Nacho Cano: “Art and humanity always go together”

IE Focus

15 June 2012

Songs like Hijo de la luna (Son of the moon), Me colé en tu fiesta (I gatecrashed your party), Hoy no me puedo levantar (Today I can’t get up), Maquíllate (Put on your makeup) and Cruz de navajas (Crossed knives) have accompanied us through the decades, forming part of our lives and forging indelible memories. Behind them all lies Nacho Cano, songwriter, singer and one of the leading members of mythical Spanish pop group Mecano, which has sold some 25 million records worldwide. Following his time with Mecano, Nacho Cano brought out several solo albums and then decided to move backstage to produce shows like Hoy me puedo levantar, or the musical ‘A’. In this interview we hear about his latest projects and his work as producer and manager, and how he sees a positive attitude, constancy, and energy as the key factors for success.

In your experience as an artist and as a producer, which is more important, talent or work?

I think it’s a mixture of the two things, but particularly work and tenacity. If you always work hard the right moment will come along. If you have talent but you’re lazy it won’t do you any good. Good luck exists, but it has to find you working, as Picasso once said.

You have enjoyed a very successful career leading great musicals in Spain, like Hoy no me puedo levantar (Today I can’t get up). Apart from their voice, what makes you choose one actor or another during casting calls?

Without doubt it is how they come across. A good voice is never everything. It is more important for them to be able to capture your interest for whatever reason. We all have something hidden inside, and it’s a question of knowing how to bring it out, use it, and win people over with it.

Your team is, in one way or another, your “small firm”.  What skills do you think are essential to successfully manage a group of professionals as diverse as those who work in a musical?

A positive attitude. I have been working in the field of music for many years now, and I know what it’s like to be up or down, but when you are happy in what you do and, more than anything else, you are following the path that you have decided on, it always takes you to a good place. It is important to always be positive. In this business you wouldn’t be able to live otherwise. It’s definitely what I most value about the people around me.

The art world sets great store in an artist’s personality, the mark he or she leaves through their work as a musician, actor, singer, etc. Where do human qualities fit in?

Artists are usually very special people. It’s what makes them sensitive. I think that art and humanity always go together.

What do you find most difficult about managing a musical?

Constancy. People who star in musicals have to be very well prepared because they sing, act, dance, etc. They have to spend night after night (if all goes well) playing the same part. If you manage to get the same thing across to the audience every night, then the difficult part is over and everything is possible. 

What kind of preparation is involved in a musical like Hoy no me puedo levantar? What are the months leading up to the opening like? The rehearsals? The opening night?

Well, imagine, they are pretty nervewracking. In the case of Hoy no me puedo levantar we had to get all Mecano’s songs ready for the stage, and we all had to be sure that we had managed to achieve just that. I think we managed it.
Right now, would you prefer to keep directing or do you miss the magic of being on stage?

There are good things about both of them. Directing and hours spent studying how to prepare a show are fantastic because you see the songs you created with pencil and paper grow, but when  you are standing before an audience and you can see their faces lit up by the happiness your songs bring them, the feeling of satisfaction you get in that moment is indescribable.

What does the director of a musical need to have in order to get across to his or her team exactly what he wants to convey?

A lot of energy.

Can anything guarantee success in the world of showbusiness?

No, never. The public is very demanding and the more years you have been working in show business the more they demand of you.

What are your main plans for 2012?
I’ve set up a Bikram Yoga Center in Miami, and the truth is that I am focused on that at the moment. It’s easy to live well in Miami (laughter).


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