In almost every large town in France, what the agents of repression once called “the dangerous classes” now live on the outskirts, in suburbs that are of no interest to the media unless they are suddenly set ablaze.
Like Bordeaux, Perpignan is an exception to this rule. Here, the poor live right in the heart of town, immigrants from every point in the southern hemisphere and Gypsies who travel the world according to their own particular whims. In the very centre of the Saint Jacques area of town, North Africans and sedentary Gypsies have been rubbing shoulders since time immemorial. They’re all French and what’s more they’re all Catalans, proudly laying claim to the blood and gold colours of a region so independently minded that it would never occur to the people here to demand their independence – they won their artistic freedom long ago. Straddling a border no one could give a damn about, Catalonia is perhaps above all a way of life which fits the great writer Miguel Torga’s definition of the universal: “the local minus the walls”.
So it was here in the proud city of the kings of Mallorca that the members of Kaloomé first met each other in 2001 to start a project blending music and dance. But it would be more precise to say that they recognised each other given their obvious alchemy which leads one to believe that they’ve already known each other for a long time. Following a first album (“Sin Fronteras”, 2004) and several changes to their line-up, the group has now discovered its own implacable logic. Antoine “Tato” Garcia (guitar, vocals), Sabrina Romero (vocals, dance, cajon), Guillaume Bouthié (double bass), Majid Benyagoub (vocals, derbouka), Chris Mailhe (congas, percussion) and Caroline Bourgenot (violin) rekindle the flames of a popular but relatively unknown tradition, that of Catalan rumba, which is tougher and less dramatic than Andalusian flamenco but which has nevertheless had its stars including Péret, the Gypsy Kings and the legendary Pata Negra. Opening up to the oriental dreams of North Africa and weaving in a swirling violin, Kaloomé’s rumba goes further than its illustrious predecessors; it proves that nothing is more real than the power of the imagination. But it can also look at the world as it is and try to make it a better place.