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‘We listen to Talvin Singh’

Jaleo Real vocalist, Sita Barbero, tells us about the Indian influences in the band’s rumba sound.

music Updated: May 25, 2010 14:42 IST
Karishma Iyer

They come from the suburbs of Barcelona. Their style comprises of an unusual blend of reggae, rumba, tango, flamenco, Cuban and hip-hop. They are Jaleo Real, and they were here in Mumbai performing at blueFrog on the 19th and 20th May.

The band started playing in early 2002. In 2004, their first album, Pichika, burnt the stages around the world. They are most known for their ‘street rumba’. During this India tour, the band promoted their third album, El Griterio (the Shout), which released recently.

How did you first come up with the concept of ‘Combat rumba’?
The term is not exactly ‘Combat rumba’, the exact term is ‘Rumba calleja’ which means ‘Rumba from the street’. It’s a music style like flamenco or reggae. Our lyrics have a very heavy political message and the fact that people translate it as ‘Combat rumba’ is very interesting to us. In Spanish, this is called ‘Rumba de combate’.

How was it working with Radio Bemba?
Radio Bemba is the soundsystem on Manu Chao, in which our bassist, Gambeat, was playing bass. He was the first bass player of the band eight years ago. The underground scene in Barcelona has seen a lot of people from Radio Bemba, Radio Chango to Manu Chao. and this is largely due to the unique flavour of Barcelona, which is a gateway to many different cultures, influences and peoples.

Tell us a little more about your latest album, El Griterio.
El Griterio means ‘the shout’. It takes some of our earlier songs that were recorded ten years ago, and some of our new material, and it’s a concentration of what is going on in the world around us with crises, social problems, familial problems, environmental/water issues.

You’ve added two new members to the band this time.
Yeah, it’s the beginning of a new adventure for the band, because of the two new members we have incorporated the band. They started out as guests, but are now considered ‘jaleitos’, which means a member/close friend/biggest fan.

Have you guys visited India before?
No, this is the first time for us, and we are very happy to be here and proud to represent Spain, Catalonia and Barcelona. Rumba music is close to gypsy music, and many influences are taken from the eastern regions of the world, including India. We listen to Talvin Singh a lot.

Why have you chosen a bee to be your mascot on your album covers and website?
Because Jaleo Real means ‘royal jelly’! Although we have a political message, our music is fun and upbeat, so despite all the problems we are facing in the world, we want people to be happy, to keep smiling.Which is why we want to make our music as accessible as possible, and so if you go to our website, you can download the entire album for free. It’s available at ww.myspace.com/jaleoreal.