Jairo Zavala of Depedro

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Jairo Zavala of Depedro

Jairo Zavala’s thick Spanish accent crackles through the phone as he paints me a picture of his view: a quiet village just outside Madrid; surrounded by snow-capped mountains, on a misty winter’s morning. As he’s describing this, I can see it clearly: he has a real knack for transporting a listener, and his music is a true testament to that.
The rich and soulful tones of Depedro’s work are intoxicating, from the rhythmic flamenco vibes of Latin America to the pounding beats of Africa, you can immediately feel the mix of foreign lands taking hold. Zavala explains the foundations of this eclectic sound have been built by extensive travelling and immersion in other cultures’ music: “Travel is always a big inspiration. The music has connection everywhere even in style, and if you just enjoy making music, you can enjoy making rock or traditional or West African music or whatever.”
Zavala reflects that from these experiences he has gained a valuable perception on the world that translates creatively for him. “Of course travel, it’s about meeting other people, but what I find more amazing is what we have close to us. So, even if we have different languages and different looks, we pretty much have the same problems every day. It’s a really nice point of view; if you travel, you realise that.”
It’s these everyday problems that, the songwriter says, have become his strongest muse. “The ordinary stories and the ordinary people are what really impress me. Every occasion in the natural world that I have a chance to live every day are probably my biggest influences.”
Depedro’s third album, La increible historia de un hombre bueno, serves as a culmination of both his travels and also this observation of commonplace stories. The album is a collaborative effort of musicians from three continents, with many notable names in world music – from Tony Allen (Fela Kuti’s famed afrobeat drummer), to Joey Burns and John Convertino (from Calexico), to Australia’s own Bernard Fanning.
Come March, Depedro will be bringing this collection of familiar stories and distant sounds to local shores with his appearance at WOMADelaide. He promises a dynamic, unique show that is bound to deliver the flavours and spice of his homeland. “We don’t have any sort of regular show, we always improvise and it’s just a matter of being inspired.”
Zavala explains that finding this inspiration is effortless at such festival where there is a veritable smorgasbord of musicians. “You never know what’s going to happen when you cross paths with other musicians. One of the things that I love is seeing how my music sounds in the hands, in the voices and the spirits of others.”
“That’s why WOMADelaide is a perfect spot to experiment; we can share music with so many other musicians. I’m always open to [collaborating], it’s about trying to connect with other musicians and that happens because we play at things like [WOMADelaide] and we have the chance to meet these people.”
With WOMADelaide heralding his latest journey across the world, Zavala speaks of his excitement to escape the Spanish winter, hit the road again, and to be inspired by Australia’s sound and stories, teasing “you never know I might write another album on this trip.”
When&Where: WOMADelaide, Botanic Park — Adelaide 6-9 March
By Emily Hirst