Alex, Chupi, Zach (Valle), El Niño, Omar and Tony are the core of the popular Romani-Cuban band, Mandinga, and along with their new singer, Barbara Isasi, they want to spread what they call their “urban latin vibe” around the world. In 2012, they won the 12th place in the Eurovision Song Contest, representing Romania, and from 2003 to 2012 they released 5 studio albums, a number that could change soon after the release of their brand new single “Soy de Cuba”!
But who really are Mandinga and what exactly does their name mean? How do they manage to convey the multicultural element that unites them through their music and what exactly are their future plans? All these and many more were revealed to us through the exclusive interview they gave us, remaining as always “true” to us and to their audience as well as to themselves!
Mandinga invites you to meet them and surrender to the “magic” of their music!
I would like to start by a small introduction of Mandinga, a group which intertwines harmonically music elements from various cultural backgrounds, Romanian, Spanish and Cuban. But, who are really Mandinga?
Mandinga is a formula full of Latin and fresh vibe. We are a very diverse group of different nationalities and that’s why we try to put the best of each together. We try to transmit positivity and make people disconnect from their stress to connect to our world. Mandinga also keeps real while getting adapted to the new musical era.
Mandinga played salsa from the beginning, but not in a mainstream way. We like to play salsa and we think that we can let go our imagination and experiment different musical styles with Barbara on our side, as long as we stay in the latino category.
Mandinga has the meaning of “magic” or “spell”. How would you say this is related to you and your music?
It’s the first time we hear this. When we found this name for Mandinga, it came from an African Tribe. But if you say it also means “MAGIC”, we could say that we like to play with magic and create music.
How would you describe your sound and what drives your passion in making music? Also, where do you gain influence/inspiration from, to create your music?
Our inspiration comes from different types of artists: from the classic ones, to the newest talents in the showbiz. Since Mandinga is composed by very different members, we try to get inspired by the things that help our music grow and sound better. We are open-minded and we love listening and enjoying all types of music. You never know where your inspiration comes from.
Some years ago, you had taken part at the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 with the song “Zaleilah”, a pure Latin song. After some time and a few tweaks in the lineup of the group, with Barbara Isasi joining the group, Mandinga are focusing on a more Spanish salsa-flamenco-pop vibe. Generally, we’ve seen you experimenting with music genres successfully. What would you say is the key of this?
As music is constantly changing , we need to get adapted to that, while staying loyal to our vibe. It’s our passion for music and what we feel from our public that moves us to continue creating songs. Mandinga’s sound evolves all the time. You need to move fast and innovate in this industry, that’s why Mandinga tries to come up with something new in every song
You have been a part of the music industry for years. What is the biggest difficulty you have had and how you did you face it? Do you believe is easy nowadays -especially for new artists- to shine in an industry so dense populated?
The music industry has been continuously changing lately. Nowadays, music is consumed in a massive way and very fast. This means we need to move faster and better since the competition is higher and more powerful. There are so many artists out there and that’s why we need to insist on bringing new stuff on the market all the time. It’s hard but it’s also very motivating when you are working for something that you love and you believe in. Mandinga is a project for life and even though everybody goes through ups and downs in their careers, we have a very positive way of being and thinking and that’s where we get our energy, no matter what.
I noticed you have been very active through social media, with your fans following you in every step. How does this feel and how important is for you all this support you receive from them?
Having a very active online life is very important today, especially if you are an artist. We like to be with our public and we feel good when we receive feedback from them! The public is the most important for us,because without them, we would not exist!
Have you ever received negative criticism and if yes how did you respond? Also, how is your relationship with your fans?
Since people have very varied thoughts, it’s almost a rule to be criticized both in a good and a bad way. Critics are needed. Always with respect, but totally necessary. We use them to improve, to enhance ourselves as artists to be better. We are very lucky with the fans we have, they are loving and show respect for what we do. We try to keep it real to ourselves and I think that’s one of the things our fans like. They are the most important to us and they need to be listened to.
We need to be strong and determined in this world, taking what we consider to be helpful and tossing what’s negative.
You are performing lives in many occasions, presenting your music and spreading a multicultural vibe to the world. How does it feel and how do people respond to that in your opinion?
We love to perform live at all the events. There’s nothing comparing to the energy that we release when we are on stage, performing live. It’s something we really enjoy and we love getting connected to our audience. The audience will always appreciate an artist who performs live and they will connect differently from the ones who don’t.
Recently you released a new song “Soy de Cuba”, which draws you to its magical rhythm. The video clip of the song has also been filmed in Cuba. Would you like to share few words about that?
“Soy de Cuba” is our most recent single and it was filmed in Cuba to bring the Latin vibe as maximum as possible. It was an unforgettable experience that we all enjoyed. It was the first time that the whole Mandinga formula flew together to America to film a video and we are so thankful to all the team involved in this project. The whole video was produced in the Island and we thank Alex Volintiru, our video director for such an amazing job.
It was a lot of work in a short time but we moved fast and efficiently and we are proud of the result. We also filmed another video, which will be our next exotic, Cuban single, so stay tuned!
What are your plans for the near future? Are you thinking of sharing your work through a complete studio album?
We haven’t released an album since 2012 and we really think of making a new one. We will probably launch two albums: a salsa album and a pop album. But we will let you know about this at the right time. Keep an eye on us because we’re going to create a lot of good music! We hope you will like it and we hope you will join us, as you always did.
Do you have in plan any collaboration with other artists? Who -either artist or band- would you say would be in the top of your list if you had the chance to collaborate with?
There are so many international artists Mandinga would be happy to collaborate with.
Since we go with the urban Latin vibe, any artist in this field would be more than welcome! haha From major music legends as Mark Anthony , JLo to upcoming new artists such as Badbyunny, Becky G , Ozuna…
Finally, do you have a motto in life that keeps you going?
Our motto in life is our passion for music. Our public’s reactions to our music is what got us motivated to keep creating. Without their support we couldn’t keep spreading our sound all over the world and that’s exactly what we plan to keep on doing.
Any messages you would like to share with the Greek audience?
We want to thank the Greek audience for their support and we hope our vibe can get to more and more people and make Mandinga’s family as biggest as possible.
Interview: Eleni Kefallinos