If you throw a ukulele, MPC sampler, trumpet, and metallophone all in a suitcase, you literally have the musical foundation of Le Parody’s new album CÁSALA. Spain’s Sole Parody, the band’s namesake, multi-instrumentalist, and singer-songwriter, joined with Cuba’s Frank Santiuste, to create a work that is as heartfelt as it is quirky. Sole provides the lyrics, her voice, the ukulele and beats made on the MPC, while Frank provides the trumpet and metallophone accompaniment. The bilingual album mashes hip-hop, electronic, and Spanish folk music, with odd sounds, blips and vocal samples, to create a unique sonic landscape. The Embassy of Spain sponsored Le Parody’s mini-US tour which included stops in Miami, New York and in Washington, D.C. The D.C. stop, which was part of the Forward Festival, drew a packed house to U Street’s Tropicalia venue.
After their show, Sole discussed on how music from the U.S. has influenced her, creating the sound of CÁSALA, and how’s she figuring out “new” ways to sing in Spanish.
Q: This is your first tour in D.C. How did you prepare for it? How much did you know about U.S.?
SOLE: I actually had a scholarship and I was in L.A. for a year, three years ago. So I fell in love with the U.S. – well I was in love with the U.S. before – but I got to see the reality of the U.S.: That you can love it and hate it at the same time. It was a very intense year and it was a big part of why I started making music It was a dream come true. If I had any dream, it was to tour in the USA. For me, it was the place for music, or at the least most of the music I listened to.
“I got to see the reality of the U.S.: That you can love it and hate it at the same time”
Q: What got you started in music? Did you always play as a child? What made you pick up the ukulele, or the drum machine – is that an MPC?
SOLE: Yes! It’s an MPC. I always played music, but I’m not very skilled in any one instrument. I just like to play them – little instruments, machines and a lot of lo-fi stuff. For different reasons, I decided to stop playing in bands. I would sometimes play my solo projects, so I would have a keyboard, a guitar and have to carry so many things. For my next project, I said I would only carry things that would fit in a suitcase. I wanted to start playing with electronics, so I started using the MPC. So I started playing more music with what I had around.
“For my next project, I said I would only carry things that would fit in a suitcase. I started playing more music with what I had around”
Q: Did you first song sound like what you have now? I’m not even sure how to describe it – you have hip-hop beats with flamenco rhythms.
SOLE: The last song we played was more pop in the sense: a chorus that repeats, and an easier stricture to listen to. I like very different kinds of music. I love hip-hop and Spanish folklore, so I try to play what I like.
Q: Can you tell me more about the latest album, CÁSALA?
SOLE: It’s pretty much an experiment. I wanted to start a new thing with the drum machine and the ukulele. There’s a lot of concepts – there’s a whole story going story through it. It started with heartbreak and writing songs about that. As my life turned more political in Spain, the songs turned more political in the lyrics and the songs were more risky, but it was written during a whole year. I released an EP first, then I created more songs to make a whole album. So the concept kept changing, but I wanted to try to do make more songs like that and see if they could fit all together on something that makes sense. But there was no whole concept, [that I said] “I wanted to make a song like this” or I want to make a song like this.” I wanted to do a song that has a lot of trumpets, one that starts really low, or one with fader effects. There were a lot of different things that I wanted to try.
Q: Would you say you usually start with a beat or song then your lyrics go from there? How does your songwriting work since you write the lyrics and do the instrumentation?
SOLE: I usually start with the drums and with the beats, since it’s easier when you have a beat to nail the form down. I usually have a melody in mind, either with the ukulele or my voice. The last thing is the lyrics. I usually sing the melody, and I fit the lyrics inside it. I listened to a lot of soul music, a lot of it, well most of it, is in English. So I wanted to do something similar to that but in Spanish: using the sounds of the language, which is harder…
“I’m trying to play with Spanish – the vowels, the sounds and words that can be merged with different syllables, like in poetry”
Q: So what is your thought about singing in English versus Spanish?
SOLE: There’s a lot of imitation going on in Spain. They want to sound as if they were American or English. I wanted to do something that goes with me. And I think in Spanish, though I love English, I wanted to express myself as I am. That had to fit into the feeling that Spanish isn’t as beautiful to [sing pop in]. Now I find it more diverse. Before I was used to listening to English stuff. We have this sentence in one song that says “there is a place where no cars go.” To say that in Spanish, “hay un lugar que no llegaron los coches” – that’s so long! But I decided to do it in Spanish – mainly because I know how to write better in Spanish than in English. I’m trying to play with Spanish – the vowels, the sounds and words that can be merged with different syllables, like in poetry.
Q: Since your music is so personal, is your music affected by what’s going on in Spain? There’s an economic downturn in Spain, and I talked to other bands from Spain, such as Kiko Veneno and Fuel Fandango, and some people talk about the fact that there’s not as much money –
SOLE: Yeah it’s so fucked up! (Laughs)
“When you’re in the situation that we’re now in Spain, you can either get depressed or, or you can go for it and say ‘I’ll do it the craziest I can.’ But it’s risky too. I don’t know when it’s going to stop or turn badly”
Q: – for artists and music. Does it affect your music, or do you just block it out?
SOLE: Sure it affects me, but it’s kind of weird. The opposite way should [have affected it]. A lot of people get upset with creative things. I quit my job just to do music and I live in the countryside with the littlest amount of money you need to live. When you’re in the situation that we’re now in Spain, you can either get depressed or, or you can go for it and say “I’ll do it the craziest I can.” But it’s risky too. I don’t know when it’s going to stop or turn badly. But for now it’s okay. Doing music, it makes you want to share it differently, like doing free press, being on the internet and learning about the copyright stuff.
Q: Especially because you sample a lot?
SOLE: Well… yeah! (Laughs)
“I quit my job just to do music and I live in the countryside with the littlest amount of money you need to live”
Q: Where will you be in five days, five months and five years?
SOLE: In five days I will be in New York.
Q: Will that be your first time?
SOLE: Well first time will be on Sunday, and we’re doing a second show as well with a band from Puerto Rico called Balun. In five months, I hope I’ll be releasing a new album, but I have no idea where or how!
Q: Do you already have material ready for a new album?
SOLE: I’ll be writing this year. I’ll be recording in a few months and the release will come soon after, so we’ll see.
Q: What about in five years?
SOLE: In five years, I have no idea! I could be under a bridge or back in Washington, D.C.
:: A huge thanks to Sole for the interview! Be sure to grab Le Parody’s new album CÁSALA from their Bandcamp!