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Javier Vargas. Music with the soul of Ibiza
By Carmen Loren
“When I hear Bob Marley I think of Ibiza…”
Ibiza is a unique and wonderful island where creativity flows... where the natural beauty and multicultural environment inspire the many artists who live here. One of those artists is Javier Vargas, who after travelling throughout the world, has chosen to make this Mediterranean paradise his home. Javier is a renowned musician who is the founder and leader of the Vargas Blues Band. He was born in Madrid in 1958, but his family moved to Argentina when he was quite young. As a teenager he began his musical career in the US, and more specifically in Nashville – the legendary “Music City”. In the 90’s he reached international fame with the Vargas Blues Band thanks to the hit song and album “Blues Latino”. His latest album called “Hard Time Blues” came out last year and was featered in his recent tour of Spain and Europe. He is very pleased with how this new music has been received, as from the beginning it became a ‘supersales’ album online at iTunes, and the CDs sold out quickly as well.
But beyond the bright lights that surround this music star, we've had the opportunity of getting to know the person behind the fame. The two biggest loves of his life are his daughter, whom he gets to be with here on Ibiza between tours, and his guitar. Javier is still totally devoted to his musical career despite being in the business for over forty years. He remains in top form with the same eagerness and motivation that he had in the beginning. His mind is a musical library filled not only with songs, but also with the names of musicians, singers and first-class producers with whom he has shared stages, studio sessions and endless anecdotes. His musical background is eclectic, and he tells us that as a teenager he would convince his sister to listen to Jimi Hendrix, while she would get him to hear Marvin Gaye.
Javier is a serious artist who knows and manages his music business professionally. During his career he has rubbed shoulders with iconic stars such as Carlos Santana and Prince. Nonetheless he is a very approachable person with a sharp sense of humour... that can sometimes be quite biting. He is passionate about nature and the vastness of the universe... often gazing at the stars with hope and longing. This aspect of his personality is reflected in the lyrics and video of the first single on his latest album: “Welcome to the World”. The words at the end of the chorus say: “It’s universal love that’s protecting you,” and Javier says the meaning is that love – which is expressed through creativity, music and nature – protects us from hate. “I am convinced that there are thousands of civilizations in the universe. My question is whether any of them have produced creative artists like Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix or Miles Davis”, he comments, and then adds: “Music and art are the heart of an otherwise heartless world; they are the most authentic representations of human nature, and very powerful means for connecting people”. When asked about the title of this song he says that it is a welcome to the kinder part of our world that we might offer to hypothetical visitors from outer space. “We live on an amazing planet!” he exclaims.
Love is also what brought Javier Vargas to Ibiza, and he says, “The island, is a malleable paradise where you can find the yin and the yang, the good and the bad, nature and madness, the wildest night and the most intense spiritual peace”. He thinks that Ibiza has fortunately not yet been totally spoilt by urban and touristic development, and that there are many people here who care about respecting the natural environment. On the other hand, he worries that the island is becoming too commercial having gone down the road of luxury tourism.
From a musical perspective he feels that house music has become too prominent. “In 1978 the island's soundtrack was Bob Marley, and so when I am touring and I suddenly hear one of his songs, I think of Ibiza”. He adds that Bob Marley's music – its essence, its reggae rhythm, its lightness and positivity – represent for him what Ibiza is really about. Javier says that he does not get this feeling from electronic music because it is generated by a machine that has no feelings. “Electronic music hits the senses hard, but does not touch the heart. House music is very predictable and I don't like to work at the same speed all the time – there is no risk in that.” In spite of these opinions, Javier does not declare himself a complete detractor of electronic music. He can appreciate good DJs – those who know how to mix the best music from different decades and can take you on a journey to those other times. “Electronic music offers many possibilities, but only if it is in service of imagination, soul, creativity and the artist's talent. In Chicago I saw really creative and interesting people making this kind of music.”
Ibiza was a big part of our conversation, as Javier knows the island quite well after living here for so many years. He is positive about its future, and is waiting for Ibiza to return to its true nature: calmer and moving towards the light. Then it will once again be a place where people can be happy... where real music that is organic and full of feelings can flourish... a place where all musical styles can find their space.