July 27, 2016

Image Credit: Pablo de Pastors

We caught up with Heather and Sergi from Barcelona-based band Heather ahead of their live set at the upcoming UO Live Barcelona event. We chat first gigs, musical influences and the highs of being in a band.

UO: When and how did you form Heather?

Heather: The project started towards the end of 2014 and was formed from the embers of various other projects. In one way or another, we’ve been friends or have made music together for years. Heather came to life after Alex and Germán first got together to make music, without any real idea of what would come of it. A short time after, Sergi was added on bass and Aitor on drums. I was the last member to come along, after being cornered by Alex and Sergi at a mutual friend’s birthday party. It all happened pretty organically.

UO: Did you grow up in a musical family?

Heather: If a musical family is one in which everyone plays an instrument, then definitely not. No-one in my family ever owned or knew what to do with a guitar, for example. I was the first in generations to pick up an instrument when I started playing the flute at primary school. That being said, my childhood was definitely still full of music. My Dad was an anorak when it came to Motown and soul and those were the records that always played at home.

Sergi: My mother sang from a young age at church and she also learned to play the guitar there, whilst my father is arrhythmic and has no notion for music at all.

UO: What kind of music did you listen to growing up and how has this influenced your sound now?

Heather: I think I’ve gone through every phase possible since childhood. It wasn’t until my very late teens that I started listening almost exclusively to guitar-based music. I guess Indie was my first real obsession. More than influencing Heather’s sound (the composition of the songs is primarily done by the boys) I would say that this has profoundly influenced my outlook on the world of making music. I’ve spent the last decade or so going to gigs, buying records, researching new bands and that’s all down to those first bands I got excited about as a teenager.

Sergi: No-one in my family showed me any music that blew my mind, so when I discovered rap music at school when I was 12 or so, I became obsessed with Spanish hiphop culture. I was also listening to melodic hardcore and punk pop bands in the late 90s and the early 2000s when I was a teenager. Everything changed when I met Alex, just after finishing high school: he broadened my view and showed me all the punk, pop and rock basics. I have been discovering new music since then (both new and old). I guess everything I have ever listened to has had some influence on me: the attitude of a band, a melody in a chorus, a production detail, a gig.

UO: Do you have a creative process? If so, can you talk us through it?

Heather: I think we’re still trying to perfect that. As the vocalist, I come up with the melodies but only after Alex, Germán or Sergi have presented whatever idea it is they have for a new song. Usually, that initial idea is brought to a rehearsal, it’s played to the rest of the band and we all then improvise over it until we’re all happy with what we’re doing and that our parts work in harmony. But what we’ve found really effective is having that idea presented alongside an already established vocal melody. This basically reduces the ‘improvisation’ time required later on and we seem to work more quickly and effectively this way. It means I’ll basically be present from the beginning.

Sergi: Yes, things go smoother if we work on the voice melodies at first; songs are more solid if we build them that way.

UO: What was the first record you bought?

Heather: I could tell a white lie and name the first ‘indie’ album I bought which was Louder than Bombs by The Smiths. That’s where it all began for me. The truth is that the first record I ever bought was ‘Destiny’ by Gloria Estefan in 1996 and my first concert was seeing her live a short time after.

Sergi: I think it was Mucho Muchacho’s “Chulería”, but it may have been Offspring’s “Ixnay on the Hombre”.

UO: How would you describe your sound in 3 words?

Heather: Rough meets smooth.

UO: How do you feel living and creating music in Barcelona has impacted your sound?

Heather: I think Barcelona is a really creative city and it’s definitely conducive to creating music. We move in musical circles. However, I saw that growing up in Glasgow too, a city like many others in the UK that has a really strong history of bands, live music and creativity. I would say our sound is more influenced by bands from there than here, for sure. Our sound is greatly influenced by bands or musical movements from days gone by too; we’ve been shaped a lot by the past.

Sergi: The thing that influences me the most is the gig, so the opportunity to watch very different bands —locals and from abroad— live has a deep impact on my point of view and my way of composing within the band. There’s a lot of people in this city organizing gigs, small festivals and managing DIY venues, so there are at least one or two interesting things happening every week.

UO: Highs and lows of being in a band?

Heather: The highs are as you’d expect: playing a gig for a really receptive crowd, and playing it well; recording a song that you’d love to listen to as a fan; creating something you are proud of with bandmates who become a second family. There’s so many positives that it makes all the lows worthwhile: it requires a lot of hard work, patience and dedication to be in a band that you’re serious about. The travelling long distances and the transportation of instruments is a drag, but it’s a labour of love. It’s always worth it in the end.

Sergi: High: To excite someone who’s watching you play. To spend a month polishing a song and see how it shines when you finally record it. To share a project with four other people you love. Lows: All the lows you would expect from a 5-sided very intense human relationship.

UO: Any pre-performance rituals?

Heather: For me, not really. I guess the only thing I’ve consistently done before a gig is to change into something fresh. I don’t know if that’s a ritual but it certainly makes me feel good before going on stage.

Sergi: If we can, we have a couple of drinks together.

UO: Highlight of 2016 so far?

Heather: Obvious highlights would be certain concerts, leaving the stage and feeling happy about the performance. It’s a real buzz. A personal highlight, though, would be the recording and mixing of our debut album – we’ve worked so hard on it and it’s amazing to hear it taking shape.

Sergi: Playing in the festival organized by Dead Moon Records in Raval, with the street crowded. Then, finishing a song in the studio with Sergio.