Photo: Guiseppe Falla
It Goes To 11: Gian Marco Introduces The Instrument That Links Him To His Home Country Of Peru
The three-time Latin GRAMMY winner plays several instruments, but for him, there's something special about the charango — both because of its songwriting potential, as well as his connection to the instrument's roots.
Peruvian singer/songwriter Gian Marco plays multiple instruments, but if he had to pick a favorite, he says it would probably be the charango — a small, ten-string instrument most often played in Andean folk music, throughout the regions of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and parts of Chile and Argentina.
"I've realized that the charango was the instrument that could allow me to write different types of songs," Marco explains in this episode of It Goes to 11, showing off his own.
In particular, he says, the sound of the instrument points his imagination in the direction of the folk sounds of the Andean mountains. "When I was 14, I started to listen to Andean folklore. When I realized that I could write songs in a different way, with different melodies that have much more to do with the Peruvian mountains, I could easily identify with it," he adds.
Plus, the charango is a natural fit for the singer's own musical identity — perhaps because of their shared home turf.
"I felt it was an instrument that went really well with my voice," Marco continues. "It's part of my story. It's a part of me, of my roots, of my land. Every time I play the charango, I feel connected to my land, to my country."
It's helped him connect with listeners, too. Since 2005, Marco has won the Best Singer-Songwriter Album category at the Latin GRAMMY Awards three times, among many other nominations.
Press play on the video above to watch Marco explain his love for the charango and some of the history of the instrument, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of It Goes to 11.
Who's Performing On The Latin GRAMMYs?
From Ricky Martin and Pitbull to Natalie Cole and Jesse & Joy, view a complete list of 14th Latin GRAMMY performers
With the 14th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards quickly approaching, it's time to think about finalizing your to-do list for your official Latin GRAMMY party. Snacks? Check. Favorite beverage? Check. Dessert? Check.
Now, all you have to do is tune in to the Univision Network on Nov. 21 from 8–11 p.m. ET/PT (7 p.m. Central). To help you get Latin GRAMMY-ready, we've compiled a handy alphabetical guide to artists who will be taking the Latin GRAMMY stage.
And the performers for the 14th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards are:
Banda Carnaval with Calibre 50
Willy Chirino, Oscar D'Leon, Jose Alberto "El Canario," Sergio George, Ismael Miranda, and Tito Nieves in a special segment celebrating salsa
El Dasa with Wisin (of Wisin Y Yandel)
Leslie Grace with Zarkana by Cirque du Soleil
Enrique Iglesias featuring India Martínez
Jesse & Joy featuring Mario Domm
Juanes, Ricky Martin and Laura Pausini paying tribute to 2013 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year Miguel Bosé
Maluma with Becky G
Gian Marco with Yandel (of Wisin Y Yandel)
Paquita La Del Barrio with Mariachi Sol De México De José Hernández
Pitbull with El Cata
Alejandro Sanz with 29 students from Berklee College of Music
Photo: Anton Goiri
It Goes To 11: Jorge Drexler's Favorite Spanish Guitar Has A Special Childhood Connection
In this episode of It Goes To 11, Uruguay-born musician Jorge Drexler introduces fans to his favorite classical guitar and explains why it's the most essential instrument he owns.
Uruguayan singer/songwriter Jorge Drexler's life path included training as a medical doctor — specializing in otolaryngology, the study of diseases of the ear and throat. Still, he says that music, and specifically, the classical guitar, has been a constant for him ever since childhood.
In this episode of It Goes To 11, Drexler introduces viewers to the Spanish guitar, the most essential item in his musical tool kit. As he explains, it was made by Vicente Carrillo, a Spanish luthier who made guitars for Keith Richards and Paco de Lucía, among others.
Drexler's instrument has various siblings. some who've landed in the hands of some of the biggest stars in music. What makes Drexler's guitar truly special, he continues, is the wood it's made from.
"The cover is made of Canadian cedar, and the sides and the back are made of palo escrito. It's a type of Mexican wood," Drexler says. He then flips over his guitar to reveal the gorgeous, multi-toned panel of wood that makes up the back of the instrument.
When Drexler was first learning to play the guitar, as a ten-year-old in the mid-1970s, he had an instrument made from a similar type of wood.
"This guitar is made of Mexican wood," he explains, "and the first guitar I ever had was a guitar from Paracho, Michoacán, made with Mexican wood as well. So in a way, I'm reconnecting with the first guitar I ever had that was made with this type of wood as well."
Drexler's life has changed immeasurably since he learned his instrument: He's been nominated for five GRAMMYs and won five Latin GRAMMYs over the course of his career. In the meantime, he's only grown closer to his Spanish guitar.
"I can play it like it's a part of my body, right?" Drexler adds. "It's a beautiful instrument, and the sound is the most beautiful thing about it.
Watch the video above to see Drexler's classical guitar in action, and keep checking GRAMMY.com for more episodes of It Goes To 11.
Credit: Sam Hodges
It Goes To 11: Scott Kirkland Unveils The Synthesizer That Helped The Crystal Method Find Its Sound
Meet the synthesizer that the Crystal Method's Scott Kirkland has used on every album in this episode of It Goes To 11.
Over the course of the almost three decades Scott Kirkland has spent making music as the Crystal Method — which became Kirkland's solo project when former bandmate Ken Jordan departed in 2017 — he has always depended on a great synthesizer to help him create his signature sound.
In this episode of It Goes To 11, Kirkland introduces the trusty synth that has helped the Vegas-based electronic outfit form its signature sound. "It's been in the Crystal Method family for every album," he says.
That's the Roland Jupiter-6, a piece of gear that Kirland says he originally picked up thanks to LA-based classified ads paper The Recycler — the same legendary paper that once helped bassist Duff McKagen join Guns 'n' Roses and put Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee in touch with guitarist Mick Mars to form Motley Crue.
"There would be, like, 20 to 30 people every morning at 6 a.m. out there getting 'em, ripping 'em open to put 'em on their car," Kirkland remembers. "Some people were looking for free items, some people were looking for cars, and there was a group of us that were always looking for synthesizers. I'm sure that's how we found it."
The now-discontinued JP-6 is well-known for its ability to produce a wide array of sounds. To Kirkland, that's what makes it great. "I always love sounds that seem to be antagonizing each other," he explains, adding that it can easily create texture, sonic juxtaposition and — because the Crystal Method is not a vocal group — create sounds that are ear-catching enough to serve as a main melody.
"It feels like an old friend. Like having a conversation with an old friend. I would never get rid of this old friend. But if I ever had the opportunity to buy a new friend, I would," he jokes. "If any of you out there want to donate your Jupiter-6 to the Crystal Method, I promise you, I will give it a fantastic home."
Hear more about Kirkland's trusty synth in this episode of It Goes To 11, and check back for new episodes.
Photo: Kevin King
It Goes To 11: Samantha Fish's Favorite Piece Of Gear Is A Road-Tested Blues Instrument With A Sound That Sets Her Apart
Blues rocker Samantha Fish shows off her cigar box guitar, an instrument that's been a crowd-pleaser at her shows ever since the day she bought it.
Singer/songwriter Samantha Fish's catalog encompasses an array of different styles, from rock to alt-country to bluegrass. But a major part of her foundation is in blues, and her favorite instrument is a testament to those roots.
In this episode of It Goes to 11, meet Fish's Stogie Box Blues Cigar Box Guitar, a piece of equipment that's been essential to her live show for the past decade. "The beauty of this thing is how durable it's been for me for 10 years," she explains.
The origin story of the guitar — made from an actual cigar box, which once contained 20 premium cigars from Nicaragua — is a memory that's special to Fish.
"I remember being a teenager, and my father took me to my first-ever blues festival in Helena, Arkansas. They call it the King Biscuit Festival. And a lot of the bands and one-man acts were playing this instrument," she recounts. "I remember thinking, 'Wow. So cool and unique.'
"Fast forward, years later, I got hired to play the same festival with my band," she continues. "I saw a guy selling these, and I said, 'Hey, this is kind of circular and perfect and serendipitous. I'm gonna buy one.'"
The first time she tried it out in front of a live audience, the reaction was immediate. Now that the guitar is so special to both Fish and her fans, the singer admits she's not sure what she'll do once it dies. "You find it, and you're attached to it, and it's really hard to replace it, even if somebody makes you a replica," she says.
Even when that moment comes, Fish will still keep it around for sentimental reasons. "I've got some gear on my walls," she adds. "I'm gonna play it 'til it can't be played anymore, and maybe there'll still be some shreds of it to hang up somewhere."
Press play on the video above to see Fish's cigar box guitar — as well as some shots of the instrument in action — and check back to GRAMMY.com every Wednesday for more episodes of It Goes to 11.