You have a very diverse vocal style. Are you more into jazz when it comes to live performances?
Not really. Jazz, blues or flamenco, they are all the same for me. I just sing, and I sing the way I feel. In fact, we all ask for the same thing. We ask for the same love. We all talk about the same love. We are all in the music. They are all the same for me.
“El Ultimo Trago” celebrates Mexican diva Chavela Vargas. What attracts you to her songs?
She’s so brave. We need to be that brave in life. I am not afraid of being myself. Chavela Vargas’ songs give me courage to be myself.
Your previous album, “Nina De Fuego,” had more of a flamenco flavor, but this new album has a more Latin jazz flavor. Can we say “El Ultimo Trago” is a kind of break from flamenco?
We can be a brand new person each and every day, and every day is a new opportunity. I feel like a brand new me on every new album, and this album also opens a new door for me as an artist. It’s not a break from flamenco because there is no need to make certain definitions for music. It’s just a new opportunity for me to express myself.
On the new album you collaborated with Cuban jazz pianist Chucho Valdes. How did he influence your style?
Valdes is a maestro. We are all maestros, but only one teacher or mentor teaches us. In fact, they don’t teach us; they lead you to learn from yourself. We are all maestros of this life. We only need to discover what is inside.
You have African roots but were raised in Majorca. You also spent time in New York and Las Vegas as an artist. It’s like you have no boundaries. Which part of the world do you represent as a stage identity?
My country is the place where I feel good. There is another land of order on the stage; my soul, my body and my heart are all there. I may have different identities at the same time, but my real identity belongs to the place I feel happy, and that place is the stage. I feel so happy when I’m on stage. I belong to the stage.
Chavela Vargas is an important figure -- not only because of her talent but also because of her courage with her romantic affair with Frida Kahlo. Do you feel her courage in her songs?
All of her songs [make me] feel her courage, and they especially give me courage to be happy with my loneliness. If you hide from your loneliness, it means you hide from yourself. Vargas encouraged me to be myself and to love my loneliness.
Which Vargas song is most representative of your own style?
The song she hasn’t sung yet is the one which represents me the most. I know I share her secret. I feel the song she never sang.
Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar was the one who first discovered your talent, and he wrote an introduction for your album. What about you? Do you like his movies?
His story is a history of bravery. The stories he created in the name of freedom are so brave. We are so lucky that he could open Spanish people’s minds. He is openhearted and brave. I love his movies.
You also collaborated with Nelly Furtado on her new album “Mi Plan.” How did you become a part of this project?
My manager comes up with these kinds of projects. I am always in the studio, writing poems, singing, recording. All I do is answer phone calls about new projects. That’s it.
You sing a duet with Furtado on the song “Fuerte,” which tells about women struggling. What’s the story of this song?
That song talks about strong people. There are so many strong people and strong ideas around us, but you have to recognize your own strength, your ideas. We have to be strong, and we have to recognize our own strength.
You also recorded a number of house dance tracks. Do you like electronic music?
I love electronic music, and I am electronic music. Now I am working on a new electronic album. But I don’t want to say, “My style is this or that” because I record whatever I feel. I have already recorded an electronic song called “Sonando Contigo.”
Your new album’s opening track is about loneliness. How do you handle loneliness?
As I mentioned before, loneliness is precious. It’s my best friend. It’s the place where I can hear myself. I can see myself when I’m alone; I can understand myself in a better way.
Do you have any upcoming projects with other superstars like Furtado?
I believe in music, and it feels like a unique religion. I respect all artists. Think about a pop star singing to a crowd of 5,000 or 25,000; it’s an amazing experience. People with different ideas, people with different religious beliefs become one with their music. So, I admire so many artists. Imagine a pop star like Madonna singing to a crowd of thousands.
Turkish listeners love your flamenco songs on the radio. Why do you think Turks love flamenco so much?
11 February 2010, ThursdayCENK ERDEM İSTANBUL