A friendship that blossomed in Mexico has brought El Javi to the Okanagan, and Canada, for the first time.
The flamenco fusion duo decided to not only bring their sounds to the Okanagan, but record an album as well. The trip came about after a friendship was struck between the band and former Vancouver studio runner Dave Thomas, who now lives in Summerland.
The two-piece is made up of percussionist Jordi Marin and El Javi, who goes by the mononym.
“Kind of like Cher, just one name,” he laughed.
Thomas has been going to San José del Cabo, Mexico since the early ‘90s and when he saw El Javi playing in a restaurant, he knew he needed to share the sound with his friends back in Canada. It also turned out they were neighbours.
“I was blown away because these guys are good, world-class players, as good as the people who would come to my studio, so I was like wow, we should get them up to Canada,” Thomas said.
“We developed a friendship,” El Javi said “and we were neighbours,” Marin laughed.
“We hit it off and I said I want to hang out with these guys more, how can I make that happen, let’s bring them up here,” Thomas said.
Thomas ran a recording studio in Vancouver throughout the ‘70s, he now operates out of a home studio in Summerland, where El Javi and Marin will be staying throughout their 14-date Okanagan tour, and where they will record their second in a three-part series of EPs.
El Javi was born in Mexico City, while Marin hails from Spain. El Javi had a trio project in Los Angeles and while touring the world he returned to his homeland of Mexico City where Marin was living at the time and the two hit it off.
“It was hard to find the right people to commit completely to the project,” El Javi said.
They have been playing together for the past two years and put out the first in their three-part series, Trip, in 2014. While Trip was just the duo, the album El Javi is set to make during their time in the Okanagan is opening up to a full band, treading away from the more progressive rock flamenco fusion of Trip, and a more approachable sound according to El Javi.
“The instrumentation adds a lot, but also we are making it more accessible to audiences. We’re kind of calling it the most pop of the three, it’s kind of more danceable with Latin rhythms,” El Javi said.
El Javi takes the fast-fingered and technically impressive flamenco guitar style and bleeds it through different genres from Latin and bluegrass to one song El Javi says is almost like R&B.
“We don’t play like traditional flamenco, it’s different, we’re making fusion, so it’s mixed with rock with blues,” Marin said.
“Obviously you have to stay true to certain expressions and certain phrases to make it sound flamenco, then mix in chord progressions that are used in other styles, so you can express with the flamenco flair but also experiment with other music styles,” El Javi said.
The Okanagan itself will make an impression on the sound, as neither of the two had been to Canada before.
“We love it,” Marin said two days after touching down on Canadian soil. “The nature obviously is magnificent here with the landscapes, it’s just relaxing which is nice,” El Javi said. “Every place is different and even the inspiration will help to, just to be here will shape some of the sounds.”
The duo feels taking in the pace of the southern B.C. summertime, and the fact that they have the studio to themselves for the most part, will make the album unique.
“The environment of the place you are recording, it’s a big thing, so it’s good we can stay here, we have time,” Marin said.
All of the live shows on the tour are being recorded as well, and may appear as bonus tracks or live versions of the songs on the latest album.
The tour includes stops at the Shatford Centre on June 27, Therapy Vineyards in Naramata on June 24, the Canada Day celebration in Summerland on July 1, the Dream Café on July 3, the Dirty Laundry Vineyard in Summerland on July 4 and 5, back to Therapy Vineyards on July 18.
Tickets to the Flamenco Fusion Mexican Flair celebration at the Shatford Centre on June 27, which will be a celebration of Mexican food, music and culture, are $40 and are only sold in advance. For more information visit www.shatfordcentre.com or call 250-770-7668.