If she plays at putting an adjective on it, chances are she’ll find several, that all fit together and are fine by her. Soleá Morente expresses with a sweet cadence a cluster of clear ideas that are based on mixing, searching, breaking clichés. Philologist, voracious reader, restless mind, confinement has caught the grenadine with an album, ‘What you lack’ (Elephant Records, 2020) recently published and at her mother’s house, sharing space and routines. The artist talks about that confinement and the wings she hopes her new job will take.
– She is back in Granada, in the family home, accompanied, away from Madrid. Is it like going back to adolescence?
– Totally. With my mother controlling everything; “Do not go out, do not enter”. I’ve been locked up here for a month and it seems like when I was preparing for my exams. I do nothing but read, write, study … There is also my grandmother Rosario and my brother. The whole gang, but I have my little space in one of the apartments my mother made and I come and go.
– The album came out on March 13, just before confinement began.
– And with a crown in the photo, too! It’s silly, but look what a coincidence.
– How is that coincidence that has you and the album locked up?
– Now I’m starting to react. I am very concerned about the situation and that kept me scared. Everything has been postponed, the promo, the concerts. I do a lot online and by phone, which is not the ideal for an album in which I have put all my enthusiasm, my savings, my strength … But it compensates me that people write me such beautiful things, that I am serving them in confinement, they have a good time, it’s a little while they dance. If my music has been of any use, there is no greater satisfaction. It serves me more than selling many records.
– Are you patient with the situation?
– At times I am patient and at times very impulsive. It goes by moments. And you develop the ability to reflect, which is something that you have to work on every day. It is important to make an effort to have perspective and think about the future, make logical decisions. Each of us is concerned about our own circumstances and having stopped a record that has cost so much and is there alone …
– In this new job you have decided to change companies and start working with Elephant Records. Why?
– I like to change, not stay all the time in the same place. I had known what it is to work with a multinational like Sony, which was very good, but I wanted to change the way of working that I had until now. Artistically and conceptually, the album has been another turn, from an interpretive point of view, of sound. In all aspects. It is seen that he had that need.
– Unlike previous records, a more natural style is perceived. Is it something premeditated?
– Yes of course. That is the idea and what we have been looking for, both David, the producer, and myself. Almost all of them are sung in one take, with very few effects. We wanted to record it live, following the character of Bambino’s work; that natural party sound of the first impulse. But some of them did have to be recorded on the clapperboard because it was very difficult to get the musicians together and we did it piece by piece, but we got rid of the super production that a studio offers.
– Las Negri, Cariño, Muchachito, Tomasito… How do you choose your companions on this trip?
– The main base is the two guitars, Eduardo Espín and Víctor Iniesta. Eduardo is the son of Carmen Linares, he comes from flamenco jondo but at the same time he works with rock bands like El Bicho, he does more open-minded things and Victor does the same thing, he plays with Manolo García but he comes from flamenco. They understand me very well. They accompany me in a granaina and go to pop without problem. We do that kind of trip. Then there are two very important collaborations, which help me to explain conceptually. Las Negris, three gypsy sisters who are cousins of my mother and who contribute that racial and passionate part and later Las Cariño, maximum representative of the indie. Between those two opposite poles I move.
– Do you feel that maintaining that balance between opposite points is your comfort zone?
– Yes, I go from one place to another naturally. I can have a blast at an indie festival and also listen to singing at a gypsy wedding. I have lived that from a very young age and the other indie influence has been very determining, from ‘Omega’ to the album I made with Evangelistas. Thus, in an unpremeditated way, I was seeing where everything fit.
– Taking two guitarists who come from flamenco jondo, have you reconciled with the purists?
– Little by little, it seems that the purist sectors of indie and flamenco are understanding me a little more, because I do have encounters with critics and the public. I get it. My music is not standard, conventional or easy. It is research music. I have the feeling that we understand each other. In Galicia, something happened to me. I adapted ‘Good things’, from La Bien Querida to a granaina. After the initial, orthodox, super flamenco falseta, people were singing with me like I was pop. That is what I intend. Naturalize what it is to sing flamenco. Nothing happens if they were not born in a non-flamenco, non-gypsy crib, to sing and enjoy it. In Spain and everywhere it is important to approach this spiritual source. Bad times are worth it.
– Have you learned to fit in those bad times?
I am developing a philosophy of life. Criticism is important when it makes sense and is done clearly and objectively. It is interesting. I respect them and some come in handy. Not everything can be good. But speaking from disrespect or cruellest things… Before they hurt, but now I know how to handle it better. Nobody likes it after doing so much effort, but the trade and the experience are already noticeable.
– ‘What you lack’ is the title of this third album. What are you missing?
– Right now freedom, just like everyone. Also, when the confinement ends, you could say that freedom in another sense. For everything we talk about; We live in a dynamic that we have established the society in which you find yourself with many prejudices, many inculcated thoughts that limit and harm you, many illogical fears, that it is important to have them when they make sense, as my psychologist says. We need to free ourselves from them and not waste time.
– Apart from his solo project he is in the group Prado Negro. What are the main differences between both projects?
– The first difference is that a “solo” album is not the same, an initiative of its own, and a teamwork in which I am one more. I tell them to sing more, but they don’t give me much account! We decided together and we chose the songs, the poems, and conceptually they are very different. We create that atmosphere conducive to the union of music and literature, treated from a more classical point of view. We sing to great poets who have left us an incredible legacy. In mine there are influences of the trap, which I relate to Andalusian popular literature of the eighteenth century.
– Literature seems to have a determining role in their day to day
– Yes. Literature occupies 75% of my life. I am very fond of reading and having studied philology has created that habit that, today, in this quarantine, is saving me. Go with my book under my arm. I may not open it, but the feeling of having it … I have three or four readings that have nothing to do with it and it gives me enough security. It offers you the possibility to escape and enter other worlds. I have more time to read and reflect. It is one of the few good things, that time that we lacked in our life before.
“It is quite an event for Elefant Records, but at the same time a release that somehow manages to close a circle that almost no one knew was open. The magic of music. The fact is that Soleá Morente’s new album, produced by David Rodríguez, complies with the rule of third discs: reaffirmation, maturity, and development albums. And it is that for the first time Soleá herself has taken a leading role in the composition of some of the songs on the album, a work that gives off exotic and rooted aromas, but with an absolutely exceptional and wonderful pop sense. Because Soleá Morente is a unique character in the Spanish music scene. Yes, because she is the daughter of the legendary flamenco singer Enrique Morente and the dancer Aurora Carbonell, but also because the Morente median has always known how to be permeable to other musical styles and references. Thus, on this album Ana Fernández-Villaverde (La Bien Querida), David Rodríguez (La Estrella de David) and J (Los Planetas) also appear as composers. Exquisite cocktail. Square circle ».