Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Reading Horoscopes with Aries

The sheer giddy pop force of Aries is undeniable, regardless of whether or not you can understand Spanish. For a band that’s as mystical as their astrological name might imply, the music is less of a psychedelic trance and more of a meditative celebration captivated by main songwriter Isabel Fernández’s fresh and colorful melodies and harmonies. The overall sound is so immediately contemporary, with subtle samples and just the right amount of echo creating a bright ambient aura, that you hardly notice the classical Spanish guitar and castanets backing it all up. It’s pretty impressive how Fernández is able to reinvent a traditional style and make it her own. What’s also impressive is how, along with her sister Virginia, just two people are able to make so many sounds, to incorporate so many instruments and effects.
Fernández’ last act was called Charades and she played with a full band. The music had a few more decorations and experiments, but Aries shows her progress as a songwriter, as she more tightly conducts pop and synthesizing styles. The Charades records, particularly Revolución Solar, are fun to explore if you like Aries.
THE BOMBER JACKET spoke with Aries about astrology, Spain and the band’s latest record, La Magia Bruta.

Stream a couple of songs from the album below:

TBJ: Why Aries? Did the band form during the sign’s birth dates?
Isabel Fernández: I spent some time using the name “Aries” in drawings, in collages…it was a name that I had in my head since that time.
I’m an Aries, my sister is an Aries rising. And yes, on my birthday I asked my sister if her gift could be recording new songs with me that we were doing. It was a great gift!
Are you big into astrology? Or does it influence the music at all?
I don’t think Astrology specifically influences a lot of my music, really. I love the world of magic, the occult sciences, esotericism…and also all of the iconography that surrounds those themes. I think that our society has an excess of rationalism. Personally, I like to pay attention to these types of things, even if it’s just for fun and to lighten things up a bit. Although, I also believe in science, the empirical methods, etc…and the doctors who save our lives [laughs].
Have you ever done Quija?
Yes, many times with my cousins. We talked to a lot of dead members of my family. But it’s been a long time since I’ve done it, or have wanted to do it!
So, are you both from Bilbao? What is the music scene like there or in northern Spain in general?
Yes, we’re from Bilbao…it’s a special city, full of honorable and elegant people. Musically, what’s biggest there is punk. Since the ‘80s, the Basque Country has had a big tradition for punk, thanks to great groups like Eskorbuto. Really, today there are various groups with many styles and they’re really good, like Atom Rumba or Positiva…but the bars and parties are mostly punk.
I just got back from Asturias and the lyrical rolling green hills and mountains up there are really amazing. Does the north of Spain influence your sound at all? Or any other part of the country?
I suppose that the place where you live and the people who you surround yourself with influence your music. The circumstances for each person are a strong influence. Now, I live in Vigo, which is in Galicia. It is in the north of Spain, but it’s really different than Bilbao. It’s like the Caribbean, but with cold water. For almost 10 years, I lived in Madrid, a big city, and the change has been very important for me. Now, I have a lot of peace, a good quality of life, and happiness. I suppose that in some ways it reflects in the songs.
I saw that you did a playlist recently for a site called MusicVictim. What can you tell me about your choices or influences?
I chose all of those women, because they are my favorite composers. The majority of them are great songwriters. They write incredible songs and are women that inspire me a lot. And some have been forgotten, or, I don’t know, nobody talks about Laura Nyro or Judee Sill.
Today, the music industry requires women to be beautiful and sexy…and before it was more about talent and the ability to compose.
It seems like your last band Charades was pretty well received. What can you tell me about the group or the switch to playing as Aries? What are the differences?
Playing in Charades was one of the best things that happened in my life and I have great memories. Although with Charades I composed a lot, we wrote all of the songs together. And the band had a normal arrangement of guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. Now I make songs alone and play almost all of the instruments, except for the songs that have drums that my sister plays. It’s a lot more dynamic and I have a lot more freedom. I do whatever comes to me, but now I don’t get to share my time and music with four friends.
So what does the title of your new record La Magia Bruta refer to? It seems like it could have a few meanings depending on the context that could be lost in translation.
I think it’s great that it has a lot of meanings…I prefer that each person interprets it however they want and make it their own, their own “magia bruta.”
To me, La Magia Bruta is the best that you can feel.
Watch the video for “Dilo Mañana” below:
Some things I’ve read say your music has a bit of philosophy to it. What ideas inform your lyrics?
My lyrics are really about my feelings and the things that I see and think. I suppose that every group has a philosophy, a way to see and act in life. I studied philosophy and I liked it. Charades had a song called “Hanna Arendt.” But, I don’t think that the lyrics are philosophical…anyways, “I only know that I know nothing.”
What can you tell me about your label, Bcore?
I’ve been working with them for a long time and I like it a lot. I depend on them and they’re really good to me. Anyways, I live Jordi, the owner of the label. He’s anti-social and you’ll never see him at “industry” parties or in meetings with those types of people.
I heard the record has some elaborate packaging. What sorts of things are inside?
Well, it’s elaborate because it took me three weeks to paint everything! It’s all handmade by me. The inside is like the outside, all tiny color rays and some cut out Egyptian pictures. The vinyl is transparent!
There are a lot of samples from nature on the record. Did you go out into the wild with a microphone to record them?
Some of them, yeah, but others I recorded with a video camera and later separated the audio.
There are a lot of sounds on the album for just two people to play. What’s your live set up like?
I have a sampler-sequencer and the bases pre-recorded. I also play the keyboard and guitar. Anyway, I do a majority of the songs differently on the album. It’s really chill and direct and I wish it were livelier.

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