Written In The Stars: An Interview With Pegasvs
, October 2nd, 2012 04:50
John Freeman chats to the Barcelona 'kraut-pop' duo about how their glorious debut album is an experiment in "fitting pop structures to experimental noise"
Some things are meant to be. Pegasvs are a Barcelona-based duo whose self-titled debut album is a visceral, pulsing blast of motorik pop – all metronomic beats, dizzying synths and celestial melodies. After playing together in a befuddling number of interconnected bands, producer Sergio Pérez and Argentinean singer Luciana Della Villa formed Pegasvs in 2010 after a holiday to Pérez's home region of Asturias in the north of Spain. During the trip, the pair would discover the sound that would ultimately become Pegasvs.
When I speak to Pegasvs over a Skype video link, we toast each other with glasses of water (it's all we've got) before Pérez and Della Villa reveal how a myriad of touchpoints - including the Italian pop crooner Franco Battiato and the track 'Godstar' by Psychic TV - were sources of inspiration for Pegasvs. Della Villa – who used to play bass in the punk-pop band Sybil Vane - does most of the talking, while Pérez, a veteran of a number of psychedelic prog-rock outfits, seems happy to be gently berated by Luciana about his previous Pink Floyd inclinations.
During that defining holiday in Asturias, the two friends would spend evenings gazing at sky, searching for the Pegasus constellation. It was a sign. For Pérez and Della Villa, the winged-horse represents power and speed, as if the DNA of their fledgling band was being unfurled in the stars.
When did you first meet each other?
Sergio Pérez: A long time ago we played in different bands in Barcelona and would play on the same night. Then we started to play together and would also hang out with each other.
What types of bands were you in prior to Pegasvs?
Luciana Della Villa: We were playing in many bands before we started Pegasvs. I was in a band called Sybil Vane – the name was taken from The Portrait Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – which was a three-girl band and we played punk-pop. Many people said we were like riot grrrl, but we didn't like that comparison. I used to sing and play the bass - we were guitar, bass and drums. We had two records but then we stopped playing. Then I started playing with Sergio in a group called Anticonceptivas and then with another of his groups called Thelematicos. It's quite common here that people have a lot of bands at the same time. There are a lot of bands, but we are all the same people.
SP: I've been in too many bands, I think. Anticonceptivas was crazy punk-rock and then we started Thelematicos and it was more psychedelic rock.
LDV: It was like Pink Floyd [laughs].
SP: No! Not that much. Thelematicos had been formed with myself and Nacho El Ortiga from another band I was in called Defensa, but in the end, it was just Luciana and I playing in Thelematicos. We were playing a kind of music I cannot describe.
When did you create Pegasvs and how did you want the project to be different to your previous incarnations?
LDV: At the start when we playing in Anticonceptivas, we lived together and were always making music together. In 2010, we decided we wanted to start a new project with only the two of us. We always had thoughts about doing a project with synthesisers. We had a holiday in Asturias, the place where Sergio is from, and we took some synthesisers and we were in the fields in Asturias just playing and having great fun.
SP: We were looking for our sound.
LDV: We tried many things with the synthesizers but really it was the song 'La Melodía del Afilador' that was the first example of what we wanted to do.
What was it about that particular song?
LDV: We wanted it to sound powerful and strong, that was the main thing - and fresh. We had the melodic rhythm which was coming from krautrock and we liked the idea of speed, such as on the track 'Atlántico'.
SP: We were trying to put melody together with noise and rhythm. We took the experimental noise and fitted it to a pop structure. That's what we were trying to do.
I hear a lot of different types of music within the Pegasvs sound. Were you inspired by any specific artists and, if so, how did they influence Pegasvs?
SP: We were not trying to emulate any of them but we referenced Kraftwerk and Psychic TV. We liked Julian Cope and Teardrop Explodes and some Spanish bands like Derribos Arias which was a great band in the early 80s. We also liked an Italian pop singer called Franco Battiato.
LDV: There are some things that we like from each one of them and we are trying to make a mixture. We like the rhythms of krautrock but we like the song structures of Franco Battiato. With Psychic TV we like the spirit of the songs. One of their songs we love so much – it's called 'Godstar' – we think it's perfect and would love to have a song like that.
Can I ask about your band name? I assume it is a derivation of 'Pegasus'?
LDV: Yes, we love ancient Greek and Roman culture. Pegasus is a winged-horse and makes us think about speed and strength. It's an iconic, powerful image. We changed the 'u' to a 'v' because it reminds us of a Roman numeral written in Latin.
SP: We were looking at constellations in the sky when we were in Asturias making our sound and every night we would find the Pegasus constellation.
That's a beautiful image. Turning closer to home, what is it like to be a musician in Barcelona?
LDV: Barcelona is not a big city; it is more like a big village. In the end you know everyone here in the town – you go to the same shows and the same bars. When you meet up you start talking about ideas and the concept about a new band is the first thing that appears.
SP: Everything is mixed up. You play with another band and then start talking about doing different songs. But, a lot of these bands don't last very long – maybe a few months and that's it.
I'd like to apologise in advance for this linguistically narrow-minded question, but as Pegasvs' lyrics are in Spanish, have you ever considered singing in English?
LDV: It's not a narrow-minded question. There are some groups in Barcelona that have sung in English and there are many groups in Spain that still sing in English. But, we always thought that Spanish is our language and if I want to express an idea then Spanish is best language to use. Here in Spain there are a lot of people that hear music in English but they don't know what they are hearing, but just enjoy the music. So, we think that if we sing in Spanish there will be people who only speak English but will still be able to enjoy our music.
What music did you both listen to as children? Luciana, I believe you are from Argentina?
LDV: Yes, I came to Barcelona when I was 18. In my adolescence I used to listen to local bands in Buenos Aires. There were some bands that now are quite famous such as a group called Babasonicos. I also liked Pixies and Radiohead but these were bands I never thought I would see in a show because I was in Buenos Aires. When I came to Barcelona I got to see some of their shows.
Sergio, I believe you are originally from northern Spain – what was your musical education like?
SP: Yes, I'm from Asturias on the north coast, next to Galicia. I am from a very small town, and the first show I went to was a local rockabilly band. As a small child I listened to classical music with my parents. Then, I played in a lot of punk-rock bands and listened to lots of 80s Spanish punk – the first wave of bands after the dictatorship. Punk music arrived here a little bit late because of the situation. Then, I discovered other things - like electronic music.
Finally, your debut album was released earlier in the year. What have you been doing since that time and what are your future plans for Pegasvs?
LDV: We having been playing many shows since the album was out. We've been playing lots of festival in Spain. There are lot of festivals here, almost in every city. Now that the summer ends, we want to start trying new things but we don't have any definite plans for future releases.
SP: We won't do the same thing twice because we have been playing these songs a lot and have been developing new ideas. We want to try something new and fresh for us.
Pegasvs is out now via CANADA