Albert Alabedra is a Spanish guitarist living in New York City. A native of Barcelona, Spain, Alabedra grew up exposed to Flamenco and the Rumba Catalana. At the age of 14 he taught himself to play the guitar and has been working on his craft ever since. We sat down with Alabedra to learn more about how he got his start, what inspires him, and what’s next.
Lehach Filippa: First things first, do you go by Al, Albert, Mr. Alabedra, or Alberto el Mamífero?
Albert Alabedra: Alberto or Albert, sometimes closer friends call me Mamífero.
LF: Can you tell us how you got the nickname, Alberto el Mamífero and what it stands for? What does it mean to you?
AA: Mamífero means mammal in English, I got it long time ago. We are all mammals right? [laughs].
LF: You grew up in Barcelona and were raised by your mother from Cordoba and your grandparents from Sevilla not too far from the birthplace of Flamenco. Did your family play the guitar and encourage you to play as well? What do you think ignited the spark?
AA: I always had music around since I was a kid. My grandpa always had Flamenco on the radio and TV, and we had a guitar in the house, a mandolin, also a keyboard. I wanted to play Beatles songs at the beginning and rock.
LF: Wow, so you grew up playing three different instruments, that’s impressive. Did you think that it would lead to a career as a musician? What kept you going?
AA: Yes, when I was 14 [years old] I wanted to be a rockstar [laughs]. I started playing in bands, wanting to make it my living. Later I realized I wouldn’t be a “rockstar” but at least I could make it my living.
LF: When did you make the move to the United States and how do you think that has shaped your career opportunities as a musician?
AA: I made the move [to the United States] four years ago, my Flamenco teacher told me about the opportunities here, and the economy in Spain was really bad, so it was the right time to do it. Being here, it opened my mind in many ways. I met and worked with amazing musicians that I never imagined before.
LF: You’ve performed on stages and clubs throughout NYC as well as festivals across the country. Do you have a favorite venue or concert set-up and why?
AA: I really love playing at The 55 Bar, a very small club located at the West Village since 1919. Some of my idols play there regularly too, so for me was like a dream. With 30 or 40 people it looks extremely crowded! We always pack the club when we are there so it is amazing.
LF: You recently recorded a solo album with mastering legend Robert Honablue responsible for mixing sound for some big name artists - Miles Davis, Led Zeppelin, Barbara Streisand, Carlos Santana to name a few. What was it like working with Honablue and what did you take away from the experience?
AA: Robert Honablue is a master in many ways. He is extremely talented, he tells you the right thing to do and then you do it and realize that that was just incredible. What a genius! He has like 40 years of experience recording in analog tapes, and that sound is priceless. Undoubtedly, I never recorded something like that before.
LF: If there was one piece of advice that you could give your younger self what would it be?
AA: Be yourself, be humble, try to make a better world and help people.
LF: If there was one piece of wisdom that you could impart on an international musician just starting out in his/her career, what would it be?
AA: Being a musician is tough - you never know if you’re gonna pay the rent next month but it is priceless in the way that you enjoy what you do, you are more free. Music is beautiful and has the power to make people happy so do it with love and keep composing, learning, sharing. The purpose of being a musician is not [about] money so don't expect to be rich, just expect to be happy and to make people happier!
Albert Alabedra lives in NYC and regularly performs at public and private events and festivals, including: 55 Bar, Cornelia Street Café, Rockwood Music Hall, Shapeshifter Lab, Aire Ancient Baths, Flamenco Fusion Festival, Harlem Eatup Festival, and the New York Ethnic Music Festival. Current projects include recordings featuring percussionists Noemi Perez and Auxi Fernandez and producer, Richie Flores. Recent live performances have included Alba Marba and internationally acclaimed saxophonist Melissa Aldana.
For more information or for upcoming performances please visit http://albertalabedra.com.