Antonio Manuel Álvarez Vélez, Pitingo, (Ayamonte, 1980) has con a great international recognition which has led him to work with Roger Waters or Eric Clapton. In Spain, on the other hand, has been the subject of criticism and ridicule by certain social sectors.
-What do you have in store for your tour performances?
-We have been touring for almost 4 years with my latest album, Mestizo y Fronterizo, although the year of the pandemic was complicated. This album defines me completely because I am mestizo and borderline. Mestizo because my mother is gypsy and my father is not, and I am from the border because I was born on the Ayamonte border with Portugal. We are a band of 18 musicians of all nationalities, from Spanish to Cuban. This makes our music have influences from many places. I have been defending multiculturalism and interculturality all my life. Understand and know each other. It is not only worth living together, but empathizing with the other and understanding their customs, ways of living, etc. Racism is often confused with ignorance. There are many racist people, but many others are ignorant. I really like to speak to the public and make them understand the richness of each culture. When I was 13 I had an identity problem because I had influences from different sides.
-Would Pitingo be the same without these influences?
-Impossible. Not only the influences of my childhood and youth, but also those that I have had from traveling around the world. The first thing I do when I go to other countries is to mix with people from there to get to know their culture, their way of thinking, their music. I always keep the best, never the worst. We tend to stay with the negative, but I try to see the best in each one. There are more good people than bad.
-Certain sectors attack multiculturalism, but you defend it. Why?
-Multiculturalism is one thing and interculturalism, another. The first refers to living with people from other countries and cultures. The second talks about understanding the other and learning from everyone. I have carried that defense as a flag for years throughout the world. As a mestizo I feel the need to do it. The first song by Mestizo y Fronterizo is called Out chains and it talks about how we are all the same after all.
-Does this album define your career?
-Definitely. It is an album with a message, that is very important to me. When I present the musicians at concerts and talk a little about their stories, I am teaching musically and culturally. We must understand that we must respect the cultures and customs of the other.
-Before music he worked in many different places. Did that mark you in your artistic career?
-Yes, because when I was 15 years old I started to work in what I could. I stopped studying at a very young age and I had to look for life. I have been an ice cream man, a waiter, a gym cleaner, at night I went to the tablao … I really value being able to dedicate myself to music. At 18 I decided to start traveling with my music, and until now. Here in Spain Enrique Morente and Paco de Lucía helped me a lot. True success is being able to dedicate yourself to what you love. Wanting to go further is something else because it depends on many different factors.
-Two days ago he shared an article on social networks where his music was vindicated despite the criticism.
-I have been for many years because I released my first album when I was almost 20 years old. I have always fused styles because I grew up in a neighborhood with people from different cultures. I have listened to a lot of black music because my friends taught it to me. I’m used to that part of the public that doesn’t know what I’m doing. In this country it seems that hating what you don’t like is a national sport. I’ve traveled the world and it’s hard to see reactions like this. I don’t want everyone to like me, it would only be missing. Each one hears what he wants. But to wish the worst to those who do not do what you like seems very ugly to me. If so, what would he be living on? In spite of everything, I am grateful that I am doing well and having such a loyal audience. When some despise me or destructively criticize my music, I remember that I have sung with Roger Waters, Eric Clapton, Alicia Keys, Juan Gabriel or Sam Moore.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.