Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas’ Six Latin GRAMMY Nods Just Aren’t Enough

Dante Spinetta and Emmanuel Horvilleur make up Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas.

Dante Spinetta and Emmanuel Horvilleur make up Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas.

After being apart for 10 years, Dante Spinetta and Emmanuel Horvilleur regrouped to deliver their latest work Chances. And it’s gotten massive success all over the place.

This year, they are nominated for six Latin GRAMMY awards: Best Urban Performance (“Amor”), Best Urban Song (“Ula Ula”), Best Alternative Music Album, Best Alternative Song (“Monta el Trueno”) and Best Short Music Video (“Ula Ula”).

The sixth nomination went to Rafa Arcaute for “Producer of the Year.”

In an interview for Living Out Loud, Spinetta spoke about the group’s greatest satisfaction thus far, their six Latin GRAMMY nods, fashion and much more.

Living Out Loud: What’s the greatest satisfaction you guys have in your career right now?
Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas: Just being able to make music as we’re doing is huge. We’re a band who’s been apart for 10 years, and we’ve all recorded solo work that has done very well. Then when we got back together, we never imagine it would get to where it is now. It definitely exceeded our expectations. We’ve been nominated for GRAMMYs and won several awards, such as 5 Carlos Gardel Awards, which are the most prestigious awards in Argentina for music. Most of all, we very much appreciate the love from our fans. Just seeing the crowds who come see our shows, or seeing fans with the band name tattooed on their arm, brings us much joy. We also recorded a song with Earth, Wind and Fire – one of our all-time favorite bands. Recording with them was a huge deal. Experiences like these are what define your career. Just like the GRAMMYs. That’s a great opportunity to share our music with the US audience.

LOL: How did you feel when you guys found out you were nominated for six Latin GRAMMYs this year?
IKV: It was incredible. I had just woken up, hoping we had been nominated at all. Finally, they were announced, and after the third nomination I couldn’t believe it. I immediately began to shadowbox in celebration. It was a very significant day for us, because getting here is not easy. Now, we’re the most nominated band ever from Argentina, and we’re also the most nominated band at this year’s Latin GRAMMYs. This is epic for us because we’re not close to the U.S. We’ve been nominated before, but now with this much presence. It’s an honor for us.

LOL: What’s the concept for the album, Chances, and what can you tell us about the production process?
IKV: When we first formed the band, we agreed we never wanted to make a ‘greatest hits’ album or anything like that, unlike some of these other bands that are all business. We agreed we would make this album like all the other ones, committed until it was finished. We were together for a full year, and we got together a production trio with Rafael Arcaute, and we began to brainstorm and tinker with ideas, and we did about 35 songs, from which we selected the 14 in the album. The goal was to stay organic, and after being apart for 10 years, it had to sound real. It had to represent us as a duo again. When we both pursued solo careers, we took very different paths. Emmanuel was more pop-rock, while I was more urban/r&b. It was a challenge, but I think that whenever the two of us are together, it’s as if we create a third head, and we synchronize in a blind ambition to create the best music we can. We also have fun. It was a difficult process at times. My father was ill with cancer, and he passed away. And with my father, being the icon that he is here, everything seemed as complete chaos. It was very significant, and we had to pause production a month and a half. When we got back to the studio, we wrote a song called ‘Aguila Amarilla’, which is dedicated to my father. It talks about how my father became an eagle, as per Germanic culture. My father had a very strong spirit, and this song is about how he became something sacred. All those difficulties kept us going, though. We also got strength from the music itself. We needed that to be okay as humans and gain strength. We have a very positive attitude and people feel that.

LOL: How have you both grown as artists since you first got together?
IKV: Well, many things have happened. When we first started, in 1991, I was 14. Since then I became a father of two, Emmanuel of one. We are both divorced. But we’ve been making music longer than we haven’t been making music. We’re always learning new things professionally. We’ve also learned not to act prematurely in our career, and to enjoy the little things, and our family, friends, and the things that nourish you positively. It’s not about work because music is my passion. We’ve taken our time making sure we truly understand this, and that we’re able to cultivate positive things for the future. Everything is happening very fast, but we’re fully immersed in it with that blind ambition. Everyone has goals and ambitions that they wish to pursue, but to us it’s important to do that in a very pure manner – by being ourselves, and not sell ourselves out.

LOL: You guys fuse different styles of music, which is fantastic. How is it that you guys continue to find musical influences and inspiration?
IKV: We’re a very mixed band. We don’t really believe in limits or styles, per say. We believe in music, period. I think that’s what allows us to mix so many different sounds. We’ve always been able to find harmony within different sounds. It also has to do with where we’re from, where we grew up. We’re from Argentina but we’ve been all over Latin America. We grew up in countries like Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile and the U.S. as well. We’ve met musicians and experienced culture and foods from all over. We join our spirits on a global level, and that transcends things like governments. The music connects you to the world and allows you to experiment with all those elements. It’s about a mix of white music with black music, fantasy, and reality. Our inspiration comes from our personal lives and it gives us freedom. We don’t want to be labeled as any one style.

LOL: What’s in your agenda for the rest of the year?
IKV: After the GRAMMYs, we’ll be shooting a video in California. Then we’ll go to Buenos Aires and focus on remixing, and for the first time, we’ll be releasing a Blu-Ray of live performances. There are many songs and many cameras, and it has to be mixed well. It’s a challenge, but we’re fully committed to make it work. It is due out around February – March.  We’ll also be performing all over the place. We’ll see where that takes us but hopefully we’ll be doing a tour around the US soon.

LOL: Do you guys have any collaborations in mind with other artists?
IKV: There are several artists we would like to collaborate with, especially in the U.S., such as Pharell Williams. Meeting someone like Prince would be like meeting God. We hope to continue to work with people we admire.

LOL: What does fashion mean to you from a professional standpoint?
IKV: Aesthetics have always been strongly present in the band. We’ve tried to find a balance between fantasy and reality with our fashion. We’re serious sometimes, but most of the time we’re a little crazy. Music requires us to fly a little bit, and it also needs to have an impact visually. The clothes we wear are from all over the world, and we’re hoping to create aesthetic chaos.

LOL: Anything else you would like to add?
IKV: We hope we can be in Los Angeles soon for fans who want to see us, and join us on this musical journey.

Marvin Vasquez is a Senior Staff Reporter for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle, entertainment and sports.

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