James Cosman, Flamenco Guitarist
Interview with James Cosman, Glamenco Guitarist for Canadian Showcase winning group
James will open at the 2010 Toronto International Flamenco Festival
Interview by Susie Walker
In addition to being a talented flamenco guitarist, you are a gifted painter. Has your Fine Art influenced your music and vice versa?
My flamenco guitar and my visual art are separate entities in my mind. A lot of my artist friends don’t see it that way. They feel that the two are connected and bounce off of each other. It may be true, but I don’t see it that way. My attention span is a little short and I’m an energetic person so if I don’t do things that stimulate my energy then I kind of collapse. Flamenco gives me energy and sometimes painting doesn’t. This might be a way that they are connected. Thematically, my flamenco and visual art are not connected. Yes, I use flamenco subjects in my art, but I wouldn’t do that if I weren’t a flamenco guitarist because I wouldn’t be curious to paint images of flamenco dancers. I think that because I do exist in the space of flamenco that I make art with flamenco in it. My interests in visual art tend to be in a very different area than anything that I go through in music. I have done three bodies of work with flamenco themes over the years and they have all been during the time I have been a flamenco guitarist. My current body of flamenco work is a conscious effort to create visual art in a style that I haven’t’ done yet. The visual artist in me says “I would like to paint in this style, I have to work in this style and create images in this specific style. I think that flamenco would be a really good theme for that style, given that I am part of the flamenco world”.
How would you describe the flamenco scene in Canada?
I think that the flamenco scene in Toronto is pretty good, if you take it out of the individual schools. My experience of Toronto flamenco is that there are a handful of schools and more than anything they tend to stick to themselves and become clans. Intermixing between the schools is minimal, but through intermixing flamenco becomes more meaningful. In Toronto, flamenco tends to be very separate between the different groups. However, there are some people that float from school to school, and Lionel Félix (Executive Producer of the Toronto International Flamenco Festival) is all about facilitating this type of floating. This floating makes for a really nice zone and I like to think that I participate in that zone as much as I am able to. I think that all of the people that participated in the Canadian Showcase participate in that zone. I think that people who don’t live in that zone don’t want to participate in it. In this neutral zone a lot of things happen. Community happens. I like that aspect of it the most. Walking away from the Canadian Showcase, I know I met some new people in flamenco, made some connections, and got to see how other flamencos around Canada do things.
Are you excited about playing for the opening act at the Toronto International Flamenco Festival on October 23rd?
I am excited about playing in the festival. My perspective about this shifted from where it was. In the beginning, I wasn’t attached to doing this at all and as a result of that, I went into the showcase performance feeling very free. The day of the show I was actually very nervous, but I just went out and did my thing and we all had a great time. The fact that we (Lisa La Mantia’s group) won was great. I’m happy for Lisa and I’m happy for us, but I just wasn’t attached to it at all. However, I’m now excited about the show. I’m excited to be part of the festival for the same reason we’ve been talking about. This is a chance to be part of something bigger. In flamenco I never really liked being solo. I always wanted it to be a social thing where I was involved in a community. For me it is exciting to be in an event where there are people from Spain performing. There will be people coming to see the Spaniards, but they will also see our little cuadro (flamenco group) from Toronto. The day of the festival, I’m going to do what I do with love and have a great time performing. That is all I can do. I’m very happy about performing in the opening act of the Toronto International Flamenco Festival.
To see James Cosman perform at the Festival on October 23, 2010, click here for tickets.