Lycaon: ジプシー (gypsy) and the Origins of Flamenco

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Lycaon is a band well known for mixing other styles into their music, including electronic, jazz, and even dubstep. For me, this really made them stand out from a lot of other visual kei bands. They further diversified with their 2015 single ジプシー (gypsy) which included elements of flamenco.

You may be wondering if the song has flamenco elements, why is it called gypsy?

I’m really interested in history and recently re-watched an episode of Museum Secrets about the Palacio Real in Madrid, Spain, which featured a section on the history of flamenco. Flamenco originated in Andalusia in Southern Spain, and was created by gypsies. In the 1960s, dictator Francisco Franco ordered the gypsies to make their traditions, including flamenco, more tourist friendly.

The tourist image of flamenco is castanets and polkadot dresses, however traditionally flamenco has no castanets, only clapping and an improvised song called a soleá. These songs have lyrics with suffering, sadness, and pain. This is linked to their history – since the 15th century when gypsies first arrived in Spain, they had been an oppressed minority.

In Lycaon’s song, the theme is a love destined to end, a parallel with the band’s impending disbandment. While I don’t know for certain the band’s inspiration for the music or lyrics of gypsy, I think because of the flamenco elements in the song, the title may have been chosen to reflect the origins of flamenco.

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