photo credits: Emilio Maya © 2012
Emilio Maya was born into a Gypsy family in Andalusia, Spain, the home of flamenco music, and has accompanied the greatest flamenco singers and dancers since his professional debut when he was 8 years old.
Today Emilio is considered one of the most respected Flamenco guitarists in the world.
He lives in Tokyo, Japan.
Emilio, why did you choose to play the guitar?
I didn’t really choose the guitar. I listened to the sound of the guitar since I was little. It was always present in my family. Even my grandfather played the guitar. The sound of Flamenco guitar was in my body and soul before I even started playing.
How old were you when you started to play?
I started to play at the age of 8. My sisters liked to sing while they were cleaning the house and I always had to accompany them on the guitar.
My first teachers were my grandfather and my uncle, but also the guitarist Paco Molina, who played very pure Flamenco. He was a great bohemian artist.
Which advice do you give your students who want to learn the Flamenco guitar?
I tell them that if they really want to play the guitar, they have to practice many many hours and in the end the guitar will reward their effort by making them feel good. It isn’t always easy, but the more you know the more you will love it.
It is certainly much better to be able to read music, but I never had the time or opportunity to learn. I always had to work to survive and to support my big family.
There are many discussions about Flamenco puro (the “pure” Flamenco). What is your opinion?
For me, Flamenco in itself is a very pure art form. What happens is that Flamenco has become a very popular and commercial product nowaday, a product that sells well. This is why many people are trying to mix it with other musical styles in order to open new markets.
But Flamenco itself, the real Flamenco that is, will always be a pure art.
For a couple of years now you have lived and worked successfully in Japan.How do you see the success and love for Flamenco in Japan and other parts of the world?
After Spain, Japan is the country where the people love and respect Flamenco the most. Of course this is why so many Flamenco artists live here in Japan. Flamenco is also popular in many other countries but Japan is special somehow and the Flamencos know that.
Find Emilio in Tokyo: http://www.iberia-j.com