RODRIGO Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero left Mexico City two decades ago looking for a brighter future in Europe.

From Ireland, they became music superstars playing a unique blend of rock with flamenco influences.

With an all-instrumental show, they fill up stadiums and just wowed Bluesfest audiences last weekend.

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But if you ask around in the streets of Latin America, not many people would know their names.

Just before his first Bluesfest show, we discussed this paradox with Rodrigo Sanchez.

GUITAR VIRTUOSOS: Rodrigo y Gabriela at Bluesfest 2015.
GUITAR VIRTUOSOS: Rodrigo y Gabriela at Bluesfest 2015. Lyn Mccarthy

"We don't play in South America and we barely play in Mexico," he said.

"First, because we started our career in Ireland, not in Mexico.

"Then, we played in the United States for the first time in 2007.

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"When we went to Mexico to play for the first time a lot of people though that we were Spanish!

"In Latin America there are not many spaces for alternative music. It is either Latin or commercial, and we don't fit either," he said.

The performers are used to taking artistic risks.

Their latest project is 9 Dead Alive (2014), a concept album where every song has been inspired by their personal heroes.

Instead of picking popular figures, their tributes went to nine relatively unknown people like Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky , Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, and Chilean Nobel Prize winner poet Gabriela Mistral.

"I came up with the concept of the album because I was reading a very good translation to Spanish of Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky," Sanchez said.

"We didn't want to point to the regular heroes like Ghandi, for instance.

"We wanted to focus on people who made big contributions to society but are not widely known, so people listening to our album would learn more about them."


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