An Interview with Raf “Mono de Azucar”
I have had the pleasure of interviewing and photographing Rafael Lijtman Gorella aka El Rafa prior to his gig on Wednesday 18th May 2016. He will play with his band “Mono de Azucar” at The Vault below Putney Pies. Here is a little bit about Raf, the music and some images from our photoshoot in Putney, London. If you’d like to come down and join us for a pie and some great music, see you there.
2 Putney High Street, London. SW15 1SL. From 8pm.
What’s your name?
Where are you from?
Buenos Aires, via Brixton.
Is there a story behind the band & how it started?
I wanted the songs I’ve been writing in my Spanish mother tongue to get out there. They mean so much to me as they express my life’s hectic and eclectic journey. Something like a journal but in songs, if you know what I mean. So I called my old mate Oisin Meehan, we know each other for many years from the alternative cabaret festival music scene and he was up for testing the Latin waters with his all mighty fat double bass. We met in my kitchen weekly for a couple of months over food and scotch and after nailing the first set of songs he suggested to bring in his mate Nick Ball who I met previously at Oisin’s birthday where Nick played spoons. I was impressed by how easy was for him to play any rhythm so we met for a jam under a tree at Max Roach park and that was it, ‘Mono de Azucar’ was born. It felt so easy to play together. We’ve also been working with Steve Mathers on saxophone taking the solos and supportive melodies – he comes from a jazz background and it just sounds amazing when we play together. I wanted London based musicians for that special London feel.
How long has the band been going for?
Well, that seminal jam under the tree was somewhere in the late summer of 2014.
As well as Mono de Azucar are you in any other bands or solo projects?
Yes, I’m the the guitarist of The Bohemianauts. A sort of cabaret, gypsy, decadent, polka, waltz, vaudevillian outfit playing cabaret nights, roots venues and festivals. I love making music and I’ve collaborated with many bands and
musicians since my early teens in Buenos Aires and in London since 2001. I play solo gigs as well.
What’s been the highlight in your musical career so far?
mmm.. well, there have been many moments where I felt blessed and grateful for following and allowing myself to be the musician I’m. Seeing a big crowd dancing to our music last summer at the Spanish food festival in London south bank was very moving or having a solo slot at Brixton Splash a few years ago and realizing that the secret special guest headlining the event was Manu Chao was very uplifting. We met and he praised my rendition to the tango ‘Cambalache’ which was very rejoicing for me to get a compliment from such an amazing and acclaimed artist who I admire. But overall and putting the wooing away, I’m very happy just playing for people who enjoy listening. That’s the ever present highlight and reward I can ever have.
Thank you for joining us here at The Vault. As we love Pies here at Putney Pies….
What’s your favourite pie?
Ahh.. good question – so far it’s been my mom’s diced tenderloin Shepherd’s pie with sweet potatoes, I’m telling you, no one can beat that one but I’m really looking forward to try Putney Pies’ Braised Shank own version. Can’t wait!
‘Mono de Azucar’ play The Vault at Putney Pies this Wednesday 18th May.
Thank you Raf. Bring on the music!
gem rey x