Here’s some insight into the wonderful world that we live. While perusing the internet, we came across some great music by a band called Boatlina. While we would have been content to find that this band was a solitary entity, we discovered that it was a collaboration between two bands. Last year, we interviewed the wonderful Boat Beam, who selflessly told us that we need to know more about their partners on the Boatlina project. They told us to expect Havalina to have a huge following in Spain and an amazing sound to their music. Little did we realize the epic sound that Havalina was crafting. America, we’re behind the curve on this one. Our newest writer Ravin did his homework, so that you could learn to share the love with…. Havalina.
TDOA: Generally, when Americans think of Spain, it’s things like siesta, flamenco dancing, bull-fighting, tomato throwing and Ibiza that come to mind– Essentially, scenes of celebration. With the exception of perhaps “Sueños de Esquimal” [Dreams of Eskimos], your new album feels decidedly non-celebratory. It’s gritty, it’s angst-y, it’s edgy, but most of all, it feels introspective and personal. Is there a darker side to life in Spain that elicits these types of emotions?
H: Yes, completely. All those things you mention don’t happen so usually in the common Spaniards’s life, and as you say, it is more what Americans (and not only Americans) see from the outside than what actually happens inside the borders of Spain. Besides, most of our lyrics talk about personal issues and in some way, everyone in every country and culture has personal issues to talk about.
TDOA: Can you talk a bit about your collaboration with Boat Beam?
H: Aurora Aroca (the only Spanish member in Boat Beam) and I have a strong and very deep, personal relationship. We met some years ago and since then, I think both of us have been a very important and unique person in the life of each other. I met Josephine Ayling in the summer of 08, because she was looking for someone to do the mastering of her yet unfinished album. I offered to not only doing the mastering, but also redoing the mixes and doing some extra recordings and production on some tracks, in order to get the best out of those marvelous songs and sounds. Literally, I fell in love with Boat Beam, and since then we have worked together on several projects: I do (when my agenda allows me to) the live sound of their live performances, recording some more new stuff and also this collaboration between my band; Havalina, and Boat Beam.
TDOA: You guys sing in Spanish, which we love. But have you ever felt pressure, either from yourselves or others, to sing in English?
H: It’s funny, because it actually has always been the opposite thing. Havalina started making music in 2001, but at that time, our name was Havalina Blu and we made music in English. After 5 years and 3 LPs, we decided to take a step forward and sing in our own language. Spanish is not as easy as English when we talk about, let’s say, alt-rock, but we had the feeling that doing this music in Spanish would give an extra feeling to our songs. Spanish people would feel them closer and we would manage a more personal sound.
As opposed to what happens in other countries, when we talk about Spain, singing in English and having success with it is much more difficult than singing in Spanish. I guess the main reason is that most Spanish people don’t use and don’t understand English.
TDOA: The level of musicianship in a lot of the Spanish bands we’ve been covering is remarkable. Not in terms of speed or theatrics, necessarily, but in terms of craft and sophistication. Does Spanish culture foster this? And do Spanish audiences expect their musicians to have a certain level of skill?
H: Except for some cases, we’ve been always somehow behind other countries in terms of quality in productions, live performances and so on. However, this is changing: year after year the quality of both mainstream and underground spanish bands is increasing. We’re slowly reaching out a certain level of skill and I’m glad you noticed this out.
I believe the increasing in quality is coming from musicians first, which day after day look inside and outside the borders of our countries and look for something new to implement in their sound. After that, audiences will expect more and more bands and artists to offer quality in their productions and live performances; so far, I feel this hasn’t happened yet, but it will, sooner or later.
TDOA: Let’s talk about your new album, Imperfección. Why the title and what’s up with the cats on the album cover?
H: Apart from being the name of one of our favourite songs from the album, Imperfección means the general concept of Human Imperfection: our passion, our will (or lazyness) to do things, our desire for validation from others, our desire for what we shouldn’t, etc. Basically, all those imperfect things that make us what we are.
The two cats in the album cover are Aurora Aroca’s cats. Besides the fact that I love cats and everything related to them (I also have two cats of my own) most of the songs in this album are related to a time in my life where Aurora was quite important, and thus most of the songs talk about her.
TDOA: Something I love about Imperfección is that it’s so damn EPIC. Here in America, there’s been a severe lack of fist-in-the-air rock ‘n’ roll in recent years, in favor of more low-key (and often contrived) “indie” music, get-rich-quick rap and cheesy electro-pop. Can the same be said of the Spanish music scene? Would you say your music a reaction to or an extension of popular taste?
H: Yes, that same thing you mention is what is happens here in Spain, and the main reason why Havalina isn’t so popular, but more loved among listeners like you, who appreciate rage and “epicness” in our music. And yes, our current style is an absolute reaction to that cheesy feeling all around: I kinda despise that, I admit that for a moment I’ve been sick of frivolity in the Spanish musical scene. That’s the reason we came up with this sound and all this epicness.
TDOA: President Obama is visiting Spain and the Spanish government asks you to play one of your new songs for him at a dinner held in his honor. Assuming there are no consequences, what song would you play?
H: This question is very interesting. Indeed, I have asked my bandmates about this and we all agreed to play Desinspiración, which is the largest, heaviest and most epic track in the album. I would like Obama to think that we Spaniards do great things, you know
TDOA: What are your impressions of Obama thusfar and how do you think people feel about him versus George Bush?
H: Honestly, I have no idea what to say or to think. I have no TV at home, I don’t watch the news and I don’t read any newspaper. My style of life is really centered around my music, my good and friends, my family and my cats. However, I do have an impression about what do people think about Obama and I would say he has created very good expectations, mainly due to the fact that George Bush has always had a very bad reputation. Now I guess it is his turn to satisfy such expectations.
TDOA: Has the band visited the U.S. before, either to play or as tourists? Do you plan on touring the U.S. in the near future?
H: If I recally correctly, Ignacio (bassist) has been touring the U.S. several times and he bought some of his gear in stores in N.Y. Besides that, Havalina hasn’t been there and unfortunately there are no plans or expectations of any tour in the U.S. Hopefully that should change anytime soon.
TDOA: Could you recommend some other bands in the local scene that our readers should check out immediately? We’ve covered Boat Beam already, so they’re disqualified.
H: Yes, of course! I will tell you about two Spanish bands of our scene that really rock: Nudozurdo, which is more rock-oriented, with very obscure lyrics and sounds, and Tulsa, which has released their new album (you can listen to them at their myspace site), which feels more introspective, but somehow obscure too and also has an “American” feeling in some of their arrangements. They both do very intense Spanish lyrics. I really appreciate them.
There is also a Spanish band named Standstill, which is one of my favs as well and it is well recognized as one of the greatest things in the national scene. They used to sing in English but some years ago they turned to Spanish and the result was brilliant. There are a huge number of interesting bands around, but I guess that is enough for now.
As referenced previously, Havalina collaborated with Boat Beam to create some memorable music. Here’s one video from that session.