He is the lyricist, among many other hits, of Juntos de Paloma San Basilio, Miénteme de Camilo Sesto, Amor de Hombre de Mocedades or Bailar pastados by Sergio Dalma. Thanks to him, several generations were able to find out what artists such as Raffaella Carrà, Eros Ramazzotti, Roberto Carlos, Francis Cabrel, Ricky Martin, Andrea Bocelli or Roxette said in their songs. He was part of Aguaviva, one of the most important Spanish protest song groups of the seventies, and of that occurrence that was La Charanga del tío Honorio, first band of the so-called ‘roz rurá’.
“I have never been to receive any award that has been awarded to me. I do not have a gold or platinum record in my house. It is a matter of sick social shyness. I have always had it and I still have it. Go to one party for more than four people is unthinkable “
He has made you dance in countless verbenas, putting lyrics to songs like Saca el güisqui, cheli. He has worked with geniuses of the stature of Juan Carlos Calderón, Pablo Pérez-Mínguez and Oscar Mariné. He was a partner of our beloved Cecilia until her tragic disappearance. Spectator of the beginning of the Movida rubbing shoulders with Radio Futura or Las Chinas (whose keyboard player, Miluca, has been married for almost half a century). The tuning of one of the most watched programs on our television, Save Me, bears its seal. And it is, ultimately, the culprit that Ana Belén and Ojete Calor have resurrected the wonderful Agapimú. And all this he has done without almost anyone finding out. His name is Luis Gómez-Escolar and, although until his date of birth (1949) it appears fuzzy on the Internet, if he searches in his collection, he will surely appear credited in more albums than he can imagine. After forty years doing the impossible to erase his trail, he has agreed, in full confinement, to tell us who he is.
The first thing I have to ask you is why, after so much time in hiding, you agree to answer an interview. It is true that I have been silent all my life, but now I do not care much. I’m retired! (Laughs)
And isn’t it a little bit incredible to recount everything you’ve done now? The truth that yes. It is all very amazing. As has been my life, well I have not found out, but now that I have applied the brake, I look back and I can not fit in the rearview mirror.
It is that you have in your possession a huge collection of hits not only over many decades, but also playing many musical styles … It is the result of work. Quality is not enough, it has to be quality in quantity. Nobody knows. No one knows success. You do all the work with the same love but then it is the public or the circumstances that make it successful. I do not think that the song that does not succeed is worse or worse than another that does. Whoever tells you that he has the formula for success in hand, lies like a scoundrel.
But that anonymity that you have displayed despite being on the covers of half of the albums that were released at that time, is wanted, right? Absolutely, I have never been to receive any award from those who have awarded me. I do not have a gold or platinum record in my house. It is an issue of unhealthy social shyness. I have always had it and I still have it. Going to a party of more than four people is unthinkable. Another thing is that time teaches you tricks to move with a certain ease. But it was a pathological thing. Although it suited me very well, because I think that in the world of music, and more at that time, it was very important to be behind the scenes. Only anonymity can keep you from burning down in the spotlight.
And it ensures you a career as long as yours. Yes, what is also clear is that if you go to a hotel and there is no room, they will not give it to you as if you were famous. You queue like everyone else and they never slip through, but you never lose sight of reality. When you are anonymous, people listen to your songs and dance them without knowing that they are yours. And that makes me very sick. I can see the real effect they cause and even hear: “Well, shit this song!”. If they knew it was you, no one would say. The only thing that is not normal is that nobody really knows what your profession is. You are neither a delicatessen nor a pilot of Iberia, but they do not know what you do exactly. They know that sometimes you go with a guitarrilla … So now, my enemy is the Internet.
Of course, because at that time even as Cecilia’s boyfriend you managed to get away … Completely. To my knowledge, there is only one photo circulating around of the two together.
But Cecilia at that time was already Cecilia, a very media character. Of course! Absolutely! But she had her life and I had mine. We saw each other a lot, but always in private or with a very intimate circle of friends. At that time, the press was not as aggressive as it is now. It was a bit of a Miss Pepis press. Things like this do not happen that I just saw now from a guy who is in a video conference and a girl passes behind and all the press is already guessing about this or that. [Se refiere al mediático caso del colaborador televisivo Alfonso Merlos].
And how does a psychology student end up being part of the musical history of our country? Actually, I started architecture and left it. And then I went to Philosophy and Literature, one of the branches was Piscology and already in third, I entered Aguaviva and we began to travel. The one of Aguaviva is something that is not well known: it was a European phenomenon out of all logic, like everything good. He had an overwhelming success in Italy with Poetas Andaluces. We received the Golden Lion in Venice and from that moment Italy exported Aguaviva to the rest of Europe at a time when Spain was only exporting Raphael to Russia and Lola Flores to South America.
“If I was commissioned a song for Rappel himself, well I get into his world so that when the public sees him singing with his robes and glasses upside down, it is believed that the song was made by him”
Then came your only solo album, Simone, an album that now listened to is way ahead of its time. It is not an easy album, no. I probably didn’t understand it myself (laughs). It was a very complex album at the moment. Bit strange. Unwillingly.
And in which once again you were hiding because the name of Simone played a lot of the clueless. Yes, it was the name of another Italian singer with whom we became very close, and since we were very similar to me, they called me ‘the Simone’. The Simone here. And with that I stayed.
However, the best-known part of you is that of a lyricist of romantic ballads from the 1970s and 1980s. In South America, you are considered the inventor of ‘music to wax’ or ‘to iron’. That is typical of South America, of Colombia, I think. It’s the domestic music you listen to at home, when you have the radio on for ironing, cooking or scrubbing. The music that accompanies you.
Beside all those romantic songs, there is also a place for almost technopop songs like Iván’s Fotonovela. That hardly anyone knows it’s mine. It was the first success of Spanish disco music in Europe, in Germany. A very surprising thing. I want to clarify that only the lyrics are mine, the music was by Pedro Vidal. I wouldn’t want these things to be confused. I’m basically a lyricist. I have also composed many musics, but I have mainly written lyrics and almost always on request. I am a tailor. I am not a genius. I take the armhole, the length of the singer’s sleeve and according to that I make the lyrics. They are custom letters.
And then there is your facet linked to the move. In fact, you collaborated in The Crystal Ball, one of the emblematic television programs of that modernity, with permission from Paloma Chamorro’s The Golden Age. Once Las Chinas separated [efímero y deslumbrante grupo español de los ochenta formado exclusivamente por chicas]One of them, Isabel Luna, worked for Lolo Rico on La bola de cristal and there we did a couple of songs for the electroduendes program.
Sure, you had a relationship with Las Chinas because Miluca, the keyboard player, is your wife. We have been married for almost 50 years, absolute nonsense because it works! I always say that I have had two lives. First the life of Aguaviva, more political, of a protest, revolutionary singer. And then a second life with the birth of the Movida. And there were Jose [de Las Chinas y luego Kiki d’Aki], Radio Futura… We all knew each other. I was there but, as always, blurred, from behind.
Well, not so from behind. You became closely linked to a label: Rara Avis, which brought out Kiki d’Aki, the very first Objectives Burma and Los Elegantes. Yes, in fact, Miluca came up with the idea of founding a record label with the collaboration of designer Óscar Mariné, who had the most important independent record distributor, called Pancoca. She directed it and I helped in the artistic part … We took things that nobody did at the time. Later, and inspired by Rara Avis, we created Troya, another independent label, with my friend Julio Seijas and other colleagues, to edit oddities. It was quite successful, especially in hip hop. We were the first to get hip hop groups out of here. I am talking about the year 89. We made a survey of marginal groups and selected four. Madrid Hip Hop, the album was called. A jewel. Traditional engineers did not know hip-hop, or mix or understand it … Then I quit because I am not worth it. You have to go out a lot, talk a lot, meet a lot of people and get handsome from time to time and that I am not very good at … For me, this confinement of the coronavirus is exactly the same as the rest of my life. I live permanently confined.
You discover Burma Target at RockOla, right? Not exactly, it was Kiko Fuentes who gave us the tip one night at RockOla. Then I went to see them at the rehearsal room and they freaked me out. With those three precious ones. The singer and the two birmettes. I made the first album for them, but I don’t know what happened next. It seems that Julián Ruiz as producer was more important. [Después de sus primeros singles en Rara Avis, Objetivo Birmania sacan su primer largo en Warner producidos por Julián Ruiz]. I never understood what happened to them. They had a very good formula. Perhaps also a certain distrust regarding the medium. Back then, record houses were hugely voracious. We were in the middle of a fan phenomenon. Pedro Marín, Iván, Pecos were being devastated … The big companies got you into the 40 Principales, took you to places that were foreign to you with audiences that you did not identify with. And that is what, for example, Radio Futura no longer accepted with their second album, after releasing Modern Music. And maybe what happened to Target Burma is that, after the little Rara Avis, they fell into one of the big record houses with atomic productions when they were not that. They were of exquisite production, alive and very hot.
Of those two lives you have had, which has been the most fun? Man, on an enjoyable level, do not have the slightest doubt that of the Movida era. The good thing about the Movida is that it brought a kind of carpe diem, relaxation, the protest is over, the pain is over, now we are going to have fun … And it was a true injection of optimism that Spain received, specifically Madrid, those years. Anything we did back then would now be strictly prohibited. How was that! We had lived through so much repression that there was a kind of flailing … I have done things, and that was one of the most moderate, not to believe. It was an explosion, a very violent pendulum blow after having been controlled and, somehow, handcuffed for a long time.
Another of the most surprising things about your career is that the lyrics for the tuning of the Telecinco Sálvame program are also your own. The song Save Me was total. It was sung by Bibi Ándersen [hoy Bibiana Fernández]. It was his first album, a work in the vein of Amanda Lear, that wonderful girlfriend of Dalí. We are talking about the year 1980 and, suddenly, almost 30 years later, he comes back again with this program. Life is crazy.
And in several versions, because MIla Ximénez, Guille Milkyway have sung it … Does it bother you that it is used for something for which, in principle, it was not intended? Not at all! On the contrary! These things are made for the public and then people use them how they want. If they use them for radically different purposes like the hymn of the firing squad of how many, well it sucks. But as long as it’s done for humorous purposes, it fascinates me. Do not forget that we wrote the Saca el güisqui, cheli or Qué pasa con unío, which are cartoon songs, for the amusement of the people. Or the one that said Goodbye friend, good bye my friend that sounds in all the festivals in the country and that everyone believes is a popular song because basically it is. Or the one of comer Eat, eat, is the best to be able to grow ’…
Do you think that, apart from being behind the scenes, your total absence of prejudice contributed to that prolific career? You always have one. But if you make an honest song for any artist and think about it as you write it, there is no objection, even if what you say is not even close to what you really think. If I was commissioned a song for Rappel himself, well I get into his world so that when the public sees him singing with his robes and glasses upside down, it is believed that the song was made by him.
And at what point do you withdraw completely? Because after a very intense period you practically disappear but you have continued to do very specific, but relatively recent, things for artists like Ricky Martin or Chayanne. Actually, I’m still working on four things that I really like, but it’s also true that the figure of the lyricist has almost disappeared. The lyrics are made by the groups or singers themselves and they do them very well. I don’t think anyone can write a song better than Fito Cabrales by Fito & Fitipaldis not to mention classic singer-songwriters like Sabina or Serrat. The letter, in many cases, is no longer important. And then there is that widespread use of English that I don’t understand. I would love it if they did it in Greek or German. Then you see phenomena like Resistiré, which is having enormous importance right now and is undoubtedly due to the fantastic lyrics by Carlos Toro.
And also that the same song no longer adapts to several languages. It has been stopped, yes. Before, almost all international singers ended up singing their hits in Italian, French or Spanish. In English less because the English market was always very closed to the continent. It was a permanent Brexit. This is not now.
Is it true, as Carlos Areces told in a recent interview with ICON, that the lyrics of the Agapimú that you adapted from Greek to Spanish are pure invention? It is true. It has nothing to do with the original. Who knows how to translate from Greek? That happens a lot. Joe Dassin’s song, A ti, has ‘A ti’ and four other things. It is absolutely impossible to translate exactly a text that comes from outside when it is included within a music. Especially when you translate songs from English. An Englishman at the most terrible moment of his life screams Help! A hit. And we say so-corro: three blows. The most comfortable thing is to invent it. Obviously, respecting the general spirit. If it is a love song, you are not going to make it of hate and if it is of freedom you are not going to make it of repression.
You also translated an entire album into Spanish for Roxette. I was an absolute fan of Roxette and I was very excited to do so. But songs in English become boleros when translated into Spanish. Spanish abolishes everything. If you put maracas on A day without you, you have a bowling alley. Another complicated one to adapt was Roberto Carlos because he wanted it to continue sounding exactly Portuguese and he did not understand that it had to be done in Spanish. And I would say to him: “Uncle, you don’t say ‘muito bonito’ here.” (Laughs)
Of all the ones you’ve done, is there a song that you are particularly fond of? They all have their history. There are more exciting or more ridiculous. I could not tell you. Man, the most heartfelt song I’ve ever composed because it was for me, although I ended up giving it, is the Amiga song that Miguel Bosé finally sang. [Gómez-Escolar compuso Amiga tras el funesto accidente de coche que acabaría con la vida de Cecilia]. It was for my personal use, but Miguel was very sensitive and asked me for it and I was very excited that he sang it. He was dedicated and he is a very grateful and very faithful guy.
In fact there is a video in which he performs the song and is crying. It was that he recorded it very excited. They had to interrupt the recording several times because I was crying. It moved him greatly. He was a friend of Cecilia and the story reached him a lot. But it is that we all have a loss of that kind in our souls, perhaps not of that severity, but we feel very supportive of those irreparable losses.
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