Fanfare Ciocarlia: Gypsy songs from all over the Balkans are the fuel for our instrument
An: Hello from DJambore.com – the independent Bulgarian media for music. We love your music and we are looking forwards to see you in Bulgaria during the winter Brazz Fest! Please, introduce yourself and tell me something more about each of the orchestra members…
Oprica Ivancea: Hello from Romania – my name is Oprica Ivancea, saxophonist and band member of the 24-legged brass beast – better known under the name Fanfare Ciocarlia. Our home port is the tiny and remote village of Zece Prajini – North East of Romania. That’s the place where we all grew up and where we still spend our time, when not touring around the globe. Our band is a multi-generation gang – the youngest musician is 26 and our senior mate is more or less 70 years old. We are proud being Gypsy musician and we all have learnt our craft at the feet of our fathers and grandfathers. Traditional dances from Romania, Gypsy songs from all over the Balkans and our own compositions are the fuel for our instruments. We got known not only in our region but abroad too through our matchless speed performances and a heavy monster sound which makes walls shaking. Fanfare Ciocarlia has been founded back in 1996 and since 1997 we are non-stop touring around the planet.
You have travelled all over the world. Could you tell me the most exotic place you have ever played?
Yes – it’s true, we have travelled all around the globe since the last 17 years. We’ve seen so many beautiful places and even more airports… Well to be honest: the most exotic places I remember have been somewhere in Australia, Japan, Island, Brazil and Mexico just to name a few. Also once we did performing a wild party somewhere on the hills around Hollywood at Danny Elfman’s birthday. Seeing all those American big names dancing to a boisterous Romanian Sirba has been exotic too. On the other hand I must say that every place can be very exotic – it just depends of how do you personally feel and how positive is your attitude towards life.
Your performance in Bulgaria is the start of your World tour. Is there any country or city you have always wanted to perform at but you never did?
Unfortunately we’ve not yet succeeded to send some nice postcards from South Africa, Alaska and Varna to our families…
Hope to see you in Varna also! In your webpage is announced that you are “a 24-legged brass beast whose eastern funk groove has torn up halls and festivals across the planet.” What kind of an animal is Fanfare Ciocarlia? Something like a crazy centipede or more like a dancing bear?
Neither nor. You know, we are 12 band members and the moment we enter stages and start playing we are undergoing a transformation to one creature or let’s say to one musical animal. This animal, beast or just call it band, get many extremities and can’t life and work without them. Every musician has his very important function and role and that’s why we got acclaimed for an absolutely precision, outraged speed without loosing control and our warm sound. We all becomes a one man show and that’s what makes the difference between us and other conventional brass bands. We don’t need a band leader or a “star” amongst ourselves because all 12 musician fuse into one 24th-legged brass beast that audience usually can’t revoke it’s the musical gravitation.
A year ago you have released a new album with the Canadian guitarist Adrian Raso – Devil’s Tale. Could you tell us about the album and your collaborations with other artists?
Oh yes – this has been fun! Back in yearly 2012 we got a nice letter from a fan in Canada. That guy was Adrian Raso – he introduced himself as guitar player from Ontario and a huge admire of our band. He asked us if we would be interested to produce an album together with him – combining Django Reinhardt’s Gypsy Swing, Rockabilly and Americana with our Balkan brass tradition. Sounded very strange to us and that’s exactly the reason why we agreed with. Doing stramge things is our favorite dish! Everything but not boring! Probably the best time we ever had while recording the album in Toronto in fall 2012. Adrian is a great person with tons of amazing ideas, stories and a very talented guitarist and banjo player. He guaranteed a complete freedom to us to do the arrangements in the way we would like. He took us on a great journey trough many musical styles – just like a road movie and we are very happy with the result of this album. Finally we could conquer and experience new musical terrain and break through typical Gypsy brass clichés. At the studio we came together with brilliant musicians like Kevin Figueiredo from Extreme, John Jorgenson, who performed many years together with Elton John and Sting, and Rodrigo from Mexico known as the famous duo “Rodrigo y Gabriela” And yes – the record rock’s – doesn’t it? This album fits perfectly our previous productions – just to name a few: Balkan Brass Battle (with Serbia’s Boban Markovic Orchestra), Queens and Kings (with Esma Redzepova, Saban Bajramovic, Mitsoura, Jony Iliev and Kaloome from Spain). By the way: We are happy to announce our first Devil’s Tale Tour – together with Adrian Raso and his band by end of May!
Do you think that a mixture of brass, jazz, gypsy and funk pulls the devil’s tail?
Yes – definitely! It’s like cooking a soup. You can prepare a potato soup just in the way you do since hundred of years or you are creative and ready for new tastes and mix the old recipe with new and unusual spices. If you are a sensitive and adventurous the soup can be very tasty… In our case we are brave enough to pull the devil’s tail and to mash up our musical background with others. And here we are!
What kind of music could make you pissed off most?
Music can’t make us pissed off – we agree with Duke Ellington who once said: “There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind.” But one thing we really hate: bands who play for themselves and not for their audience.
You have developed musical theatres as well – Gypsy Queens & Kings (which brought together many of Europe’s greatest Romany musicians) and Balkan Brass Battle (which saw the Romanians face a Serbian orchestra) both toured the world to great acclaim. Do you think of developing new musical theatres (may be with Bulgarian musiciansJ)? What are your plans for 2015?
Well – at the moment we are very busy preparing the stage show “Devil’s Tale”. Together with our new touring companion – the Canadian guitar and banjo virtuoso Adrian Raso – we’ll tell a different story, and fêted with consistent and consistently erratic style! Guitar amps reconciles with our brass section and goes on a wild ride from New Orleans, over the Atlantic and onto Paris, and then, untiringly, deep into the Balkans, through the derelict streets of Detroit and back to urbane Toronto.
If you could record a song with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Jesus Christ – many names to list! But just to name a few: Toni Iordache – the greatest Cimbalon player every, Romica Puceanu – Romania’s legendary voice, Calexico from Tucson Arizona, Herb Alpert and his Tijuana Brass Band from Mexico, the freaking Gogol Bordello and crazy Ferus Mustafov from Macedonia.