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Thirty years of Rarefolk

Óscar Valero, “Mufas”, and Leslie Jordan, are sitting near the Barqueta Bridge, in Seville. Both of them remember their adventures in Rarefolk. They answer every question of the interview relaxed and laughing as the sun behind them makes the Guadalquivir River shine. Respecting their turns to speak except for a few comments, they explain that their music does not belong to the typical three-minutes songs with lyrics and chorus. “Mufas” recognizes with laughter that “to swallow an eight-minute set of instrumental songs you have to be very mad”. With no opacity, they naturally explain how each one of them performs an unwritten function within the group, such as the comings and goings of the different musicians that have been part of this project that is now in its third decade. Although they consider Rarefolk to be a family, “Mufas” says: “it has never been big parties at the incorporations nor big dramas at the farewells. Everything has been a natural process”. Furthermore, he affirms that the group was born teaching in high school like any other. Leslie, a violinist and a keyboardist of the group, is one of the six current members of Rarefolk for eight years, and “Mufas”, who plays the electric bass, is one of the founders of the group.

What was the inspiration to define the style of Rarefolk?

Leslie.- I would not say that there is only a group that Rarefolk focuses on or draws inspiration from, but I think that Rarefolk has precisely an essence of its own because it has been nurtured by many different influences. For example, Rubén is Galician. He comes with that tradition of Galician music, he is also a piper. There are some who are more rockers (…). They have also been inspired by Indian music, jazz. In other words, a bit of mix.-

You have never had vocalists except on the occasional occasion. Would you consider adding a voice in the future?

“Mufas”.- The matter of the voice has never been missed, although people always say… “If you were to sing, if you were to have vocalists”, as if it were a panacea, we include a vocalist and suddenly the group is going to move up a step. That is not real, but we have also played a lot of with voices (…). We have never been a group of proclamations or anything to say, we have not had, so to speak, anything to say. We prefer to work on expression and communication on another level and let the people themselves interpret it.-

That is, let’s say you want to make a kind of musical poetry, right?

Leslie.- You can say that way, maybe yes.-

“Mufas”.- You come to a rehearsal, a new song comes out, and we are working on the process of setting it up and you might be surprised by the way we are, we are not talking in a technical way. “The waterfall is coming, it’s coming”. Everyone draws themselves.-

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How did you decide to make a video of yourselves playing live?

Leslie .- (…) I just think that a bit of added value that we put into Rarefolk is the fact that the album is recorded live, were are six people and were are all playing with our imperfections, but I think that it is important to show that this is not playback, this is not auto-tune… (…). It is like a pretty sincere way to show what we do.-

You have your own composers, but would you like to compose a song for Rarefolk?

“Mufas”.- Look, this is a very interesting question. I think that I have never though about it. I have composed in other rock projects (…). I don’t think I ever thought about it with Rarefolk because I have a role that is completely focused on stage. I have always been the one who has presented a stupid story or hit boats on stage or such (…). I really like what others do so much that I consider my contribution to be elsewhere.-

Leslie.- I have to say that I have never seen myself as composer, but with the other group I have with “Mangu” and Rubén it is true that sometimes I have composed a melody as a Celtic type (…) but of course Rarefolk is a something else and I still haven’t seen myself up to it sincerely, but I don’t rule it out.-

Are the titles are given by your composer (“Mangu”) or have you a consensus?

“Mufas”.- Perhaps this is the most common creative process we have. There among all, the typical brainstorming and from there stripping, until one hits the button.-

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What other group efforts are there?

“Mufas”.- The Rare have never been a group of anything that costs effort, the history of The Rare is very fluid. There has been no such sense. The effort has also been a little bit to keep this that way. I think that is the only thing that we have forced ourselves into and we have put a lot of interest in maintaining the spirit of Rarefolk, the spirit of independence, of control of the process, from composition to publication. That has given us a lot of freedom. That freedom is what has kept us together. There have not been external impositions, we have always done what we really wanted, we have respected everyone’s moments.-

Do you think you will ever retire, or will you always be playing?

“Mufas”.- A cousing of “Mangu”, who was a friend of ours, said that we would never disappeared a long time ago and time does really pass and it its true because that is what we were talking about before. We do not have the need anymore, as it happens to many bands that start with the anxiety of “this album has not been successful, it’s just that we haven’t played in such a place, it’s just that…”. We have taken that out of our speech and of our backpack.-

Although Seville is the city which connect them, none of them is Andalusian, except for the Drummer, Rafael Rabal, the most recent addition. They do not consider themselves connected to folklore, they proclaim themselves eclectic. The name of the group is, in their opinion, one of the few times they have found something that perfectly define the group. “Folk” for the musical part and for their association with people, friends. “Rare” because, as they say, makes reference to something unusual, something strange. “That defined us both musically and humanly in a certain way”. Rarefolk is, in fact, the substitute for his first name which coincided with that of a French group. They have worked with singers such as Cathy Jordan from the Irish group Dervish, Andreas from O’Funk’illo, who have been the soundtrack of a Galician film: Chapapote, have been part of the Ortigueira festival and have played around Ireland. After such varied projects, the next one is a tour with the Spanish national ballet dated for the summer of 2021, for which they have made a doll that has made them return to the bagpipes. “We have decided not to return to the bagpipe a long time ago at the risk of killing Rubén, because rehearsing with a bagpipe is very hard”. However, they are satisfied with the results. The afternoon is falling. The interview ends up with some photographs and thanks. Little by little, “Mufas” and Leslie are blurred by the city’s traffic.

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