Flamenco & Gypsy Jazz Meeting: Raphael Fays Interview

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Raphael Fays is one of the few successful musicians with the ability to play Flamenco and Gypsy Jazz at world-class level. Here is a true gentleman, devoted to the masters who preceded him and a heart-felt human being. Thank you for your words Raphael!

1 – What have influenced and inspired you to start playing music?

My father was my biggest inspiration because he played the guitar very well. He was a soloist and outstanding accompanist for Django Quintet of the Hot Club of France with Stephane Grapelly.

2 – What motivated you to keep practicing?

My motivation was Django’s jazz music, and also classical guitar and its repertoire. Then I became a composer of classical works for guitar and flamenco. I am very passionate about Flamenco, of course, because of Paco de Lucia.

3 – What were the biggest challenges you have faced in order to progress in your practice, performance and musical career?

The fact of being extremely stubborn helped me a lot, but also the passion I had for the guitar and music in general. I have always listened back to my own playing and I never had regrets about my guitarist performance.

Up to this day, I have overcome a lot of challenges. Along the way, there are always positive or negative reviews and we must deal with it. But what matters the most are all the people who are standing up to applaud me at the end of each concert. After that you have those who just talk about music and those who actually play music.

4 – Do you remember your practice process when you started playing? How much did it change through the years?

I have always worked between 3 and 6 hours of daily guitar practice. Nowadays it’s a little quieter and sometimes I only play for 2 or 3 hours. Over the years we start to let the focus over technique to flow into more thoughts about music and compositions.

5 – How does a regular day in your life looks like?

I get up, take a cup of coffee, listen to music, then play an hour or two and work on new songs.

6 – How do you balance work and rest?

After I have long periods of work I feel the need to move away. I live in the forest and I love it. It allows me to change my mind. Nature is made for this. It’s super great!

7 – What’s your favourite style of music and musicians?

I listen to a lot of flamenco, Paco de Lucia, for sure, but I also love to listen to Vicente Amigo, his way of playing, how he breathes and what he does rhythmically.

8 – Do you meditate or practice any related activity?

I have faith. I believe… (Long pause) I think that in order to do this job, you must have great faith. It’s a difficult job with lots of competitive jealousy. So we even make enemies, of course, unintentionally. We must, therefore, disregard all that and live our own life.

9 – What would you consider to be the most impactful advice or quote you get in your life?

Surely I would quote Segovia when he said: “The more I write the more I erase; and the more I erase, the more I write.”

10 – What would you like to be acknowledged for? What’s the most important aspect of your life’s journey that you’d like people to remember?

I clearly think that we would all like to be recognized for the work that is carried throughout our lives. What I would like people to remember is the sincerity and determination that I always revealed in the music business, for I have come to Earth to play and hear my guitar. This is my main mission.

11 – What would you say to Django if you had the chance to meet him?

I would have to say “Thank you” – a big thanks to this genius called Django. He was very important in my childhood and in my life.

12 – What kind of music would you refer in a conversation to Django?

Since I was very affected by Paco de Lucia’s death, another great guitar genius, I would have to refer his music. I think Django would have liked to hear him play.

What is extraordinary with the guitar is the global culture it has engendered. All these beautiful colours from South America, Spain, Jazz etc. all of this played with just six strings. The guitar is not just an instrument, it’s a universal language that make us all just gather around a fire by a beautiful starry night.

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