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A beautiful affair
Their unique combination of sensual Latin melodies and brilliant, metal-inspired guitar playing have made Rodrigo y Gabriela a phenomenon in their adopted Ireland, with a platinum album, sell-out tours and barn-storming festival appearances already to their credit. Now, with the release of their third album, Rodrigo y Gabriela, their sights are set on the international arena. Here, this extraordinary couple explain why they swapped sun-drenched Mexico for rain-kissed Dublin – and, for the first time, talk candidly about the open relationship they enjoy, as long-term friends and lovers.
Adrienne Murphy, 20 Feb 2006
“It’s the reason we stayed here for a whole year,” Rodrigo adds. “Our plan had been to travel in Europe, starting in Ireland – but we ended up staying much longer, before heading off to busk around other European cities.”
They returned to Ireland after their first stint on the continent, tapping back into a fan-base that was ripe for expansion.
“It was about three years ago that we started to do proper gigs in Ireland,” says Gabriela, who is a real extrovert and peppers her conversation with a string of Dublin-style expletives. “It helped that loads of people knew us from weddings – it’d be like, ‘Oh, I saw you playing at a cousin’s wedding party…’ The first time we played Whelan’s in Dublin we sold out the fucking place, because so many people had seen us play at parties! Ireland’s a small place, and there aren’t, like, loads of Mexicans playing guitar around – so word spread fast.”
Since their humble busking beginnings, Rodrigo Y Gabriela have made major strides into the big league.
“There was a big shift when we signed a record deal,” says Rodrigo. “We put out two albums, Foc and Re-Foc, and at the same time we started touring in the UK, playing at the festivals there and in Europe, all the time expanding our fan-base.”
They had some help along the way from key individuals. Other musicians, Rodrigo says, started inviting the pair on tour. “The first to help us was Damien Rice,” he explains. “He got us to support him here, and when he started playing in the UK, we supported his gigs there too. We met people like Kíla and the Buena Vista Social Club, who also invited us to support. This got us into the world music scene. It’s been a great way into the industry.”
The pair say they adore Ireland for its people and culture. The country has served as a launching pad for their career and Gabriela and Rodrigo still keep an apartment in the centre of Dublin. Recently, however, they also acquired a house on a spectacular, inspiring and tranquil Mexican beach.