or the strains of living in the present
What can I say about our next guest? He’s been singing and playing guitar in the band Ljubliana & The Seawolf for years, he’s known for his spiritual and explosive performances on stage… and now he takes on a new path. To me he is a friend, a band mate, an inspiration and a wonderful person, and I’ve been lucky enough to interview him about his newly persona and the release of his latest single, Colmena. Let’s give him a warm welcome. Pol Batlle, everybody!
photo by Marc Medina,
"I felt a need of exploring other worlds with artists that I profoundly admire".
After 8 years of writing songs and performing with the band Ljubliana & The Seawolf, you have decided to start releasing songs under your own name, Pol Batlle. How has the transition from one to the other been?
It has been an organic transformation. I think it’s just a change of shape, a sharper approach that will bring fresh air. In fact, I was used to compose all the songs then I brought them into rehearsal and finally I worked them out with Òscar Garrobé, Jaume Estalella and Adri Cubells. We were recording a new EP, actually. Our producer, Ander Agudo, came a few days in February and we spent them in Medusa Studio recording all the music. Then, I was meant to travel to New York and finish the vocals but the whole thing has been paused because of COVID… So I started recording new songs at my home studio.
In what way are the new upcoming songs you’re making different from before?
I am doing them at home, so I guess it breathes a unique sense of intimacy. The presence of synths, processed vocals, weird sounds recorded from daily life. We are using all we have at our fingertips!
"A need of placing myself in the Unknown".
Curiously enough, this has all happened during the coronavirus quarantine. Has being locked at home for a few months had any influence on your decision or was it something that was probably bound to happen anyway?
If you refer to the change of name, I don’t think it has anything to do with COVID, but only an ultimate trigger. It’s been something we’ve been wondering as an intention of getting rid of our rigid boundaries. I felt a need of exploring other worlds with artists that I profoundly admire such as Rita Payés or Kquimi Saigi. We’ve been always busy as hell but these days have been a great chance for getting closer, musically speaking.
Some of your later releases, first Tiempo (of the album Libra by Ljubliana & The Seawolf) and now Colmena are songs written in Spanish. Do you think that singing in other languages has affected your songwriting? Is it easier for you to write and sing in a language in particular?
Paradoxically, writing in English has been way easier for me. I spent part of my childhood listening Anglo-Saxon music but my parents also listened to all types of genres from flamenco to salsa, so I also listened to Spanish and Portuguese/Brazilian songs. I guess it’s something that’s emerging right now from inside of me… A need of placing myself in the Unknown.
"Politics, to me, means every attempt to communicate something to someone, and that is the point with art".
photo by Marc Medina,
Colmena contains very present electronic beats, synths and processed vocals but without losing your singular sort of nostalgic presence. How was the process of making Colmena and the collaboration with Kquimi Saigi like?
Kquimi had the instrumental part recorded and he thought of me as soon as he came out with the idea. Then I started writing the lyrics trying to give a sense to the structure. Finally, I added some glitched vocals. It’s been much more like a playground…
Frame from COLMENA,
design by Pau Aulí, @pauauli
You always have a strong visual presence whether it is on stage or on social media, and we’ve seen you work repeatedly with the artist and designer Pau Aulí. We were lucky to interview him for El Film Magazine, where he said that theatre, cinema and music are not just entertainment, but also politics. Do you agree with him? Is there a political statement behind your music or your image?
Yes, I obviously do agree with him. Politics, to me, means every attempt to communicate something to someone, and that is the point with art, to trigger a continuous transformation in truth’s research.
I don’t believe in music as mere entertainment. And that does not mean I don’t like to entertain myself… But music is a whole universe out there. A language that cannot be explained with words. Good medicine, when all we do is speaking and thinking. Our brain is a noisy engine!
"I think I just express my being with no complexities".
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing you for years both as a friend and as a musician on stage. After many concerts, we can affirm that there is a sort of, let’s say, transformation of your persona while performing. Why do you think that happens? Is it a conscious thing?
I think I just express my being with no complexities.It is not a conscious thing at all. I tried to find answers when people asked me about it. It could be because I have always been passionate about theatre and Clowning. I also loved controversial art and characters. For me it’s important to build a relationship with the audience. A gesture could mean everything!
How do you feel (or goes through your mind) when performing?
I dunno something like:
And after that I feel profoundly exhausted.
Trap. Yes or no?
Are you talking about the genre?
Are you talking about humanity and society?
Both are correct.
A song that describes you at the moment:
Mine describe my real self better than nothing. But if you mean a song I’m listening these days Cidade Nova from Edu Lobo.
What would be a perfect day for you?
The day that I won’t keep projecting perfection but I will be only present.
Interview by Gerard Vidal Barrena (The Bird Yellow)