Holy Vallin

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For 15 years, Sergio Vallín has been creating music as the lead guitarist of Maná, the group that has transcended more international boundaries than any other Spanish language rock group to date. From a little kid rocking out to the likes of Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, AC/DC and being trained in classical and flamenco guitar, Vallín has since come a long way earning multiple Grammy’s with Maná and even sharing the stage with one of his idols, Santana.

Since then, one success and endeavor has led to the next. Now residing in Los Angeles for about a year, Vallín dropped his first solo album as a guitarist this past September — all songs on this 13-track album were composed by Vallín and feature 11 different female singers, an album he boldly named Vallin: Bendito Entre Las Mujeres.

We admit it, we thought it was a cheesy gimmick to sell records by including renowned female vocalists (Rosanna, Ely Guerra), right about the time when we saw la Chica Dorada, Pau herself listed in the credits!  Quite the contrary, this album is very personal to Vallín, his guitar never overbearing, and the product is an album layered with a wide variety of experiences and emotions of his past, some real, and others imagined.

We went straight to the source to enlighten us a little on the album’s concept and it’s seeming randomness, to see a more personal, intimate side of a man that is not typically in the limelight. Remezcla caught up with Vallín in  on a hot and sticky afternoon in downtown LA–Vallín had been doing interviews since 6am. So we weren’t really sure what to expect. Perhaps we expected some snobbery of a famous musician, some quick thoughtless answers, or some bored-yawn-type responses from a tired man?

We ultimately met a man with careful and profound answers, a man whose mannerisms showed a genuine down to earth person with a humbling realness evident in his demeanor…from his warm hug and kiss on the cheek (yes, on the cheek. AND jealous cochinos, he’s married, mal pensados!), to his infectious laugh, to the way his eyes lit up when he saw the “super chidisima” electric guitar he couldn’t help but immediately strum (yup, the same Paul Reed Smith guitar Remezcla is giving away!).


Remezcla: You’ve relocated with your family to Los Angeles after having lived in Mexico all your life, what’s up with the move?

Sergio Vallín: It’s a city where I have established deep rooted friendships, a city that offers me the opportunity to express myself exactly how I want to as a musician. It’s only a matter of getting in my car and I can go see my idols perform: Santana, Ynwie Malmstei, to name a few, it’s a very special city for that reason. Don’t get me wrong, we often go back to Mexico and visit, but it’s good to be out here and have a life out here too. This is a city that offers you a multitude of possibilities…Los Angeles, I love this city very much.

RE: Where do you go out, what are your favorite barcitos where will Angelenos can find you on a given night?

SV: Well, to be quite honest, I don’t actually go out too often. When I have free time, I go listen to live music.  I especially love to listen to jazz music…so it’s not uncommon to find me at the Baked Potato [Jazz joint in Studio City selling every baked potato combo imaginable] or at Catalina’s [jazz spot in Hollywood]. I also like to just go to the Hollywood Bowl and hit up the classical music there. LA has much to do, it’s just a matter of deciding what to do.


RE: That song with your sister as the vocalist, “Por Que…” It’s originally a track on a Maná album.

SV: You see, my father died in a car accident. Then, exactly 11 months later my mother passed away. The time, the closeness of it all… it’s always made me think that she died of love. As I wrote this song, I actually pictured my mother holding on to a photograph of my father and questioning my father through the image that remains, asking  “Por que te vas, cuando yo te quiero demas?” On this album, in this version of the story I now have my sister Rocio interpreting the lyrics…for me, it’s simply incredible to be able to now share this song together, no? Because I know that it’s a song that very deeply, emotionally affects her as equally as it does me. I would say this is one of the most moving songs of the album.

RE: You have mentioned that some of the best moments of your life have been  with Wando, the band you started with your siblings and friends almost 20 years ago. What was so great about that time, how has your music process changed since?

SV: Back then with Wando I used to do exactly what I do right now: I would simply do whatever my heart dictated. Back then, or on this album, or when I composed “Bendita to Luz” or “Relax” for Maná, I’ve always had the same process. All of the actions that we carryout throughout the course of our lives, eventually they generate other things…it’s the butterfly effect. Undoubtedly, for me, Wando was my start, the start of this wonderful dream I’ve embarked on. This album is very special because after 15 years I’ve been able to once again bring together my brother and my sister. This has been incredibly important for me, to be able to in one song (well actually, my brother recorded almost the entire album), but it was special to have both him and Rocio reunited once again on one song; it was special to have Rocio interpreting the lyrics to a song I consider one of the most important song I’ve composed in my lifetime.

RE: When you were growing up in el DF, did you ever imagine you would have this much success?

SV: Well, I think success is completely relative. Truthfully, what is success anyway? To have fame? Awards? To have money? I think that success, more than anything, is primarily grounded in happiness. Success is being happy with what you are doing, completely independent and irrelevant of what it actually is that you do in society. You can be the guy who has to sweep the street every day, or the guy who delivers the mail, but if you truly live your life happily, if you find joy out of how you live your life, then you’re a successful person. As for me, I’m entirely happy with what I do, so for that reason I consider myself a successful person–I find joy in what I do.


RE: Alright, so what about the album design, it looks like some sort of comic, punk cover.What’s the deal there?

SV: Yes, the design, well, this was an ingenious idea, created by a designer whose name is Fabiola…jajaja, the thing is though we can’t seem to remember her last name as much as we’ve tried today! But anyway, Fabiola is a designer who came through the Warner label, and she came into our story with some ideas that were super chidas!  Later we then formulated the concept more with her, until we eventually ended up with how it looks now, with me in the middle with my guitar put aside, slung behind me and actually directing this choir. We wanted to give it a fun and creative feel.

RE: Right, right… fun, creative and beautiful, really? Hmm, well…they look like monsters to me, todas deformadas y todo!

SV: Jaja…well, yea they are all kind of a bit like deformed little monsters surrounding me, and I’m just standing there like some sort of unimportant doll, no? But believe me, really, these 11 queens are each magnificent and beautiful in their own way, in all forms and shapes of their being. So really this type of design is more like a small parody, you know, a parody of their perfection and beauty…jaja, yeaaaa…that’s what that design is really about.

RE: After this album, what’s your next project,? Slo work, campaign, book filled of your philosophical ideas and writings?

SV: Jajaja, no…no book, I don’t write THAT well. Right now my next project is definitely the band, Maná. As soon as we finish with promotions for this album, we’re going to start the preparations and foundation work for a new album, which will be dropping mid next year, primeramente Dios. For the last 15 years, Maná has been my life and I’m very excited to know that this story can, and will, continue. In the future, if I can find the space and time to embark on another alternate project, then I will. In the future I’ll do things exactly as I’ve been doing things now: I’ll simply take it all as it comes.