Marcus Nand has led an extraordinary life. From his birth in England to his guitar apprenticeship among Spanish gypsies, his forays with rock bands from Madrid to Los Angeles, his work with electronic music, and his current project as a singer/songwriter, he brings unique inspiration and experience to everything he does. Deep strains of culture from India to northern England and southern Spain run in his blood, as does a passion for the culture and history carried in the music he loves. Nand is an explosively talented guitarist, a soulful singer, and a reflective songwriter who draws his lyrics not from imagination, but personal experience, as he puts it: “I have lived every word.”
Nand’s boyhood move from Liverpool, England, to Fuengirola, Spain, became a journey of discovery. His Fiji born Indian father had been a lightweight champion boxer in Fiji, and then moved to England to start a family. While scouting for work in Spain, he picked up a guitar and presented his son, just 6-years-old at the time, with his first axe. Nand grew up at a distance from the classical Indian musicians in his father’s family in Fiji, but all these connections came to the fore in Spain, where gypsies felt an instant affinity with a young guitar player of Indian descent, for gypsies also trace their roots to north India.
In Fuengirola, Nand was welcomed at family gatherings among the local gypsies. He’d already fallen for rock and blues, but when he heard gypsies on guitar, he experienced flamenco’s “real deal.” Nand recalls, “It made me feel exactly the same way as when you see a very exciting rock guitarist. There was that same urgency, and weight.” Nand began picking up pieces and techniques from a gypsy blacksmith and brilliant flamenco guitarist named Sebastian Cortes Reyes. Though Nand left Spain for Los Angeles in 1990, he still returns to visit Sebastian and his family at the foundry in Fuengirola, and these days, Nand holds his own when the guitars come out.
Nand was just 14 when he debuted on stage with a Spanish heavy metal band. In LA, he joined Mike Tramp’s Freak of Nature, and they toured Europe in the early ‘90s. He then returned to Spain to work more on flamenco and develop his songwriting skills. Back in LA in 1997, he teamed up with bass man Carmine Rojas to form the band Ziroq, his first effort to marry his passions for flamenco and rock. The band consisted of Carmine Rojas on bass (David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Joe Bonamassa), Tal Bergman on drums/percussion (Billy Idol, Joe Zawinal, Loreena McKennit, Joe Bonamassa), J’Anna Jacoby on violin (Rod Stewart, Tony Bennett, Michael Crawford, Glen Campbell). Together they produced a critically acclaimed 2001 CD, and performed regularly on the west coast.
With Ziroq, Nand sang leads in Spanish and English, and began to think more as a singer. “Every day, I’m more involved with the voice,” says Nand again citing the lessons of flamenco. “The magic of the flamenco guitar is not the virtuoso soloist, but when he follows a singer. It’s the spontaneity and precision of how the guitarist shadows the vocal rhythmically and melodically.” One critic described Nand’s playing as, “Passionate. Dangerous. Rootsy.” It is also virtuoso, liberated, and deeply informed by one of the most visceral guitar traditions the world has seen.
Since the years of Ziroq, Nand has continued to grow artistically and professionally. He’s become an accomplished electronic music programmer. He has performed and recorded on guitar with Mexican-based, husband-and-wife Latin music stars Diego Verdaguer and Amanda Miguel, and serves as musical director for their rising star daughter Ana Victoria. Most recently Nand recorded with Rod Stewart for his upcoming new release.
Nand’s current work is the most fully integrated expression of his diverse experiences to date. His song “Perfect World” is a fine example, muscular and passionate, a richly satisfying tapestry of acoustic and electric guitar sounds backing a husky vocal that bridges the heartbreak of flamenco singing with the hopeful uplift of anthem rock. “This is the first time I’ve really been able to combine all the influences in one project—flamenco arpeggios with a big, fat electric guitar behind it.” Nand still creates his songs with just his nylon-string guitar, and they can always be stripped back down to that simple format. But in the studio, he frees his imagination—“no holds barred”—to create richly elaborated soundscapes, at once extravagant and deeply personal, flowering trees grown from the seeds of a singular musical life.
Aside from his own projects, Nand’s recording credits include Guitar Masters Vol 1 (featuring Jeff Beck, John Paul Jones, Joe Satriani, and Allan Holdsworth), Bozzio, Levin and Stevens’ Situation Dangerous, and Fredericksen/Phillips (featuring Allan White of Yes and Dean Costronovo of Journey). Nand’s songs have also appeared on two compilations, Siddharta – Spirit of Buddha Bar, Putumayo’s Rumba Flamenco, and Mondo Melodia’s Desert Roses and Arabian Rhythms, Volume 2. Nand has performed all over the world including solo performances at the Palais Des Festivals in Cannes and the Royal Albert Hall in London as part of a 2005 flamenco summit for Save the Children.