Thursday, 21 December 2017

Interview with Me And The Bees

(This feature first appeared in issue #66 of Shindig! magazine. For the full unpublished interview click over the jump at the bottom of the post.)

Barcelona's lo-fi indie pop trio get set to spread the goodness. Duncan Fletcher picks up the positive vibes.

Most bands form not for money, fame or a blue tick, but for the pure reward of making music with friends. So it is with Me and The Bees. Bassist Esther Margarit, drummer Verónica Alonso and guitarist Carlos Leoz (all three share vocals) are set to release Menos Mal, their third LP since starting life as a duo in the MySpace era. Verónica explains - “Esther started the band with Eli Molina. Almost all the first record's songs were made in that time, but before recording I got asked to play a special concert. After that I was in the band. Two gigs later Carlos played with us and we never let him go. By the second album Eli left for her own project (Fighter Pillow - really good!) but we never let her go completely, she normally comes in the studio to make a collaboration or two. MATB is about friendships, how life makes them stronger by understanding, help and of course some small passionate fights along the way.”

Inspired by '60s girl pop and seminal '90s guitar bands Pavement, Guided By Voices and Teenage Fanclub, the band named themselves after a song by cuddlecore duo The Softies. Says Esther - “A friend recommended K Records, I fell in love with many bands on the label, one being The Softies.”

The band spent five days recording Menos Mal at Cal Pau Recordings studio, in its idyllic rural setting outside Barcelona. “Being there was magic” says Verónica, “you woke up and could see horses through your bedroom window.” “Almost paradise” agrees Esther. Spain's strength in nurturing indie-pop is not only due to weather and scenery as Carlos explains - “There's always been good independent bands to learn from... from your own city you could share feelings and fun with. Also many foreign bands tour here... learning how to do things independently of the commercial circuit. Hopefully this will continue till the end of time.”

Menos Mal is out now on La Castanya.

(Click over the jump for the full interview)

Answers from: Esther Margarit (bass, vocals), Verónica Alonso (drums, vocals) and Carlos Leoz (guitar, vocals)

Why do you think Spain continues to produce great indie-pop bands?

Verónica Alonso - I think it is also because there are good known music labels (La Castanya, Bcore, Famèlic...)that help the bands to be heard outside the country.

Esther Margarit - I'm agree with Verónica, a lot of record labels are helping bands inside and outside the country. Check El genio equivocado have great bands as Las Ruinas and Les Sueques.

Carlos Leoz - There have always been many good independent bands to learn from here in Spain. Bands from your own city that you could easily see countless times and share feelings and good fun with. Also the fact that many foreign great bands went on tour here, enjoying their stuff and learning how to do things independently of the commercial circuit. Hopefully this will continue till the end of the times, hahaha.

What's the indie scene like in Barcelona at the moment?

Verónica Alonso - It is healthy but I would like more bands! Girl bands, boys and girls bands, younger people bands, older people bands, whatever it is, but more!

Esther Margarit - It's really good, but we need more bands, more places to play and better conditions for musicians.

Carlos Leoz - I think it´s shiny nowadays, bands making different kind of music mixed up without complex. And yes, always in the need for more bands.

How did you all meet and what made you want to start a band?

Verónica Alonso - Esther started the band with Eli Molina almost all the songs in the first record were made in that time, but before we recorded it one day I got asked by the girls to play with them (we always ask friends to play in gigs with us we still do it)for a special concert and right after that I was included in the band. Two gigs later Carlos played with us and we never let him go. By the second album Eli decided to make her own project (now FIGHTERPILLOW, really good! Check it out!!) and leave the band, but we never let her go completely, and she normally comes in the studio make a collaboration or two. Me and the Bees is about friendships and how life makes them stronger by understanding, help and of course some small passion fights along the way?

Esther Margarit - Wow! Thanks Verónica!

Carlos Leoz - Verónica has described it very well! Jaja

You're named after a song by The Softies. How did you first come to hear their music?

Esther Margarit - Years ago, we listened to music in different ways: Magazines, TV, radio or my favorite, when a friend recommends you a band or a record label (normally with a mixtape). A friend of mine recommended me “K Records”, I fell in love with many bands of the record label, one of them was The Softies.

'21 32 45 69' is a great song, what's the inspiration behind it?

Esther Margarit - Carlotto have the answer! Hihihi

Carlos Leoz - First, thank you for the compliment! Second, okay Esther, I'll try to. Mmm, it was cool to make a theme straight from the chorus listing random ages where oneself can fall in love. That is, there is no age to fall in love I would like to think.

'True Bypass' will appeal to guitar geeks everywhere. What are your three must-have guitar pedals?

Verónica Alonso - Bass drum pedal?

Carlos Leoz - Double bass drum pedal! Okay, guitar pedals, hehe. A nice reverberation/echo, tremolo and probably a cheap fuzz.

When you first uploaded videos to MySpace back in 2008 did you think that almost a decade later you'd have made it this far and be on the verge of releasing your third album?

Esther Margarit - Hahaha! Not really. The truth, Eli and I uploaded videos singing or performing silly things just for fun. We were young, and myspace was full of life. Nowadays, we continued playing for fun but without myspace. :(

Your sound is rooted in melodic '60s pop and '90s indie. If we were to look through your record collection which items would surprise us the most? Any Techno or Death Metal in there?

Verónica Alonso - Definitely! I almost like any kind of good music! Younger me loved Slayer and still does, also I am completely obsessed with Frank Ocean, Beyoncé and Drake right now...

Esther Margarit - Verónica is my Techno and Carlotto my Death Metal.

Carlos Leoz - You nailed it. Death, thrash, grindcore are my roots i´m afraid. Hip hop too.

Cal Pau Recording studio looks an idyllic location. Can you tell us a little about recording there?

Verónica Alonso - Being there was as magic as it looks like. You woke up and could see the horses around through your bedroom window but especially sharing the experience with Joan Colomo and Dalmau Boada producing made the funniest and best times of our lives.

Esther Margarit - It's almost paradise.

Carlos Leoz - It is really! It was very relaxed although we did not have much time, 15 songs in 5 days. But it was enough thanks to the experience, magic and ability of Joan and Mau.

How was it working in the studio with Joan Colomo? What did you learn from him and how did he help shape the record?

Verónica Alonso - It was wonderful, we love him and we love Dalmau so it was PERFECTION. What I learnt from Joan? I have known him for so long now...16 years... so it gets deeper...I think I have learnt from Joan to be patient, nice with everybody and enjoy life a bit more no matter what.

Esther Margarit - Joan Colomo and Dalmau Boada are like superheroes, they have powers and a lot of tricks. It was really cool working with them! We are really good friends since long time ago, I have learnt a lot from them. The best thing for me is how they make you feel, they are "Good vibrations"

Carlos Leoz - Joan and Mau are like a little brother to me and also like an older brother too. I do not know if I explain it, haha. They are intelligent, funny, very talented, handsome. I keep on? Working with them is always a pleasure.

Which do enjoy best, recording in the studio or playing live gigs?

Verónica Alonso - The thing I enjoy most is rehearsing, I feel more comfortable so I guess the next I prefer is recording. Playing gigs is good fun too but less comfy haha.

Esther Margarit - I'm not sure, it depends on the day.

Carlos Leoz - I love both I had to say.

I've always like bands where each member steps up to take a lead vocal (The Beatles,  Teenage Fanclub etc.) Do you also share songwriting duties?v. Yes sure! If so how do the songs differ in relation to the writer/s?

Verónica Alonso - Normally Esther or Carlotto bring a lyric for a song and all together make some small changes to fit in the song itself better. But this time I made a lyric for a song! Guess which one?

Esther Margarit - I'm in love with TFC. ;)

Carlos Leoz - Yes, normally one of us bring a song or a melody or a lyric to start. Or just write the lyric for a specific song. It changes all the time I admit.

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