Interview: Band à Part

Band À Part - Photo courtesy of Band à Part

Band à Part – Photo courtesy of Band à Part

When bands talk about how they met and made the decision to play together, often times it comes down to a single word: chemistry. Just as friendships and romantic relationships rely on these things, so too does a musical partnership. Luckily, in the case of Madrid-based duo, Band à Part, it was there from day one, literally.

As one half of the two, Javier Román, recalled, he met Coral Rodriguez when visiting her roommate – a friend of his – in Valencia.

“We started…talking about bands, songs…and we realized that we liked the same kind of music,” he said. “We finished that day playing guitar together, and then everything started.”

The two took their name from Jean-Luc Godard’s 1964 movie, “Bande à part.”

“We love the aesthetics of Godard’s films in that era,” Rodriguez explained. “And also their characters: carefree, [and] they do not take themselves too seriously.”

In the time since formation, Band à Part has released two 7-inches, each containing four tracks, on Elefant Records, with plans for a mini LP in the winter, also on the label.

Elefant Records, too, is based in Madrid, making it a premiere label for indie pop and twee bands within the country. Because of this, Román and Rodriguez don’t feel too out of place in the scene musically, although they did admit that it varies.

“Nowadays in Spain there are a lot of indie pop bands, but most of them have an obscure and introspective sound, not like us,” Román shared. “It isn´t [usual to] make openly optimist songs in our country. We think they are afraid to seem too naïve or old fashioned.”

Yet its this same sugary-sweet, heart-on-sleeve attitude that the band feels gives them an advantage with fans in other countries, such as Mexico, England, and Japan.

“Our [songs] talk about love, or [lovelessness] in one way or another,” Román said. “We are inspired by small everyday disasters seen from a positive perspective and most of the time with a bit of…humor.”

To non-Spanish speakers, this might not be so apparent, as Band à Part opts to pen lyrics in Spanish, in spite of Román’s recognition that English is often considered the language of pop music.

“We…never [even considered] other languages because Spanish is our tongue,” he said. “[It’s] the only in which we can express ourselves fully.”

Still, in spite of this, the two admitted that writing lyrics is the biggest struggle they face, as most everything else in the band – from writing the music to booking shows – comes easily.

That’s not to say that melody itself isn’t problematic, because that too can evade the members. But that’s perhaps because the two are what Rodriguez described: perfectionists.

“We spend hours and hours recording and mixing because we are not entirely satisfied,” she said. “But at last we always find a sound very similar to the one we are looking for. In our new work, we want every song in a different style, always within our own sound.”

And in addition to writing a song and knowing when it’s complete, there is always the tricky task of playing live; Band à Part sometimes plays with a full band, and other times with just the two, making it necessary to have a variety of live setups. The former involves the standard instruments, as well as drums, violin, and trumpet, while the latter entails Román on guitar and synthesizer, and Rodriguez on ukulele, guitar, glockenspiel, tambourine, and computer-based launch drums and bass.

And this summer, the two bring their live setup – the two-man-band version – to Berlin for the first time ever.

“We [have] never been in Berlin before and we are really looking forward it,” Rodriguez said. “It´s a city known here as a very cultural and modern capital in Europe…we hope [to] have a pretty good time there.”

Band à Part plays tonight at Roter Salon in Berlin as part of Popfest Berlin 2012. The show begins at 19.00.

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