« Hey man, I have a band »
« Really? I have one too! What do you play ? »
« Kind of pop »
« Oh I play the same, and guess what ? My brother plays drums in a pop band as well »
« Yeah well, like half of the world »
Did we have our fill of this popular musical style? What are the boundaries of this genre ? Is there a thin line that differences the genuine pop sounds and the mediocre and common ones ? Pop, as the word says, refers to popular music and, as everything that has been created and supported in the 60’s. What did they offer us at that time? Pop had just 10 years of life and it was still shaping. They were there at the right time and in the right place : the 60’s and UK. Their careful vocal harmonies, their mild guitar melodies and their original look amazed us. And we, human beings, selfish and nonconformist by nature, get tired of everything, but The Beatles, those talented and smart guys, knew how to evolve their style and still keep us satisfied and amazed by plunging themselves into new genres as rock, folk, country and psychedelic and acid sounds.
What is the tendency now? Music has evolved by the hand of technology, so it is pointless not to keep in mind the presence of synthesizers and other technological sounds when we talk about the current musical panorama. With such a great deal of pop bands evolving to the experimental spheres it is logic to think that finding groups that still amaze us, just at The Beatles did in their time, can be an arduous task. As the market shows us, when the supply is huge and the demand is every time more and more demanding , the price of the products tend to decrease. But, among that vast and wide offer, I have just found a band that is worth paying a good price: Oh. Libia!
This Spanish group was formed in 2008 in Alicante when Víctor Ramirez and J.T. met. They felt an artistical connection inmmediately and, after that fortunate encounter, several members as Juanjo, Oscar, Pablo, Joan, Matallin, Elena and Tristán (those last two are not in the band anymore) joined the project. « Oh, Libia ! is the fruit of a friendship and some great circumstances and has turned into something that define our lives ». What do they sound like? Well, being labeled into what we could define avant-garde pop, their sound is a spontaneous blend of psychedelic overtones, progressive approaches, and vocal harmonies that remind us of bands like The Zombies, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Pastels, Robyn Hitchcock or Elephant Six Collective groups (Neutral Milk Hotel, The Appels in Stereo, Olivia Tremor Control). « We listen to a wide musical selection : artists like Blur, Elliott Smith, The Pastels, Big Star, 13th Floor Elevators…And we are really interested in what current bands are doing now like Animal Collective, Girls or Beach House. »
With a homonymus album released in 2010, this year they have been sponsored by the greatest Ken Stringfellow, the leader of the mythical band The Posies, who has collaborated with R.E.M, Big Star, Lagwagon, Patti Smith among many others. When someone with such a rich musical experience as Ken discovered them playing in Paris (Pop In) and that same day wants to become the productor of their album, we can affirm that these guys have something very prized to share with us.
« The main difference between our first album and this last one is that now we are a band. But nothing remarkable changes, we are not worse or better. We think our sound is still shaping and we want to keep on launching albums until we don’t have anything valuable to offer. The sound maybe has taken a new way but the subject matter is just the same we had at the beginning. Oh, Libia ! is just a bizarre and beautiful project that is changing every time «
That summer Ken travelled to the Spanish Mediterranean coast where they are from. He brought with him an analogue tape recorder (that was used previously by Fleet Foxes in the recording of their first album) and they spent their time between the Monophonic Studios and the beach. And from that idyllic time came up a beautiful jewel : « #2 » which has been just published this last week. «Working with Ken was what enabled us to keep on working with a great illusion, because being supported by a musician like him made us think that maybe we really had something interesting to show. He helped us a lot at the time of defining our sound and creating someting unique. He is the most hard-working and honest person we have ever met and he knows how to pass it on. He is just another Oh, Libia ! member ». Besides Ken’s presence, they have counted with the collaboration of another guest star : Trevor Murrell, who was the drummer of Wham! and Sade and has participated in the recording of George Michael, Joe Cocker or Bee Gees albums.
And which record label wanted to own this juicy cake ? Anybody better than themselves. «We recorded our first album entirely on our own. We, the band, were in charge of everything, included the expenses. One day we discovered Doitter, a services platform for amateur bands and that was our solution. They helped us a lot with the edition process and we are really satisfied with the result. We have created our own label called « Japanese Fucked Records » for the first album and now we have trusted “Discos de Paseo” (a little label set in Barcelona) for the edition of this second one”.
Despite the discouraging musical panorama here in Spain the band is still excited about what they do. « We could quit but this would be an enormous mistake, because at the end, we do this moved by a huge neccessity of being together. In public we are seen like a psychedelic group for crazy and lovely people but in private we are a great family. Spain sucks and hurts but we would suck more if we were very demanding with the audience. Almost all the bands we love have gone through the same thing. We don’t like groups that are all the time seeking a success image. We think it is a bit ridiculous. ».
As technology has evolved in the way of creating and producing music, it did too in its promotion and advertising roles. “Internet has good and bad things. The good thing is that thanks to it we have some fans abroad. But we feel like Art is not a wide way of expression in this century we are living. We imagine a big and dark room crowded. And in that room there are four visionary people that connect with your vision and that’s enough. You don’t need everybody’s approval, but you need the scorn of the ones that evaluate everything. If you don’t have both you’re fucked up. What is important is to be sure about what you create”
Sometimes labels are a boring thing and, as they say, “we don’t want to put limits to our compositions”, but with labels, limits or without them, what is clear is that their music is about good vibes and that fact doesn’t die as time goes by. That is distant from crazes and social trends and who knows if in 50 years their songs will be listened as the ones of The Beatles, The Beach Boys or their other big influences are listened now. Paraphrasing The Everly Brothers:”all you have to do is dream”.