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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
Rodrigo Y Gabriela have come a long way since their first visit to Dublin in 1999, fresh off the plane from their native Mexico City, with not a word of English between them. But what were they doing here in the first place, in this odd little island on the edge of Europe?
A Mexican pal had recommended Ireland as a relaxed first port of call in the musicians’ planned trip around Europe. Little did the pair realise, as they struggled to find rented accommodation in Dublin city centre and to master English as it is spoken in Ireland, that in coming to Dublin they’d be meeting destiny with a capital D.
With the dark-eyed good looks of their sun-kissed Indian/Spanish ancestors, Gabriela and Rodrigo were an immediately arresting sight on the streets of Dublin. But when they took out their guitars and started to busk, it became clear right away just how showstopping these Mexican musicians could be. Their unique and startling blend of Latin, jazz and rock guitar instrumentals quickly drew such vast congregations on Dublin’s Grafton Street that the normally lax-about-busking gardai were often called to the scene by complaining shop-owners. Naturally vivacious, gregarious and above all adventurous, Rodrigo and Gabriela quickly made friends in Ireland. Invitations to play at weddings and parties mushroomed, affording them just the right sort of opportunities to practise their rapidly-developing Hiberno-English (Irish accents, slang and swearing de rigeur).
With their gift of the radically new, these Latin American artistes were swiftly drawn to the heart of Dublin’s rock and roots scenes, becoming especially close to Damien Rice, a strong and supportive advocate of their unusual music.
“The weather out busking was very cold at certain stages,” recalls Gabriela – in fact, the weather is the only thing about Ireland they haven’t really taken to. “But busking was such a great way for us to evolve as artists. You really have to give it your best, to get people’s attention.”