Nubes En Mi Casa play beautiful pop music sung in Spanish. Here is our Email interview- for anyone interested in music from Argentina.
Their music is at nubesenmicasa.bandcamp.com
Hello Hernan, Hugo and Josephina!
It was so nice to hang out with you at Ester’s Follies. I told you I’d like to conduct an email interview. I think that is the best way, because then you are free to take your time on your responses. Also I know English isn’t your first language, if any of my questions confuse you, I can explain further.
It would be great if several members of the band could answer these questions, and then indicate who said what. I wont edit your responses to correct them into americanized English. Don’t get too stressed about answering anything, especially If a question makes you feel uncomfortable, you can just say “pass.”
I may have gone overboard! One artist I wanted to interview said “too many questions!” and never answered any of them!
I thought this interview would be interesting to anyone who is looking into coming to America to play music. Many probably wonder if SXSW is the best avenue for exposure. My questions are in Italics.
I don’t understand any words on your album at all, but I love it for its melodies! its playful, sweet, compelling and very fun. Are you singing about love? My favorite song is Aceleremos. What is that song about?
Josephina: ‘Aceleremos’ is about…love?
Hernan: I don’t know exactly if we sing about love, maybe is about the situations caused by love or the lack of it; but we don’t focus on a specific theme intentionally.
Josefina: For me it’s complicated to write in 3rd person (or I have to think a lot), that’s why on the result of the song you can find that personal mishmash caused by the different situations of life, I guess that the ones represented by love are the most universals.
I enjoyed the music video for Cuerpo. Is there television opportunities for your music locally? Or is that video primarily for web access? The video seemed to be about a girl looking for something. It was not plot driven, but her whimsical looks and curiosity was the focus of the film.
Hernan: Not for now, we would like to find benefit on the TV platform, it’s a good spot for promotion; these days we are sending the video to several channels. Meanwhile, Youtube still being the most accessible media.
Josefina: I don’t use to search for information on TV, specially musical. I think it would be good to have your video rolling and maybe get to unexpected audiences but I don’t know how much that would help exactly. I trust more in Youtube, blogs, websites, etc…
Keyboards play a cool role in your album, adding flourishes and extra layers. Do you have a favorite synthesizer? Do you use vintage gear or modern? Computer programs or real hardware?
Hernan: We don’t know if it’s our favourite synth but we use a Moog Prodigy for recording cause we like that sound, there’s infinity of keyboards and synths we would like to have but we can’t haha. Anyway, there are some good emulations by software and the hand of our producer to make ‘em sound as they should. For live shows we use a Crumar Performer, a Microkorg XL and a Meazzi combo organ. In the studio we use both hardware and software.
You said you weren’t familiar with the term “shoe gazer.” I’m no connoisseur, but I think the term is associated with combining loud and pretty- the guitars tend to be very loud, there tends to be lots of reverb on everything, drums and vocals included.
Chimes, bells, glockenspiels and synths set to “pretty” tones often augment the loudness. It was said that earlier performers in the genre were less than dynamic and merely stared at their own shoes through their performances.
Sometimes your band sounds like Stereolab, especially “Los Gigantes.”
Have you heard of School of Seven Bells? You might like them. I listen to them all the time.
Significant contributors to the shoegaze subgenera are My Bloody Valentine, Asobi Seksu, Spiritualized, Lush, Cacteau Twins.
What are you listening to RIGHT now! What is the most recent cd in your cd player or song on your Spotify history. (or whatever you use)
Hernan: In my phone there are now a lot of albums but i always listen to no more than 5. These days i’m listening to The Terror by The Flaming Lips, Roy Orbison, Marc Bolan, Asha Puthli and Zafer Dilek.
Awesome, Great to hear that people listen to Asha Puthli.
Josefina: Right now? let me see…Melody’s Echo Chamber, Jason Lytle and the always beloved Nick Cave.
Hugo: These days: Francisca & Los Exploradores, El Mato a un Policía Motorizado, Menomena and Sigur Ros. Next week could be TOTALLY different.
Your album is so beautiful. Could you tell me a bit about the story of recording this album? where was it recorded? I can imagine it was recorded with large glass windows with jungles and wildlife on the other side, but maybe you just have the sunshine and verve of Argentina in your souls and it was actually recorded in a basement in a dense city! Who was your recording engineer and who mastered it? Were these expenses paid out of pocket or by a label? Were these songs “field” tested through years of live performance and then taken down as a documentation, or were they developed in the studio and then you had to teach yourself to make a live “version” to play at shows?
Hernan:The album was made in Daktari which is the studio owned by Josefina’s brother, Norman, who also recorded, mixed and mastered it. Daktari is a handmade home studio with no windows but extremely inspiring to focus on creation. The album was 100% our investment, and the songs were recorded in demos before going to the studio. Some of them are really old (Josefina has several songs lost in her subconscious) but they were never tested live except for Cuerpo which has been transformed exceptionally.
You said the band name was from a song by a metal band?
I told you it made me think of the film “the Science of Sleep” by Michel Gondry. I think that movie had clouds inside someone’s house. Now I’m not sure.
Hernan: The name of the band refers to a song title from a canadian thrash metal band called Voivod. I was a fan during school days :)
You said you learned English from US TV shows. What shows do you like? What shows are out there spreading American Culture. I hope its quality stuff and not, Honey Boo Boo? Are there some aspects of US tv shows that confuse you or repulse you? I am always interested in other people’s impressions of us. We aren’t like what you see on TV!
Hugo: Mostly Seinfeld or some random movies and documentaries on cable channels.
Hernan: Honestly, we don’t watch too much tv and when we do, we try to watch things that don’t “repulse” us but things for entertain or just kill time.
Josefina: I’ve learned English in elementary school and misslearned (sic) in high school. Of course americans are not like in TV, I’m sorry to tell you my dear Isaac that I didn’t find a lot of similaritaries between you and Mr. Homer Simpson. There are indeed some crazy stuff, really American, which would never work in Argentina, like dressing like The Hulk and get people to give their dollars for taking a picture together or the “voluntary payment” pedicabs, etc…
Hugo: I think one of the aspects that people here will find “repulsive” it’s the attitude of that guy that you probable don’t remember, but he called you “Hey! James Hetfield!” When we were seeing the last band playing that night. He was a bit drunk but he was talking to us and saying that he was going to visit Buenos Aires soon for a wedding …then he realized that he confused Buenos Aires with Sao Paulo (!?) and ended up wondering “Am I gonna get shot there?” (literally), and on the inside I thought “well, probably, if you keep saying those things.”
Have you noticed more US interest since your performances in SXSW? have there been reviews of your album? Mentions on blogs?
Have you been interviewed any US publications?
Were you treated well by the people at SXSW?
Did you personally submit to play a showcase? Were you encouraged to by a label?
Hernan: (The) SXSW experience was highly gratifying, it was like vacations in a music world, we’ve been well treated by the people and the media and gave some interviews. We would like to go back next year to repeat the experience. We personally submit to play a showcase.
Hugo: Since we’ve confirmed our presence in the festival, and before we travel, there were some mentions about our music in blogs and websites from U.S. Even nowadays still are. Most of the interest came from Latin-American people living there, but we also could connect somehow with people who doesn’t know a single word of Spanish or barely know something about where we come from. Everybody in Austin treated us really well, they were super friendly and kind.
You said that the Argentina Government didn’t help at all in getting you there, but they were eager to “show you off” once you got here and waved the flag. I was under the impression that the governments of some countries helped pay for the travel of their artists out of the country to the state to increase tourism- but maybe I was being naive. I went to several parties- the Ireland party, the Japan day party, and a previous year I went to a New Zealand show. I think Canada’s government helps recording and touring musicians… I also think that musicians in Norway and Sweden get grants from the government. I should really research this more before I go publishing it as if I am a journalist, huh?
Where have you played shows? I think you said these were the first shows in the states. Do you play in Brazil? Uruguay? Chile? Bolivia?
Hugo: Yes, it was our first time in the US. We’ve just played once in Montevideo, Uruguay. We would like to travel much more than we actually do, but is always a matter of money. If everything turns out as we planned, we will visit Mexico for the first time, probably in November. I think that even though electronic music and DJs are VERY popular here, they are not more popular than live music, which is in certain cases, massive. Still, for underground live acts, here is the same as you say regarding club owners and their denial for paying musicians.
I really have no idea about what it is like there. I imagine like in the states there are highways connecting the major cities and that there are young people eager to see live music. Is electronica and DJ music more popular in Buenos Aires than live bands?
Here it seems the industry is cutthroat, with so many bands competing for attention, and the venue owners say, “we don’t do bands anymore… they all want to be paid, and we can’t afford it,” or “we make more with Karaoke or a jukebox than with live entertainment.”
I did a google search for Argentina festival and I found Quilmes.
The lineup lists several of the acts that are most popular in the states right now
Pearl Jam (these guys are kind of old fogies at this point. People I know liked them 12 years ago…)
The Black Keys ( Of course, some would dismiss this group as old fogies, or claim “white people can’t play the blues,” but I love this band, I even played in a Black Keys cover band. I got to see them once at Bumbershoot in Seattle)
Alabama Shakes (this band is really getting huge, in just the past year! Playing at the Grammys and playing in stadiums! Its pretty incredible, but a good example that uniquely talented people can get lucky and succeed in the music business.)
Queens of the Stone Age
Passion Pit (seems pretty boring disco to me but for some reason they are pretty popular).
And then about 40 bands with Spanish names, none of which I have heard of. I see Sepultura is playing a festival in October in your neighborhood.
Do you go to these big festivals? do you have friends in the bands playing? is this out of reach for most local Argentina bands? Do the bands playing at Quilmes come from all over South America? Mexico? Spain?
Hugo: We don’t usually go to those festivals. Tickets use to be very expensive and it’s management sometimes is awful. Yes, we have several friends in bands that play there. Yes, it’s quite difficult to get your band to play there if you don’t have a persistent manager. Most of international bands playing are from US or England. There are a few Latin American bands sometimes but usually they don’t play on main schedules or leading the night. Actually I don’t think you have to be a total ROCKSTAR to play here, I’ve heard of some shows of American (probably not SO) underground bands. I think most of those cases are self-managed tourings .
I bet underground or small acts from the states never tour to Argentina. It seems so far away! Does a band have to be rock stars before they start coming to play there, and only play in Arenas? Two of my favorite bands have played in Argentina in the past 10 years, The Bad Plus and Medeski Martin and Wood. Are audiences there hungry for US american music?
Hugo: Well, United states is still homeland of most of the worldwide popular bands, so I can say that Yes, people here likes music from US as I think, most of countries from occident. (sic?)
I sought out your show merely because you were from Argentina- and then was impressed with it. I am a Francophile, Anglophile, Brazilophile (is that a term?) and just generally love the art and music of foreign cultures. I said to myself “Well if they came all the way here they must be good!”
Do you think Local Argentinians would think the same of a US American band on tour there?
Hugo: Well that’s hard to answer. But I think it’s the same here. Just because a band comes from far away, it will at least catch your attention.
The music from your neck of the woods that most Americans are familiar with is Bosso Nova and Os Mutantes. (Both Brazil, I know) Stan Getz and Astrid Gilberto helped put the music of Antonio Calros Jobim on the map and in our elevators… I personally love the music of Gilberto and think he was a genius. “Girl from Ipanema” has appeared in countless films, it has become a cliche and a joke. It is synonymous with elevator music.” Some people have the immediate reaction to turn the radio off the first familiar notes. Tom Waits said once that his fear was that he would be killed by a saxophonist in a case of being “Girl from Ipanema-ed” to death .
I know that’s from Brazil, but do you have a similar tradition of jazz combined with local rhythms and percussion? Does it have a name?
Hugo: Well, i think in our case that would be Astor Piazzolla’s music, which you know and like!
Os Mutantes still have a loyal following in the states. I adore a Brazilian band called Pato Fu. Once I was talking to some French kids and asked them if they liked Ye-ye music. They said no! it was tacky and old fashioned and said none of the youth culture like Ye-ye anymore. I was embarrassed. ( but I still think ye-ye music is cool.)
Is your music considered “western” in your community, I mean is it considered an imitation of British or US American rock and roll? Do some snobs dismiss pop music like yours as not authentic or not Argentinian?
I think its great that you sing in your native language. Were there any pressures to record versions in English? Would you ever write songs in English?
Hernan: No, at least no one let us know about that, sometimes that happens with bands that doesn’t sing in spanish. Maybe Argentina it’s a little different from the rest of Latin America because of European immigration, but people here do feel the language (the lyrics) and sometimes they need to know what they ‘re saying as it might be understandable as an acting of that. No one ever ask us to sing in English, I think here it might work the other way around.
The Italian band that played the same night as you told me they felt that crowds would like an American Band singing in English, but because they sang in English, the audience were disappointed. As if they were poseurs or an imitation. The Beatles of course recorded German versions of some of their early hits. I like to hear bands from foreign countries sing in their native tongues. I’ve always wondered by Bjork doesn’t sing more songs in icelandic? Her album “Gling Glo” is really fun, but she did that early in her career.
Supposedly the playwright Sam Beckett would write in French (not his native language) to force himself to write in simple sentences. I wonder how your music would sound if you sang in English. Japanese songs often have English phrases or words that the songwriter thought sounded cool- but they can be pronounced so strangely they don’t register as English in our ear. There was a Japanese Ska band called “Potshot,” who I am thinking of. There is a song by Bonnie Pink (Last Kiss) Where she says, “its bitter, like beer for kids.” which cracks me up, it sounds so awkward.
Hugo: Although our music is clearly not authentically Argentinean, here we have an long rock/pop history sung in Spanish, from late 60s there were millions of very good rock bands, so one can talk about the existence of “argentinean rock” since those years. I think that’s why nobody ever dismisses ours or other Argentinean band’s music because it’s sung in Spanish, even it’s not native music.
My questions were rambling and long but you guys did a great job answering them. I fixed only a few little spelling things, and left grammar as it was to convey the authentic experience of speaking to these charming musicians. Their music is beautiful, experience it for yourself!
Thank you Hugo, Josephina and Hernan!
Photo: Claudia Ochoa @ SXSW 2013, Esther’s Follies, Austin, Tx