Rodrigo y Gabriela's Gabriela Quintero on New Hollywood Bowl Series, Life in Lockdown

In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl -Rodrigo Y Gabriela With Dudamel - LA Phil - August 18, 2018-H 2020
Courtesy of Timothy Norris

The co-founder of the Grammy-winning Mexican guitar duo appears in the premiere of KCET’s six-episode series In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl, which runs through Sept. 23.

In January — after around two decades as professional musicians — the Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela won their first Grammy award for their album Mettavolution. “Oh my goodness, this year was going to be a very busy one. We had a full year [of touring] booked,” says co-founder Gabriela Quintero. Instead — as concert tours around the world were cancelled due to the coronavirus epidemic — the musical pair have spent the few months in the Pacific coast Mexican town of Zihuatanejo.

But while live shows are currently on hold, Rodrigo y Gabriela can be seen in action in a never-before-televised performance. They appear in the new six-episode KCET series In Concert at The Hollywood Bowl, whose premiere episode runs tonight on PBS SoCal and which runs through Sept. 23. Produced in association with The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, the shows are a selection of some of the best performances at the iconic L.A. venue over the last 10 years, all drawn from the L.A. Phil’s archives. The Bowl itself closed this summer for the first time in its 98-year history.

The first episode — hosted, as all in the series are, by L.A. Phil Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel — is titled “Hecho en Mexico” and also features Los Angeles Azules with Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) and Paolo Bortolameolli, La Santa Cecilia and Natalia Lafourcade. Upcoming episodes of the weekly series feature such performers as Kristin Chenoweth, Herbie Hancock, Dianne Reeves, Carlos Santana and ballet star Misty Copeland.

Quintero spoke to The Hollywood Reporter from her home in Mexico about what life is like right now for her and what she and musical partner Rodrigo Sanchez are working on.

So how are things for you in Zihuatanejo?

I own a studio with Rodrigo. So we are here. It’s very nice. It’s a small little city and all the beaches are open and there’s plenty of space. It’s very beautiful. We are used to being on the road all the time and being busy. Now that we are in Zihuatanejo, it’s very chill.

How many times have you played the Hollywood Bowl?

We did two gigs on our own and one with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel and another one with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

What are your feelings about playing the Bowl?

It’s one of the most beautiful venues. And it’s one of my favorite spots which is the Hollywood Hills. And nearby is the Observatory. Also it has good acoustics and the audiences there are just so loving. It’s magical every time.

Did you enjoy working with Dudamel?

Even though we met for the first time at the rehearsal, it felt like he was an old friend. It felt so familiar. And then working with him, it was incredible to feel his energy and watch him with the Philharmonic. As a human being, he’s a really nice guy and very down to earth.

How have you dealt with having had to cancel your 2020 tour?

All of a sudden we had to make peace with the fact that we had to come back from the States and postpone the full schedule all over the world and just be at home. At least we are safe and we can create something from our studio and keep ourselves busy and be creative. I think that’s very important.

Are you working on a new album?

I think out of this lockdown, everybody is going to come up with three albums. I think maybe we can release a lot of albums. we will have a lot of material to do that. We are always working on new material, constantly writing a lot of music and also playing other people’s music just for fun to sort of challenge ourselves and go a little bit out of our comfort zone.

Like what sort of music?

Sometimes we pick like classic jazz or Charlie Parker. All those things are challenging for us. It’s almost like a game. It is without any particular purpose. Just for fun really.

How long have you been in Zihuatanejo for?

We moved back from Ireland maybe seven years ago. We stayed in Ireland for many years as our base. Then we were constantly doing tours in the States. It was easier to come back to Zihuatanejo. It was good to come back. There’s a direct flight from Los Angeles. It was easy. Let’s go to a warmer place, out of the European winters.

What did it mean to you to win your first Grammy earlier this year?

Just honestly it was incredible for us. When we released our first album, which is self-titled Rodrigo y Gabriela, we were hoping at least to be nominated but from that day we never got nominated. When our album Mettavolution was nominated, we almost felt like we won the Grammy. We were so happy. We never expected to win. When we won, it was amazing — after 20 years. We were so happy, so grateful with our Grammy. It’s here in my studio.

What else are you doing at this time?

Rodrigo owns a restaurant, a vegan restaurant, called La Raiz de la Tierra, in Ixtapa. It’s really cool and it’s delicious. He’s very much into a lot of exercise. He’s like an athlete. What I do is more into activism about the environment and community. I have an organization, Eco-Vegana. We do a lot of things here in terms of food and gardens and growing your own food. We create a lot of workshops [about] nutrition for people who can’t really afford or have access to all this information. Here in Mexico, diabetes is just like a pandemic too. This is our activism for life. It’s about the interconnectedness of everything, animals and people.