An Espil – the personality and creative process of one really charming musician
Аn Espil says that If she wasn’t a musician, she would be an architect. She thought she would be a painter while dreaming as a child, but she realised it is not her thing. And the music world should feel blessed about it. You can find out why we are so sure and positive just by reading our interview with An below:
How would you describe your style?
Well if it’s about my personal style, I would say I don’t really care about style, clothes, behavior, words, I try to keep it natural, I dress comfortable, don’t use makeup anymore, I like big shoes. The only thing I´ve been doing for a few years is painting my hair, always did things with my hair, since I was little, cutting my hair without permission, messed up a lot, now I change it’s colour very often. At the moment I have it half natural, half light violet.
Now, If we talk about my music style, I would say that my voice always sounded like soul, whatever base we’re playing. With the full band, like in my new EP ‘Mentiras’ (June ’17) you got what I would call ‘soft rock & pop soul’. I’m not god at describing music, I’m not really a ‘music nerd’, thought I write and read sheet music.
How and when was your relationship with music born?
Well my mom used to sing The Beatles with my biological father when pregnant, so I heard vocal arrangements before I was born, vocal harmonies and vocal arrangements are what I consider the best thing I do, or, at least, something that I’ve always felt too easy for me to do. So when I was older, I didn’t know exactly how to make my voice sound good and loud, but I was a good second voice for anyone. I wasn’t raised by my biological father, but I knew he was a musician so I always had an attraction. My older sister was the one who convinced me of becoming a singer.
How has music changed you?
I’m a really quiet person. I don’t talk much, except for some occasions, so music helped me to come out with some thoughts and feelings I can’t get rid of talking or just writing. I used to write when I was younger, that did me really good, I think now singing is the best therapy I’ve known, and writing my own melodies and words even better. It also made me more confident, I have a better relationship with myself, and with other people.
Describe your creative process.
The time when I’m most creative is when I’m walking, outside, in the streets, I always record quick ideas with my cellular, in most of them you can hear the sounds of cars, crowd, or me singing really low not to be heard by others on the bus. That’s when I come out with melodies or phrases, words, or topics. I have lists of topics on my phone.
And then sometimes playing guitar I get a sequence or maybe just two chords, and start playing that, see If I come up with a melody. Or I listen to the melodies I recorded earlier and try to find the chords and then try to continue. I leave a lot of songs half made. And start with something new. I have a lots of short ideas unfinished. I got together a fresh and new idea with a really old one and finally closed a song, after years. When it happens, it’s really satisfying.
Are musicians different from other people? How?
Inside the ‘musician’s’ kind, there are a lot of people. I once thought that musicians are different, but now I know that we’re all the same, music is a very noble choice for living, but the music industry is much like any other industry, so it depends on what label you’re in, and how far you wanna go. I have a song about it, it’s called “LEJOS” (Further) it’s not yet recorded but we’ve been playing it live for a while. And it says on the chorus “Pero viendote ahi, ya no se si quiero ir más lejos” (But seeing you there, I don’t know if I wanna go further”). So, I don’t think that musicians are different, I think that you can mess up being a musician as much as being any other activity for living.
How hard is it to be a professional musician nowadays – what is wrong and what is right in the industry?
I don’t think its hard to be a professional musician. At least for me it isn’t. Although I consider myself very very LUCKY for having the chance of working with music since I was 18, I got my first job with music when I finished the first three years of the career, it was on Saturdays as a teacher’s assistant, I had another job during the week, in a Tennis Club. I think it’s easy to get jobs teaching as well as playing, if you study hard and you’re good with your instrument, it depends also on your instrument. I really think that being a singer is great for working, people love singers, you can always sing (that can be annoying sometimes, haha) and if you have a good and rare sound, it’s almost assured you’ll work.
I think the industry is too big, too much money to get there. You have to pass through a lot of filters, If you want to be big you’ll get big, but big doesn’t mean good to me, and even less if we’re talking about money.
I try to watch my step, and pay attention. I hope I’ll always keep it healthy for me and the people around, and what I’m generating.
What do you listen to? Name a few of your music heroes.
Like I said, I’m not a music nerd at all. I grew up listening to The Beatles, Enya, Caetano Veloso, Maria Bethania, Elis Regina, I remember very well my mom listening to the ‘Out of Africa’ soundtrack and me crying in my bed imagining the saddest thing I could imagine, she also made me know Carol King, composer, pianist and then singer, who wrote a lot of songs for other people and then started singing herself. I would love to write songs like hers. I’ve listened to some national music too, like Sui Generis, one of the bands Charly García – I really love them, amazing vocal arrangements, I became big fan. That was from my mom.
From my dad’s home (I was raised by two of my sister’s father, he was an electrician, music fan, not musician, though he would love to play drums) me, my brothers and sisters learned a lot from Luis Alberto Spinetta, my dad was a big big fan of him, and SUMO (love that band), also had some Frank Zappa, Pappo’s Blues.
From my grandma (dad’s mom) I got some argentinian Folklore and Tango, I learned how to dance both of them, I became the dance teacher in my school because of it, and organized the dances in patriotic dates.
And from my older brothers and sisters (I’m the youngest of 6) I had some more national like Los Redondos, Los Piojos, Fito Paez, Charly García, etc.
Name three musicians or bands we’ve probably never heard of but are definitely worth checking out.
I would definitely recommend some friends like Nene Almíbar, from my town. Roxana Amed, a great singer from who I learned a lot just listening. I have a band named NAFTA with some of the guys from Militantes del Climax, both bands are really cool. You have plenty of great bands in Argentina, it’s shocking.
What makes a song “good”?
Good melodies. This band ‘Nene Almíbar’ are great with that, I really love the melodies that Manu (singer and writer) sings, and he uses words incredibly, it’s very hard writing in spanish, or maybe I should say in ‘argentinian’. Words don’t sound as easy as in English, it gets hard to say something concrete with only few words, there’s a lot of bands singing in English around here, at the beginning I started composing in English. But I’ve accepted the challenge of writing in my language exactly because it’s harder for me.
I think that good melodies make good songs, and if it’s combined with right words that say something new or useful, even better.
What’s the key to a great live performance?
Well I think that, like a band round here says, DEJA TODO, that’s the name of their last album, (Mariscal – Dejá Todo) it means ‘give everything’ or more like ‘leave everything you got’. The times I get really impressed watching a show is when I see that the artists are really giving everything they’ve got, until they are exhausted, and still smiling and feeling lucky every second for having the chance of doing what they’re doing. I don’t like much acting in a show, I like to see the human side of musicians, I like to see them aware of where they are and using it for good, like to see musicians talking to the people watching, and treating them good.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Well, I’ve been trying not to look for inspiration in music. I try to get calmed for inspiration to come. Memories, they’re full of inspiration, a song pretty new, gives the name to my EP “Mentiras”, it means ‘Lies’. That song starts with a memorie: ‘Alguien me llamó una vez diciendo mentiras…’ or ‘Someone called me once telling lies…’, that was my sister calling me for telling a bad bad news for me, when I was 3,000 km. from home, and the song is about all the process after that call and I finally got the phrase for the chorus “¿Que podríamos hacer con la verdad? ‘What could we do with the truth?’ which is like what I learned from that situation, and I’m really happy for having put those memories in a song, it’s like transforming it into something better, and that’s what happened with the situation itself, I got some really cool info for my life from that call.
Do you think a place where musicians from all parts of the world can connect, support one another and exchange ideas is truly missing?
Yes, for sure. Any connecting place is needed, where you can find the musician you need for any reason, where you can ask for help and show yourself to other musicians who are there especially for that exchange.
Can Drooble be that place?
I think it can. Im new on Drooble and already like what’s going on. I uploaded some live recordings I have and I got listeners from outside Argentina, and got some ‘applauses’, I will offer my singing classes on my profile as well. I’m excited about what could result from it.
What’s next for you? Any exciting plans for this year.
I released my first studio EP “MENTIRAS” in June, I’ve started planning the next recording session already ‘cause I want to release at least three EP’s during this year. Got lots of songs played live for years, never recorded. This will be a good year for music.