French-born, Spanish-bred musician and guitarist Mario Reyes returns to Dubai next weekend to perform live at Karma Kafé, playing Latin classics and original Gipsy Kings hits such as ‘Bamboleo’, as well as a few of his own tracks thrown in for good measure.
You played a gig in Dubai earlier this year. How often do you return?
I’ve come to Dubai several times and I love it. The people are nice and the mix of nationalities and cultures always makes performing in the city very enjoyable.
Where are your favourite places to visit in Dubai?
I really like Dubai Marina and the Downtown Dubai area – both areas have great restaurants.
This year you launched an album entitled The Gipsy Man Sings From the Middle East. What is it about Middle Eastern influences that fits so well with your music?
I’m in love with Middle Eastern music. It’s made up of so many delicate sounds from instruments that are unique to the region. Middle Eastern music has the most beautiful texture, and listening to it makes people feel good. I wanted to be a part of that, and that’s why I incorporated it into my album.
What’s a greater inspiration for songwriters – love or tragedy?
Love, tragedy and life all inspire songwriters. You have to love and hate, win and lose to fully experience everything life has to offer, and these emotions inspire you – all these feelings influence your songs.
You’ve had many big moments in your career, such as performing at the Vatican in 2000. What has been the highlight so far?
Meeting Pope John Paul II at the Vatican was a great moment for me – it was incredible to meet a real man of peace. Another highlight was performing on the Gipsy Kings’ world tour in 1995, when I replaced lead guitarist Tonino Baliardo.
We hear you worked with Andrea Bocelli to record a track in 2004. What was it like working with him?
It was very easy, and the track, ‘Sin Tu Amor’, turned into a beautiful duet with a lot of emotion. We both have a passion for music, and that’s what helped us create such a beautiful song.
Which other musicians would you like to work with?
There are a lot of different artists, but Sting is at the top of the list. I’m a really big fan of his work.
What can we expect from your set at Karma Kafé next weekend?
A fiesta! It will be the best of the Gipsy Kings, as well as my own compositions. You may recognise an interpretation of ‘Laily Lail’, my duet with Lebanese musician Carole Samaha. It’s going to be a great night.
Mario Reyes plays Karma Kafé on September 9. Doors open 6pm. Tickets Dhs450 for men, Dhs350 for ladies, including open bar (04 423 0909)