My Expansive Awareness
Nowadays some call it neopsych, some see a new resurgence and some believe that it never left. With regard to Spain, there is no doubt that My Expansive Awareness are currently one of the most recognizable and active faces of this movement.
We're talking about psychedelia and what is clear is that we're living and enjoying a moment when you can find more and more music with this essence in the title of many festivals and events. My Expansive Awareness, since being with their label and agency Analog Love, have pumped life into the musical scene of their city Zaragoza and also Madrid, creating the most interesting Iberian psychedelia on vinyl.
1/ In every music genre there are always bands that are just a simple copy of another band, and instead of going one step further in the search for a unique sound, they just limit themselves to sound like others do. This is not your case, since despite having influences from bands from half a century ago, you deliver a fresh sound with its own personality. In your opinion, what is what differentiates you from other bands? What personal contribution would you say you make to the music or scene you are involved in?
We always try to do something special, something ours but that at the same time is from everyone else, but there are no books that teach us how to it... Who are we? Why are we here? What do we want? Maybe, what differentiates us from other bands are our songs and the fact that they have all have been made by us and by no one else. Maybe it's not not easy to understand, but what we want to say is that we embody our experiences and emotions in the music we play, based on everything we've heard before and learnt through the years, and are always trying to go beyond what is obvious and superficial. Anyway, we still have a long way ahead in order to find our true and authentic sound, if that's even possible...
2/ Your latest single, which was published two weeks ago, was recorded completely in analog and it's also available to purchase in a 7”. How was the experience? Did you notice any substantial difference in the sound you achieved and also in the recording process? Did it have any effect on the compositions?
In the compositions it didn't have any effect, because the songs were ready before knowing that we were going to record in this studio and in this way. The experience has been very positive and enriching, since in some way it was like making the recording process in a more artisanal way, with machines, valves, wires, buttons, tapes, noises… Everything is more real and it sounds amazing on top. We will repeat the experience for sure.
With Analog Love, you have already done two successful crowdfunding campaigns. Are you thinking about doing it again for future releases? What advice would you give to a band or label that would like to fund an album in this way?
We're not planning to do any crowdfunding in the near future, as we don't want to saturate people. Regardless, it is a wonderful way of funding, since it allows people to get stuck in an album or a project, feeling a part of it and contributing in their own small way in order for it to materialise. For a band or a label it’s also something very positive, because there is no economic risk and you can see how people support and help you, and that's always good.
3/ With Analog Love you also do concert promotion and also organise Zaragoza Psych Fest, which already has 3 editions behind it. Has it been an important factor when it comes to gaining traction as a band? Do you see yourself doing this festival many years more, or do you think that the psychedelic wave might lose strength in coming few years and that the festival will end up having to cover a broader spectrum?
Certainly, one thing helps another. Working as promoters and having relationship with bands, other promoters and venues helps to move the band and to get gigs with the people you've already worked with before and have got to understand well. Anyway, it's not guarantee of anything.We still see ourselves doing the Zaragoza Psych Fest for many years, but it's also true that if we keep growing we'll broaden the style spectrum, but always keeping the essence of free spirit, consciousness shaking and experimentation that characterises psychedelia.
4/ Despite becoming popular with rock and pop many decades ago, psychedelia covers many genres, and more than a music style it can also be considered as a sound that are a parent to these. For you, which are the characteristics of this sound that allows a music genre to be labelled as psychedelic?
We could say that for us psychedelia is every type of music (and art) that plays and experiments with sounds, textures and atmospheres trying to go beyond what is obvious and transports you to other realities. For us, psychedelia has a fundamental introspective-mystic-spiritual character. While other styles of music look for making people dance or have fun, psychedelia transcends all this and penetrates into the universe’s and human mind’s mysteries. We also understand that the questioning of the establishment and the need to search for something different and better is another pillar of this music and way of understanding the world.
5/ Beyond music, many consider that psychedelia is in essence a reassessment of the reality we live in and how we perceive it, that the search for the truth that is beyond our senses and the connection with each other and with everything as a whole. For you, has the word psychedelia a sense beyond the purely musical?
Yes, psychedelia is not just music or art... It is, as you well say, a way of understanding the world, the human being, the nature and reality as a whole. It is to realise that things can be in many ways, that there are no absolute truths and that experimentation and creativity open wonderful doors that you'd never imagine existed. Psychedelia is to see doors where other see walls, see beauty in darkness and know to appreciate the beauty of a tree trunk.
6/ In both releasing music and playing concerts you have had a frenetic activity since starting as a band. You have played in many venues, festivals and also in many countries. What have been your most touching live experiences?
The truth is that we have many wonderful memories of all kinds of concerts. In our hometown, Zaragoza, many have been especially good and emotional and in Madrid we've also had really nice experiences. But, if we would have to pick one it would be probably the one we played in Berlin in January 2015. It was the first time we played outside of Spain, and of course in Berlin, and the venue was totally crowded, with even people that couldn't get in. The crowd was really into it and also having a great moment, the sound was very good and that night we also played with Camera, one of our favourite German bands. Everything was amazing.
7/ You're probably really excited about being part of the lineup of this year's Primavera Sound. How do you feel about it and what expectations do you have? Which other concerts are coming ahead?
We're very happy to be part of the lineup of such a renowned festival as Primavera Sound. We have been either visitors or had great concerts there for many years. We're sure it's going to be a very special concert and that we'll have a great time there. Shortly we will have many interesting gigs coming ahead: last weekend of April we're going to play in Toulouse and Paris, in May we will play at festival SOS 4.8 in Murcia and in a festival in Istanbul between other things. In June there’s Primavera Sound and also a gig with Kikagaku Moyo in Madrid and the festival Polifonik Sound.
8/ If there is any band or style that is distant and unrelated to what you play and has influenced you in one way or another to create your music, which one is it? Do you have any strong influence apart from the merely musical, like a movie or a book?
Definitely blues, since it's a pure feeling and has a rawness and expressiveness that confer it a real and authentic character. In addition, it’s the music where most of the music styles from the 20th century start, so we owe a lot to blues. What we also love from this genre is how from a very simple, primitive and repetitive structure, very varied songs are created and are the arrangements and small details what make the song grow. Bob Dylan and David Bowie should be also mentioned for their own way of understanding music and the constant necessity of reinvent themselves and go beyond their own limits. They are also amazing composers and lyricists.
In literary, writers as Jack Kerouac or Allen Ginsberg and all the beat generation in general and their own way of understanding art and culture has always been been inspiring and fascinating for us. Leaves of Grass from Walt Whitman is also a very special book for us. We also love Herman Hesse, a German writer from the late 19s and early 20s, author of magnificent books like Siddhartha and Steppenwolf.
In the film we should mention Woody Allen and his intelligent humour movies, where he mixes absurdity with surrealism and existentialist philosophy. Jim Jarmush is also a film director that we like for the rawness and originality of his movies.
9/ And to finish, is there any emerging band that you especially like?
To highlight the national product we'll say Baywaves and Matatigre, just to pick a couple, since every day we realise how many quality bands are in our country if you turn off the television and start scratching a bit under the surface…
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