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Published: 2013/07/10
by Glenn H Roth

Rodrigo y Gabriela: A Return to Six-Six

With that said, I’ve seen you guys live, and it sounds like there are more than just two people on stage. How does that happen?

It goes back to the writing process. If you come over to our studio and if you have a seat and listen, it will be the same as if we were playing in a live situation. We are always non-dependent on amplifiers and non-dependent on effects, non-dependent on nothing, and just make sure we got all this down and make it as full as possible and bring a lot of elements so can you hear as if you were hearing a band. The percussion elements, the bass line and the melodies as if we were different instruments. We try to always approach that obsessively.

In terms of the sounds, how did you learn how to drum on the guitar while you’re playing?

I think that came about because we were playing in the street and switched from an electric rock band to an acoustic. So were playing in the street and we didn’t study music properly and we were trying to make the best we could. And in our minds, we still had the band, so it was hard for us to play two guitars only. In my mind, I was like, Where are the drums and where are the percussion elements? So I was trying to always play in it a way so there was always a percussion element or a beat element. And some flamenco music has percussion and I was trying to copy some of the flamenco patterns with the right hand but I never could. I always got it totally wrong (laughing). So then, I discovered some sort of beat time and also playing the harmonies at the same time, So, you will hear a harmony and the beat, so that keeps it steady. The two sounds come from the guitar and I found that as a mistake (laughing).

Let me ask you about Rodrigo. How are you guys similar and how are you guys different as musicians?

We’re totally different in a sense that Rodrigo is more of an intellectual musician. He’s very organized and methodic and I’m totally the opposite. I guess at some point, we complement a lot of each other. That makes us different from each other but we don’t compete and we blend our styles together. I kind of have to be more aware. I used to be all about jamming and not care much about structure. Rodrigo is like, No. It’s four times here and four here, but it works, so we complement each other. Sometimes, I challenge Rod to be a little bit more free and just improvise, because he’s very good at improvisation, but he’s a little methodic and sometimes he wouldn’t do it and sometimes he does. I encourage him to let it go. (laughing)

Speaking of letting it go, can you talk about when you take your solos. What are those moments like?

The solo moment is this moment of just total letting go and seeing what happens. I do not prepare my solos because I do not like it and it makes me nervous, if I try to prepare something and learn something. Even though It’s also little nervous if you go like that without any preparation. But if you let go, something happens and I like that element and most of the time I surprise myself too and I’m like, This sounds crazy. It’s a zone moment and I’m not aware I’m at a gig and I like that feeling and I try to keep that feeling 90 percent of the time of the whole gig. Sometimes it’s very doable when we have good sound on the stage and the planets are aligned. I try to erase myself, be the music and the play the music and I think we took that from playing in the streets. Just play and forget about who you are, where you come from. Just play and at this very moment you become what you are playing. You are nothing at that very moment, just play and let it go. I like that feeling — it’s like some sort of meditation – I call it the zone.

When you’re doing the solos, do you sense the energy of the crowd and hear people yelling out your name?

I feel the audience’s energy and I hear people screaming but I totally block out what people scream because I’m in this very moment. Once I finish the solo, I come back to reality and everyone is clapping.

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