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15 abril 2024

Juan Capilla: “Spain is the first magic power in the world”

Juan Capilla is part of this lineage of magicians who take care to detail their modern aesthetics and opt more for the nickname of illusionist. To the general public he may remind them of the famous saga Now You See Me rather than Harry Potter. The qualifier of magician does not like so much because “to say that I have powers”.

He has explored many paths of this discipline, some more unknown like corporate shows or selling tricks to everyone. In an interview with Go Aragon, Juan Capilla explains his international career and the high esteem in which Spanish magic is held worldwide.

To get to where you are now, which illusionists have you looked up to?

My main reference is a man called David Blaine. Thanks to him, I am a magician, because one day I was watching TV, there happened to be a show of his and I was amazed. As a result of this, from then until now I have not been able to stop thinking about magic for a single day.

At what age was that?

Fourteen years old.

How did you start to learn it?

The good thing about our generations that didn’t have older people is that today with the Internet it’s much easier, and today much more so than when I started. There was the Internet, but it wasn’t today’s boom of social networks. I think that as it starts all over the world: a little bit at home, Youtube, searching in some forum…

I think that if you like this little world, magic is like a mosquito that bites you and you can’t stop thinking. In my case, I started to meet magicians from Zaragoza and to get together with them. Suddenly I made a trip to a town where there was a festival, and you meet magicians from Barcelona and Madrid. Little by little, that will make you be in an environment in which you finally end up becoming a professional.


In this learning process, how did you decide to do magic with everyday objects?

Always the cliché of the magician is the typical magician with a hat and cards. If you see my aesthetics, I am completely the opposite. So, I have always liked to do magic with objects that the spectator can recognize, because I feel that he experiences it more real, because he knows that object. He has had it in his hands.

If I suddenly bring out a strange magician’s object, even though the magic may be good and people don’t know how it works, I always see that distrust from the audience. Taking advantage of my modern aesthetic, I try to do magic with things that everyone recognizes.

Looking at your networks and your performances, you also give importance to that more modern aesthetic. Do you think magicians are adapting to that or does the wand and hat magician still exist?

It still exists, it’s cool that it exists and there are magicians who are great with that aesthetic. This is not a criticism at all, but it is true that little by little many people are working this kind of aesthetic of the modern magician or the illusionist magician of movies like Ahora me ves. They are going for that kind of magician who is out of those established canons of magic, but there are still some very classic magicians who are great.

Moving on to your career outside Aragón and Spain, you were recently in France performing. How did the opportunity arise?

There is a huge world that nobody can imagine from the outside, because, for example, to learn a magic effect, you have to buy a book or a DVD that explains it, right? But in order to be able to buy that and understand it, there is someone who has created it and marketed it.

In all this little world there is like a very big and very powerful society of companies because, although the niche is closed because there are not many people compared to other artistic branches or other professions, there is a very active public that loves it and buys a lot.

So, professionally, apart from acting, I dedicate myself to this more creative side of thinking up new ideas and marketing them. There are a lot of companies and I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the top companies in the world.

The one in France was with one of these companies that is from Los Angeles, and they have people working in England as well. They gathered nine magicians from all over the world and we went to a house in France to think about projects, new reactions…, everything focused on this world of selling magic.

Juan Capilla
How was that experience?

It was great. I was excited because when I was fifteen – sixteen years old and I was already a little more into the world, these people already existed. I saw from my couch at home that ten people were getting together in Los Angeles in a house just to create and have fun.

The other day I was there. For me it’s a dream unlocked. I was at home at the age of fifteen, sitting on my couch going, “Wow, how can you work with these people? But in the end the secret is to work day by day and focus, and finally there I was.

On your Instagram I have recently seen that you have collaborated with the brand Ellusionist. Is it one of these companies you are talking about?

Yes. If you want to learn magic, you have to buy your book, you have to study? Before there were only books, now there are DVDs. You even get a QR and from there you enter a video with a password. It is a company dedicated to train magicians. Right now I have many performances and many projects of me as a performer, but I am also lucky to have many projects of this type.

“HERE IN SPAIN WE THINK ABOUT THE EFFECT BUT ALSO ABOUT WHAT’S BEHIND IT: WHAT DO WE WANT THE SPECTATOR TO EXPERIENCE? WHY THIS OBJECT AND NOT ANOTHER ONE? WHY BRING IT OUT IN THIS WAY?”

And what other projects have you been able to do outside Spain?

Two years ago I was giving a lecture with a great friend and great magician at the world’s largest magic congress in Blackpool. We were also in the United States recording magic with a different company. In August we are going to Las Vegas to give lectures as well, and at the end of my day to day international work is with projects to sell tricks.

I collaborate with three or four companies. Now, the ones I’m with the most is Ellusionist, but I work with more people. So, I have a project with these, I have two with these others, one who is recording me on his own in Taiwan, and while I’m with I don’t know what. It’s kind of weird.

You’ve met different magicians from different places, is there a difference between a magician from one country or another, or is it more or less universal?

For example, people who are not in the magic world don’t know that Spain is the first magic power in the world. It is amazing when, for example, when we are in the United States. Just for saying that we were Spanish, they told us: “Ah, ok, come here. Show me something. They have a preconceived image that the magic of Spain is the best.

In Spain you can tell that we ask ourselves a lot of questions: “I take this out, but why or why do I put it here? What do I want to transmit and what do I want to tell?”. And, for example, an American is more direct. He thinks more about the effect. Here in Spain we think about the effect but also about what’s behind it: What do we want the spectator to experience? Why this object and not another one? Why take it out in this way?

Everything is more studied and more communicational, not so much grandiose. It is also true that nowadays with social networks you can find people from all over the world with this philosophy, but it is true that Spain is known for that. There are Spanish magicians who are the best in the world. There are people who travel all over the world and it is because of the fame of Spanish magic and for being very good.

Juan Capilla
Names for those who know less?

For example, apart from a great friend, Mario Lopez, who is incredible and right now is one of the most hired magicians in the world and one of the most traveled. Another Spaniard is Daniel Ortiz, the best card magician in the world. This guy travels around the world with a deck of cards in his pocket, and wherever he goes he is a hit all over the world, from China to Brazil or even the United States.

How do you coexist with the language difference?

We defend ourselves in English. It’s a pity, because as I explain myself in Spanish, I can’t explain myself in English. Little by little I have overcome the fear of speaking to an audience in English, but the first few times I remember myself in a big recording studio in the United States, with five people telling me “Go” and I had to start. It was like “oysters, what am I doing here”.

And a little bit bringing it here to Zaragoza, you teach and perform in the Magic Basement Sótano Mágico ?

Exactly, yes, I teach courses at the Sótano, and in the basement there is a magic program that is brutal. The best magicians in the world pass through there. You may say this sounds a bit click bait but it’s really true. I do perform from time to time.

Do you think it is sufficiently known by the people here in Zaragoza?

I think it is known and, above all, the audience that comes loves it and repeats. Many people come for the first time, but there is a large audience of people who say they have had a great time and come back four or five times a year. That day they plan to go to dinner and then to the Sótano.

I think it could be known more by the people. We’re very happy, but there are times when it hasn’t been full. I say: “Wow, with how cool this has been and I feel sorry for the people because it’s incredible and the entrance fee is just ten euros, which is nothing”. Elena and Pepín, who are the owners, do a tremendous job to keep it active and to get people to go, and they succeed.

How do you see the panorama in Aragón and is there interest in magic?

I am very happy. Now there is one thing in which I am becoming more professional, which is to work as a communicator in corporate events, always using magic and humor as a common thread. Companies hire my services if they need, for example, to present a product to their potential customers. I have worked a lot with ZCB (Zaragoza Congresos). They have trusted me to present their new dossier.

We have traveled around cities trying to sell Zaragoza to businessmen, for example, from Bilbao, Madrid, Barcelona, so that they think of Zaragoza as a destination to create their events. This is because Zaragoza is in a very interesting situation in the national panorama: very well connected with Madrid and Barcelona, the AVE, the prices are super-competitive -you can spend less than in Madrid, for example, but get the same quality-….


My task was to tell that story in a fun and surprising way using magic and comedy, but being clear about what we wanted to convey. So, I do that a lot now, and people are really interested. A lot of companies ask me. Some come out and some don’t. I do feel interest.

The city council programs magic and many towns also hire magic. You feel that they like it and that they are happy. They call me saying: “A magician came last year, we would love to repeat with another magician and he has recommended us to you”.

When a company approaches you and tells you about their product, how do you think about that show to combine it with your magic?

Companies are interested in doing a corporate show. Imagine, if you want to present your new sneaker, well, I think and create magic to present your new sneaker. As I come from the world of selling magic and creating new magic, my day to day is always to challenge myself and I love being able to offer a company a magic that is designed for them.

If, for example, you want to present your sneaker, how cool would it be to have the sneaker appear in the empty box; or if you want to present different models, how cool would it be to throw the sneaker in the air, it would change color and the second model would already be there. It’s complicated for me, because it’s not my magic bolus that I just grab my stuff, go and that’s it; it requires me to do some thinking, but the truth is that I love it.

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