning band, which formed in Arles in the south of France, has featured singers and guitarists from the two families ever since.
Although the Gipsy Kings were all born in France, they identify as gitanos — members of the Spanish Romani people who fled Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War.
Over the years their unique style has seen them bring Catalan rumba to audiences worldwide — with their music being characterised as Spanish flamenco and Romani rhapsody meets salsa funk.
Today the Gipsy Kings’ two most prominent members are Nicolas Reyes and Tonino Baliardo — both of whom will be fronting the band when they headline the Henley Festival on Saturday, July 11.
The Henley Standard caught up with them for a quick chat.
Do you feel evangelical about your style of music and what it represents?
I would not use that word evangelical, but we do feel a sense of obligation to pass along the music and culture that has been passed to us.
We love this music, which has been embedded in our lives, and have enjoyed the festivals and gatherings that our families throughout time have always been a part of — and we do want to continue to pass that along.
What does it mean to you to play in a place like Henley, which is so well known for its regatta — but also now its music festivals?
It is a great honour and privilege to play at Henley. We are looking forward to the date. I hope we won’t disappoint.
Do you still enjoy travelling the world and playing for many different audiences as much as you ever did?
Yes, it is part of our culture and has always provided great treasures and material for us to work with.
Our fans from around the world have inspired us and is the reason why we do this. It’s tougher being away from our families, for sure, but we wouldn’t change it.
Do the Gipsy Kings have any plans for a new album at this stage?
It’s early to talk about, but we have been writing new material for a 2016 release. We are excited about how the process is unfolding and look forward to sharing it with our fans.
Have there been any personnel changes in recent times? Any new family members joining, for example?
We have started to bringing our sons out with us. You will see them in Henley and you will see a new vigour and freshness of what we are doing. It has been a wonderful experience. We can’t wait to bring it to you.
A friend of mine is a big fan of your music. She wanted to know what
Bamboléo means to you today and if you still feel the same way about the song as when you wrote it?
That song is one of our most requested. It has always been a surprise to us. The song has created much success for the band and we continue to enjoy playing it.
Every time we play it, it’s different in some way. That is why we don’t mind playing it as it always surprises us. It’s been a great gift.
Gipsy Kings headline the Henley Festival’s floating stage on Saturday, July 11, at 8.45pm. To book tickets, visit www.henley-festival.co.uk