5 Minutes with Tachy Mora, Design Journalist

Tachy Mora is a Spanish design journalist and curator of the recent “Cutting-Edge Spanish Crafts” exhibition now showing at the Former Embassy of Spain in Washington, D.C. The exhibition, based on her 2011 book of the same name, explores the current state of craft-making from “designer-makers” – artisans who designed and produced functional works of arts.

Tachy explains the role of “designer-makers” in Spain, the effect of the economic crisis on the design industry, and how designer-makers are paving their own lanes in the current climate.

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Q: What is the purpose of the “Cutting-Edge Spanish Crafts” exhibition?

TACHY: This exhibition shows the most contemporary side of Spanish crafts, through about 90 pieces. What you can see here are pieces made of leather, porcelain, textiles, wood – so many, many materials and many design approaches.

Q: Who brought up the idea? Is it something that consumers wanted?

TACHY: It’s a boom in Spain but also in [the rest of] Europe. It started 15 years ago, more or less. Before the [economic] crisis, many companies that mass-produced stopped doing it in large batches, because they couldn’t compete in price with Asian products. So what many of them started to do was use mass-produced techniques with craft techniques. They are making now products that are industrial and artisanal. These products are more emotional, let’s say, because these are products and pieces of crafts that are an artist piece. In a way, these products are in the middle between an artistic piece and a product. These companies started to see these as a way of still producing and still being in the market. At the same time, designers couldn’t find companies that produced their designs, because of the same thing and because of the crisis, so they decided to self-produced. 

Q: So they became entrepreneurs?

TACHY: Mhm, in a way. They self-produced not only using third artisans, but also work as artisans. This is what we call “designer-makers” because they are designers and makers at the same time.

Q: Did the economic crisis change the attitudes the approach of the designers? Was there a sense of urgency? Were there any other attitudes?

TACHY: Many of them can’t work for companies, because these companies aren’t producing as they used to do. They aren’t launching thirty products as they used to; they are launching maybe four or five products a year. So the designers can’t get into their professional field because of that. So that’s why they started to self-produce. This is not only happening in industrial designer. This is happening not only in industrial design, in furniture and lighting, and also fashion.

Q: Do you see this as a model for other industries outside of design and fashion?
TACHY: I wouldn’t say this is the model. This is the model working for them at the moment. This is the only model, actually. Most of them work like this in Spain really. So now we have the Makers’ Markets in Madrid. These designers-makers go and sell their pieces, and they are self-produced, all of them.

Q: Where do you see craft-making going in the future?

TACHY: When I try to think of the future, I think we will have more products that will be more pieces of art than furniture. They are working in a way that mixes crafts, which is something very “arty.” Now you can buy, for example, a table from a designer-maker, it’s a table he designed or she designed, but they also made this piece. Most of the time, they avoid the classical industrial shape, and go more for a very special piece, that is more arty, more personal. 

:: Thank you Tachy for the interview! You can learn more about Tachy and her work by visiting her website and on her Twitter.

10 Minutes with Clara Roquet

Clara Roquet is the co-writer for the film 10,000 km, a Spanish feature directed by Carlos Marques-Marcet. Clara, an MFA student at Columbia University, wrote the film alongside Marques before moving to the U.S. to attend school to concentrate on screenwriting. 10,000 km features just two on-screen characters: Sergio, played by Spanish theater star David Verdaguer and Alexandra, played by Natalia Tena, known for roles as Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter Films and Osha in Game of Thrones. When Alexandra receives the opportunity to leave Barcelona to live in Los Angeles for a year, she and Sergio commit to a long-distance relationship, relying on technology to keep their relationship afloat.

Clara discusses her influences in screenwriting the film 10,000 km, how technology has affected relationships, and what the American Dream means to her.

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Q: I read that the film is based partially on the director’s long-distance relationship. When writing his, did you use any of your experiences or the experiences of others?

CLARA: It was both, it was very combined. It was also the experiences of a lot of friends of ours who are in long-distance relationships; we’re stealing from them. Also, I got my scholarship to leave to go study at Columbia when I was writing the film in Spain. In a way, I was living the same as her character (Natalia plays), when she gets the scholarship and decides to leave. So I was going through the same process.


Q: Long-distance relationships are usually hard. What makes the audience want to see the couple stay together (or not)?

CLARA: I think you care about them, especially because there’s a 22-minute one-take in the beginning that’s the first act of the film. You see in real-time a morning with this couple and you realize they’re a team and really love each other. It has a lot to do with themes of real love, and not the romantic love that Hollywood has showed us many times. Not looking perfect, and not having these funny lines all the time.

It’s about having daily routines, and having this rhythm. Since we are with them, and since we understand how much we care about each other, we care about them. They also began the film with a very solid commitment to go through this together. I think we want them to succeed at this.

“It has a lot to do with themes of real love, and not the romantic love that Hollywood has showed us many times”

Q: Other films like Catfish or Her have explored technology and relationships in film. How do you think Facetime, Skype, and all those other applications have changed relationships?

CLARA: I think that more than the technology, is the way we live right now, that have changed relationships. Technology is kind of the answer to that. I think technology enables us to have these kind of relationships. By shortening some distances it creates new distances. Seeing someone, but not being able to touch them. For example, if we’re talking on the phone or writing letters, there’s a lot left to the imagination. But on Skype, you see the pixels, and it’s usually not very beautiful, and not very romantic. This is a new way of having a relationship that didn’t exist before. I think it’s very interesting to talk about.

I know a lot of filmmakers who are romantic, and want to show screens and technology, but I think it’s stupid. We have to talk about it. It’s our new challenge, it’s our generation. It’s not very pretty to show screens, and screens, and screens. But I think our Director of Photography made it pretty in this film, which is something I find great. It’s a huge challenge.

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Q: I read that this was your first feature film, as a screenwriter. What did you learn during this process that you’re going to apply to your next film or project?

CLARA: I learned it’s very important to know and care about your relationships, especially in a film like this. It’s about human relationships, and if there are only two characters, you have to know them deep inside. At the end, they’re built from your experiences and from the experiences of your friends. I learned a lot from the Director, Carlos Marques, who’s one of the most talented young directors there is.

He knows so much about cinema and is such a cinephile, that part of my learning came from him. He has great references; he made me watch all these films; he guided me through this process. He trusted me which was great. I’m mostly thankful because it’s so hard to give people their first opportunity. You don’t know if it’s going to work out or not. I always thank him for that, he was very brave. There should be more people like that.

“On Skype, you see the pixels, and it’s usually not very beautiful, and not very romantic. This is a new way of having a relationship that didn’t exist before”

Q: What type of movies or films did you have to watch? What other materials did he give you?

CLARA: I don’t know this is a secret, but one of the main references an Italian film called I fidanzati by Ermanno Olmi, which is a really good film. Most of them are European Films. We also watched Two for the Road, with Audrey Hepburn. We watched Kramer vs. Kramer. All these films have these intimacy, and explorations of human relationships. Relationships seem simple but are very complex.

“I’m mostly thankful because it’s so hard to give people their first opportunity. You don’t know if it’s going to work out or not. I always thank him for that, he was very brave. There should be more people like that”

Q: Since you’re still a student, is it difficult your university commitments with your commitments to the film? You do screenings and interview like this one. How of much your life is this at the moment?

CLARA: A very small part, actually. I usually don’t do interviews. It’s mostly the actor and the directors. I’ve done some, but it hasn’t become a problem for my daily life. Trying to devote all my time to school. Columbia is a great film school and I’m learning so much, and I want to take advantage of everything. I think after I’ll have time to go and write. I’m kind of privileged with this time to devote to myself and learning.

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Q: I read a post on Bloguionistas where you talked about the American Dream and you said that you wanted to see the world. Do you feel like coming to the US and studying in New York, do you still believe in that? Have you accomplished part of that yet?

CLARA: It’s kind of an ironic title. What that article was saying, that there’s this possibility, but it’s not the only possibility. It has more to do with going to a place, where the best people can teach you and being willing to work really hard. And then maybe staying, maybe going back. It’s funny when I think about cinema, about Hollywood, I don’t like New York in some ways. That’s not the reality of what most people making films. I have so many friends going to these fancy hotels for screenings and stuff, and can’t pay rent. There’s this imbalance in this world, it’s very glamorous, but at the time, I’m not making enough money to… you know? It’s weird. (laughs)

“That’s not the reality of what most people making films. I have so many friends going to these fancy hotels for screenings and stuff, and can’t pay rent”

Q: Where will you be in five days, five months and five years?

CLARA: In five days I’m probably going to be in front of my computer on my couch, writing like a crazy person, because I missed some days of work. In five years I have no idea.

Q: What about five months?

CLARA: Oh, that is much easier! In five months I’m going to be in Spain probably, directed my short film. In five years I have no idea. And I really don’t want to know if that makes sense. I hope I’m going to be writing.

Q: If you had the option for someone to tell you what you would be doing in five years, would you take it?

CLARA: No, that would be so boring!

Thanks Clara for the interview! Be sure to follow Clara on Twitter to stay updated on her latest film-making moves!

10 Minutes with Le Parody

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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.

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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!