We reached Jaime Camil in Los Angeles.
<strong>Q: In the States, mariachi bands are used as kind of a punch-line, a musical joke. What about in Mexico? </strong>
<strong> A:</strong> People in the U.S. or other countries hear mariachi and they think it's time to break out the tequila. 'Get wasted! Hey boys, play 'The Macarena!' Mariachis don't do 'La Macarena.' It's hilarious. 'La Bamba,' yes. 'Macarena,' no.
Mariachi IS Mexico. Look at the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, black-and-white films with Jorge Negrete, Agustin Lara or Maria Felix, the beautiful musical movies we used to make, you realize it has this long and honorable musical tradition.
<strong>Q: Nobody can fall in love in Mexico without mariachis, right? </strong>
<strong> A:</strong> Oh, from Quincea?ra (sweet 15) parties to serenading a woman outside her window, you want to win the heart of a lady, you need mariachis. There's a plaza in Mexico City — Plaza Garibaldi. On Friday on Saturday night, if you've had a fight with your girlfriend, you can drive by Garibaldi where mariachi bands are giving out cards. 'I need a serenade. Come on, guys!' They pile into your car, or follow you in their van, and they help you out. We had to show that in 'Pulling Strings.' A band, on the street, for hire — rescuing romance. What woman wouldn't forgive you if you brought a band to serenade her?
<strong>Q: You're not a mariachi singer. What was it like to put on 'the uniform?'</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> You put on the mariachi's suit and you feel like a superhero, empowered, like putting on Superman's cape. You have the power to make people fall in love. I feel honored to represent my country in the most iconic way a Mexican can - as a mariachi.
<strong>Q: And the singing style, how much of an adjustment for you? </strong>
<strong> A:</strong> All these years I've been a singer, and I never realized that mariachis don't have to shout above the music, don't have to scream. Sometimes, all it takes is a whisper. They caress the songs.