The five-piece band are taking the world by storm with the release of their debut album, the self-titled ‘The Gypsy Queens’, so we took the opportunity to talk inspiration, experience and most importantly, the music with lead singer and guitarist Didier Casnati.
Tell us a little bit about The Gypsy Queens, and how you formed.
The Gypsy Queens started 11 years ago as a bunch of buskers that get together, mainly myself and another person. We would be out there every morning, every day, every night and it started being known that we were gonna be there, so a lot more people started joining and people knew that this was happening, people coming, people going, so this is how it really started. Slowly, and gradually we moved to more professional ways of doing it. Slowly we started doing maybe restaurants, and maybe private parties etc. This is how we came about doing what we do today. This is more or less the story of The Gypsy Queens, we really started out as buskers.
Could you tell us a little bit more about the busking lifestyle?
It’s a very free lifestyle in our case because we chose to do busking. In other words, it’s not always somebody’s choice to be a busker. In my case it was my way of surviving at first, but then when I could choose I decided to stay a busker and to progress in the form of busking. There is a big freedom in busking and it’s a big joy in a way because you more or less constantly face adversity. You’re playing for people and then when you win them over, if you do, then it’s an amazing satisfaction. It’s not like you’re immediately telling them “we want money for this”, you first play and maybe you get money. So it’s a free gift and then hopefully you get a donation. I like that; it’s a generous way of playing music.
So what’s the inspiration behind the band’s name?
We were busking in Rome and we were busking for this very classy or upscale restaurant, and it was owned by a notorious gay figure of the Rome nightlife who was there all the time, and he would offer us dinner after we busked. “Come on in, come on in, sit down, I’ll feed you. You guys remind me of The Gypsy Kings but this is a gay place, so you are gonna be called The Gypsy Queens!” We went along with it, because fine, he’s feeding us and the tips at his place were very consequent back then, eleven years ago. We thought fine, he wants us to be called The Gypsy Queens, let’s be called The Gypsy Queens.
So, 11 years on from that now, what can new listeners expect from your album?
Well the 11 years of travelling and the 11 years of being together is very well represented. Larry Klein did an amazing job at keeping that feeling there. So you can imagine, if you hear the first song L’Americano you can imagine your holiday in the south of Italy where maybe a bunch of buskers came and played in front of a café. You can really expect to travel with us in a way without the disadvantages we get like the hours of flights and stuff like this. We’re kind of taking you with us in the album.
The album reached number one on both the Amazon Hot New Releases charts and the iTunes World Charts, how did that make you feel?
I was very surprised to be honest. What we are used to doing is having immediate results. Play a song at a table or play a song busking and people either like it or don’t like it and there’s no charge in that. So all of a sudden our name, The Gypsy Queens is at number one of something, wow! It was an amazing feeling of surprise and I still really don’t know what it means because I’m so not used to this form of things. If I understand, my interpretation of what it means is our effort is appreciated and people are liking the album. If this is what it means then I’m delighted because our goal was to share our music with a much larger number, and if we have succeeded in doing this then I am delighted.
Well, you’ve played for some high profile people including Prince Harry and Elton John, what’s been your best experience so far?
It’s actually not a celebrity. It was a branch in Venice where we were absolutely unknown, and we were the last act after a weekend where you had high calibre artists, some big acts had been there for the whole weekend. Friday night you had somebody big, Saturday night you had somebody big and Sunday brunch, you had us. We’re unknown, we’re the busking band that nobody’s heard of, this is four years ago, and at the beginning nobody paid attention, nobody was really with us. Then slowly, slowly we won everybody over and by the end of our performance everybody said “this is the best act we’ve had over the whole weekend”, after they had had all these big acts. That for me is achieving something, we made people happy, regardless of all the big flash names they had in front of them, it was us that they remembered. I was never competing with the other artists because I didn’t know who they were, and I’m still not competing with anybody, but having winning a competition you have competed for feels great. It was later when everybody was trying to book us it was like “oh s***”.
You’ve been on shows such as BBC Breakfast and This Morning, how has the reaction been since appearing on these shows?
Well first of all a lot more people know us which is obviously the goal of being there, but I think the reaction is the same as it always was, both on our side and the public side, except there were a lot more people that know us. Other than that, we are the same people we were before we went on television. We expect the same reaction off some people as always. So if we do a good job they’ll like us and if we do a bad job, then they’re absolutely entitled to dislike us. I don’t see a major difference, in other words… even if people recognise us now more in the streets and stuff, I haven’t won a gold medal at The Olympics. So I really appreciate it, I like it, but should it have not happened I would not be depressed. I’m delighted it did, it’s a fantastic thing, but nothing changed, we are the same people we were before.
Where can the UK fans expect to see you play in the future?
We’re doing a UK tour next year I hope as soon as the festivities at the end of the year are over, and there will be obviously information about it. I think we might start in the first two months at small venues, small things and see if we can win people over and go to bigger stuff.
So what else can we expect from The Gypsy Queens in 2013?
We are playing with the idea of coming up with an original song, which we haven’t done yet. We’re toying with this idea. I think it’s great we’ve done all these covers and I’m very happy how people like them, but maybe now we can take the risk of coming up with an original song and if you don’t like the album, I don’t care, if you don’t like the songs, it’s not my fault. I would like to be in the situation where “this is us, this is even more of us, now.” So maybe 2013 is the original songs of The Gypsy Queens, but again this is only the idea for the moment, I have to have the label and everybody agree, but I think this is the way forward, to come up with an original and give even more of what we do. So far we’ve given our versions of all these big songs and now we give you OUR song. I think this is the way.
'The Gypsy Queens' is available for download or purchase now.
FemaleFirst Daniel Falconer @Danarazzi