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Toni Zenet

Wearing his hat with true Sinatra style and a tie wrapped around a voice that melts with each note. On his lips you’ll note a trace of whisky, cigarette smoke, and words written by Javier Laguna. In love with life and loved by life in return, this actor has rediscovered the classic aura of the fifties and brings it with him to the stage.


By:  Lakshmi I. Aguirre
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Singer and actor
Birth: 1967 (Malaga)
Location: Madrid
Stands out for: his classic aura and cheeky attitude
Did you know? he’s acted in films such as El joven Picasso by J. A. Bardem, Mensaka, Camarón and El camino de los ingleses

Listening to Zenet may not take you as far as the Seas of China (the title of his album). But almost. He conjures up images of European-style cocktail bars and cigars, blue smoke and the sound of a double base. Irresistible women with men falling at their feet in the name of love. He arrived at our meeting with a jacket slung over one shoulder, his hat tipped to the side and looking as if he might cry any minute. His taxi had just passed through a neighbourhood of Malaga he used to stroll through with his grandfather, bringing vivid memories to mind. He ordered a coffee, a whiskey on ice and breathed deeply.

Q: Some critics have called you the new Frank Sinatra. Would you call yourself a crooner?

A: Let’s start out by stamping out the myth. The son of Pepe Da Rosa looked up a definition of the word crooner in a dictionary on my behalf. It said: “a singer who makes a song his own and reinterprets it. Usually backed by a big band”. And then it says something I don’t agree with: “in a low, soft voice”. I don’t think that’s right. I copied mine from my mother!

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Q: You can’t deny that you have something of his style.

A: When we talk about style, we speaking about a particular way of holding oneself; the jacket, the tie, the hat. It’s something that is created over time. I believe that definitions are a sin. I love it when you ask someone what they think of Toni Zenet, and they don’t know what to say. That’s what I like. It seems more interesting to me.

Q: Do you feel closer to bossa, jazz, flamenco, blues…?

A: I love flamenco. I love jazz, Brazilian music and tango. I wouldn’t say I identify with one more than any other. You take all of these influences, mix them up a bit, drink it up, and when you let it all out, it’s just Zenet. I can’t stand the word fusion. It’s dead to me. You have to be careful of the way you use it. I don’t like being pigeonholed. Let every person decide for themselves.

Q: Whose lyrics are you hiding under your hat?

“Se você disser que eu desafino, amor” (he sings). Lyrics from all kinds of people. Brazilians such as Caetano Veloso. Americans like Chet Baker or Billie Holiday. Argentineans. All the greats. But I’ve never tried to imitate them. It’s easy to differentiate a person who is trying to copy them from those who forget about trying and just do it. When you just do it, you create your very own personality.

Q: Should Javier Laguna be jealous of José Alfredo Jiménez, the lyricist of Chavela?

A: José Taboada, Laguna and I usually say “León, Quintero and Quiroga!” the famous trio of composers from Spain. There is no need to envy him. Want to know why? Anyone who hears En los mares de China (In the Seas of China) will realize that the music sounds old style, while the lyrics are up-to-date. Laguna has managed to join together contemporary and classic sounds.

A: Tell me a little more about Soñar contigo.

A: “Déjame esta noche soñar contigo” (he sings). It’s a fantastic tune. I met up with León, Quintero and Quiroga. Laguna took along his lyrics. I read the words “déjame esta noche soñar contigo” and said “oh my god! How are we going to do this?”. José Taboada said “just launch into it and I’ll follow you”. I sang with Taboada following me on guitar. It came out perfect on the first take, proving the saying that “great tunes are not invented, they are discovered”. Some things are in the air. You just have to be humble enough to admit that all you did was catch them.

Q: What came first. Film or music?

A: They came together, although I took a shot at the cinema first. Most of my working experience has been as an actor. Music has been like a woman, following me over time.

Q: Which excites you more?

A: Both. When Juan Antonio Bardem puts you in the Café d’Orsay in Paris, a location once frequented by Picasso, and says the words “je suis bien”, and you are surrounded by seventy people playing extras, dressed in period costume and a film crew who used to work with Jean-Jacques Annaud in Paris, and you say “je suis bien”, you’d probably shed a tear or two. They are emotional moments. I couldn’t tell you whether those experiences have affected me more than performing a concert for a crowd. I’ll just say both.

Q: One of your songs is called Un Beso de Esos, meaning One of those kisses. How many of those kisses did you experience when you were growing up in Malaga?

A: If you only knew! Like everyone I trembled the first time I kissed someone. There’s a line in one of the verses of the song that says; “it’s worth more than all the drugs in all the pharmacies”. I remember waiting for her in the door of her house, dressed up and wearing far too much aftershave. Her parents went out for dinner and we stayed at home. It was just one kiss. Just one. But it turned my whole world upside down.

Q: Have you ever managed to replicate that feeling?

A: It’s never quite the same as that first time with all the emotions that take over your body. I do however try to make every day like that. I’m in a stable relationship with the woman of my dreams and the mother of my children. And when we kiss, we still tremble. I hope it’s going to be like that forever.

Q. When did you lose your Malaga accent?

A: I never lost it! If we spend a few hours together, we’ll try some pescaítos fritos (Malaga slang for fried fish) and some cañitas (beers)… After a little while you’ll see me relax more and more. I’m an actor. When I moved to Madrid I didn’t want to be eternally cast as the gay Andalusian. I therefore learnt to neutralize my accent, something I believe all actors should do.

Q. Are you going to move back to Malaga?

A: The saying “No one is a prophet in their own land” is true. When you return triumphant, you do it like Cesar (he imitates the sound of a drum roll). But in order to get there you’ve usually lived through hunger, solitude and been cheated more than once. I haven’t ruled out the idea that my final days will be spent looking at the sea. But, Madrid has made me what I am today. It’s my city.

Q: How much do you learn on the street and how much hanging around the rich and famous?

A: Don’t forget that one of the greatest thinkers of all time was Borges. He practically lived in a library and never ventured out. He would travel with his mind and create truly marvellous things. He enthrals me with the way he uses words. I believe everyone creates a wonderful world when they lock themselves up in their room. My life is out there (he points at the street). I know the taxi-drivers, the bouncers and the valet. I love hanging out with them. I remember their names, while I’ll probably forget the name of the producer I spoke with this morning.

Q: Who inspires you to take off your hat and whom would you send off to the Seas of China?

A: I take off my hat to any act of kindness. I’d love to take my hat off to anything done with taste, with love and with education. To the Seas of China I’d send those who lie, or want us to believe things that are untrue. Those who want to attain power and those who want to squash all ideas with their own. Those who tell us what is and isn’t politically correct. I’d put them all on a pirate ship and send them off to the Seas of China armed only with swords and let them battle it out on their own.

Q: Do we need more men like Gene Kelly on dark and rainy nights?

A: Of course we do. I think there are some out there. If we really, really look I think we’ll find lots of them. Let’s not be pessimists. There are also many Fred Astaire’s and Frank Sinatra’s. We just have to keep our eyes open.

Video



Discography


These albums related to Toni Zenet may interest you.

Links






28 comments

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El 7 March 2009 a las 12:37 PM, Afro dijo...

Hey! , ése “Estela” suena muy bien. Yo tengo recuerdos de Toni de mi paso por la ESAD. Él por entonces daba cursos de mímica para completar me imagino los escasos ingresos de un actor que empieza a despuntar y he de decir que ya su mirada auguraba su brillantez. Mucha mierda con los Mares de China :)


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El 10 March 2009 a las 4:28 PM, Cecilia Bogaard dijo...

Me he enamorado de la canción Soñar Contigo. No paro de escucharlo! Me encanta como dice Noche, la simplicidad…. ¡Enhorabuena Toni!


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El 10 March 2009 a las 8:20 PM, Francisco dijo...

“Déjame que te deje tenerme pena”. Realmente estos versos nos llevan al cine de los años cincuenta. Las letras de José Alfredo Jiménez son maravillosas, pero ésta de Javier Laguna no se queda lejos. Una buena sorpresa este disco. Ya hacía falta.


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El 2 April 2009 a las 10:29 AM, Katy Baker dijo...

What a find! After reading this article I looked him up on myspace and his music has a special ring to it. That extra something special that makes things unique. I agree with the comment above. Soñar Contigo is a gorgeous song. Please keep me posted on events, and let me know if he’s going to perform in London some time soon.


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El 22 April 2009 a las 4:36 PM, CAHUICH dijo...

QUE VA!!! PERO SI HASTA GUAPO PARECES EN ESAS PORTADAS, INTERESANTE Y UNA VOZ PENETRANTE ACOMPAÑADO DE BUENA MUSICA Y LETRAS EMBRIAGADORAS QUE MAS SE PUEDE PEDIR PARA DUSFRUTAR DEL TIEMPO. ADEMAS ERES CONTROVERDITO LO QUE TE VUELVE MAS INTERESANTE. MUCHOS DISCOS DE ESOS


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El 8 May 2009 a las 4:43 PM, Alejandro dijo...

CREO QUE EL ARTE , LA SIMPLEZA , Y EL ESTILO, ES EVIDENTE ESO VIENES DE FAMILIA NO CREES TONICHI?

BESOS

TU PRIMO ALE


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El 18 May 2009 a las 9:46 PM, Carlos dijo...

Un Maestro, que personalidad, transmite sentimientos cotidianos y muy fuertes.
Lo Felcito y me gusto muchisimo.


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El 22 June 2009 a las 7:10 PM, JuanFran dijo...

Estoy ahora mismo escuchando “Los mares de China” y la verdad esque no sé explicar la emoción que siento con esta música tan intimista,desgarrada y a veces tan tierna. La verdad es que hace mucho que no siento nada parecido y escucho bastante música, pero encima me pongo a ver cosas de Toni y además resulta que es paisano. ¡¡Ole!! Sigue así paisano que eres un orgullo para la tierra de los malaguitas.


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El 22 June 2009 a las 9:09 PM, Cecilia Bogaard dijo...

Read the review of his performance in Seville in June 2009. I loved it!


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El 15 September 2009 a las 4:16 PM, rosa dijo...

Desde que oí el primer acorde me enganchó y ya no puedo dejar de escucharle. Voz, música, letra, todo me emociona. Creí que era argentino, que sorpresa al descubrir que es malagueño.Tan apasionado,es de esos hombres que ya no quedan.Sencillamente magnífico.


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El 24 September 2009 a las 7:59 AM, helen dijo...

Querido Javier Laguna! me siento tan feliz desde que te encontré en Internet,tu tesón,creatividad y voluntad son tan grandes como tu corazon y tu humanidad,te dije que siempre estaría contigo,mis mejores deseos para un campeón.Helen de Gijón


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El 8 November 2009 a las 3:24 AM, flor dijo...

muero por esos temas, me encantan, gracias a mi amigo samuray de malaga q me hizo conocerlos…
Yo soy Argentina y tiene esa melanco del tango tan sensual, vi un video y es tal cual como me lo imaginaba, sangre corriendo por tus venas…
besitosssss, quisiera saber mas de uds.


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El 19 December 2009 a las 2:37 PM, Alicia dijo...

Esto es la elegancia misma, alto valor, voz y musica que acarician el corazon.
Besotes


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El 27 January 2010 a las 7:02 PM, helen dijo...

mi JAVI Laguna! Perdí tu número pero seguiremos conectados siempre,pienso en ti y todo me encanta, todo tiene sentido,mi Javi te encontraré,iré a ver a tu grupo cuando os acerqueis a Asturias,te quiero,todo mi cariño para tí.Helen de Gijón.


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El 21 February 2010 a las 6:52 PM, helen dijo...

MENSAJE PARA JAVIER LAGUNA DE HELEN DE GIJÓN: Mi querido amigo Javi! estoy tan contenta ¿ves como Dios existe cariño? tú eres Dios, un Dios maravilloso, mi cachito especial, tú has dado con la forma de vernos , lo conseguiste cariño, estaré ahí el dia de mi cumple solo para ti mi amor tq.


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El 11 March 2010 a las 8:32 PM, Constanza dijo...

Vamos que hacía falta algo así para neutralizar tanto dolor y tristeza. Qué revelación, Tony, Javi, todos, todos, los amo y agradezco este profundo respiro. Acabo de ver a Toni, el domingo pasado, en el premio de la Acadamia de Música que pasaron por TVE internacional y que recibimos en México. Quedé paralizada de la emoción y empecé a buscar todo lo existente en el internet. Se lo he pasado a todos mis amigos, contactos, colegas, etc y de todos recibo la respuesta positiva de sorpresa y gusto. Ya queremos tenerlo en México. Para cuándo? los invito a mi casa cuando vengan aquí. Los adoro. Gracias


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El 11 March 2010 a las 8:38 PM, Gioconda Fiorentina dijo...

Toni….. qué bárbaro!!! te amo. Uyyy, divino lo que provocas con esos “desarreglos” e irreverencias. Muérdeme flojito… con un beso de esos mientras me quitas la ropa.


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El 2 May 2010 a las 4:09 PM, Luisa dijo...

Concierto en Ourense, realmente fantástico, sorprendente. Qué bueno que existan!! Gracias


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El 6 July 2010 a las 1:09 PM, Teresa dijo...

Maravillosa actuacion en Oropesa del Mar. Pude compartir unas cervezas contigo y tu equipazo de músicos, despues de vuestra actuación. Inolvidable, para guardar en mi baúl particular de recuerdos, el largo abrazo de despedida. Recorde mi poema “Tus brazos son mi pista de aterrizaje, desciendo a repostar esencias…” Ven a Benicasim. TERESA-ISLA.


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El 7 July 2010 a las 6:01 PM, Teresa dijo...

te deje el comentario anterior.


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El 1 August 2010 a las 6:49 PM, Elisa dijo...

Hola, ¿alguien puede informarme de la actuación de Toni en Nerva, Huelva, el próximo 5 de agosto? no consigo información por ningún sitio. Gracias.


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El 8 August 2010 a las 8:45 PM, Laura dijo...

Acabo de escucharte por primera vez y ya quiero más. Gracias caballero.


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El 11 August 2010 a las 1:32 PM, chaconbo dijo...

Yo estuve en Nerva…


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El 11 August 2010 a las 1:36 PM, chaconbo dijo...

Yo estuve en Nerva viendo a Toni Zenet…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_s-kVFUwHo


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El 11 September 2010 a las 5:28 PM, wileisy dijo...

es excelente me encaaaaaanta


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El 26 October 2010 a las 11:35 PM, marichu dijo...

Toni zenet me has pillado para siempre…!!! buenos registros y estilazo en el decir,y una banda extraordinaria!!
mi enhorabuena.


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El 22 June 2011 a las 1:57 PM, VANESA dijo...

bravo toni zenet… podria escucharlo horas y horas..MARAVILLOSO.


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El 25 December 2011 a las 8:32 PM, juan carlos dijo...

de lo mejor que he oido, estupendo toni zenet



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