This post is also available in: Spanish
Andalucía has always been known as the birth place of Flamenco, a music famed for its passion and intricate rhythms. It is the music of the gypsies and originates from a grass roots level of life. As with many styles of music, Flamenco has had its times of international acclaim with legends such as El Camarón de la Isla taking it to new levels of recognition and times where it recedes back into the caves of Sacramento, far from the masses. This issue, Artista meets Harold Burgon, the founder of ‘La Fabrica del Flamenco,’ which is a non profit organization dedicated to supporting this unique genre of music.
Harold has been living and breathing music and sound engineering since 1965 when he founded his first group in Nottingham, North England, where he was brought up. A guitarist himself, Harold played in many bands before turning his hand to the technical art of recording. During his thirty years of experience he has produced bands from rock to reggae and has made tracks for TV and film.
Having worked extensively in England, Jamaica and Finland, Harold and his wife Kate, came to Granada in 1997, igniting his love affair with Flamenco. “For me, Flamenco music is a phenomena,” Harold says as he shows me around his incredibly compact studio which he built himself in the Albaycin. He has designed and built twelve studios to date and is currently working on an exciting new film and music studio project in Padul, which will be one of six of its kind in the whole of Spain, and is set to open in April 2009.
His record label Andalamusica, allows Flamenco artists to register their recordings and collect royalties. Having worked with prestigious Flamenco musicians such as Emilo Maya (producing ‘Temple,’ which is named after one of the moves used in the bull ring) and Pablo Maldonado, Harold was eager to encourage and support new artists, which led to the formation of ‘Fabrica Del Flamenco’ in 2004.
“The death of El Camarón (1950 -1992) was to Flamenco music what the death of Marley was to Reggae. Flamenco is currently experiencing a dry patch,” Harold says, illustrating the need for ‘Fabrica del Flamenco.’ With funding from the Arts Council in Granada, Harold records, produces and archives Flamenco musicians every year and Kate works hard to organize Flamenco tours on both a national and international level.
“Young artists approach me all the time, asking for help to make a c.d. I always make sure I see the band live and if they’re good I’ll work with them.” Harold’s love of live recording, whether it’s in the studio or on site, is infectious. “Swing is swing is swing!” he says, referring to the electric vibe inherent within the culture of Flamenco. Many great artists have grown up around flamenco and have the compas (rhythmic cycle) in their blood. The juerga is an informal gathering where people are free to join in creating music. This can include dancing, singing, palmas (hand clapping), or simply drumming along on an old orange crate or a table. Flamenco, in this context, is very dynamic – Harold makes it his job to capture this live energy.
Visit the andalamusica web site for information on some of the best Flamenco venues in Granada and rest assured that this vibrant genre is alive and clapping!