Four women: Sílvia, Isabelle, Lisa and Marta. Four cities: Palafrugell, Sèvres, Berlin and Seville. Four visions and one passion: flamenco. All these elements together in a single meeting point: Barcelona. The four European musicians play together in order to create an explosion of pure, rebellious and unique sound: it’s the musical art of Las Migas. Flamenco that inspires the soul and brings energy to the spirit. Sometimes Las Migas are soft, with a bit of melancholy, but, at others, they are energetic and full of feelings. It’s just their music telling you: “Things are like this, but we ought to keep fighting to reach our dreams”. The four women consider themselves "musical smugglers" and so the name of their first album is 'Reinas del Matute' (Smuggling Queens).

Photo: Rafaela Rocha
Isabelle, Sílvia, Lisa and Marta (left to right) came from Sèvres, Palafrugell, Berlin to Barcelona, where they created Las Migas.

The band’s name comes from a delicious dish eaten in some areas of Spain and Portugal, made of several ingredients such as stale bread in small pieces, olive oil, chorizo, eggs, peppers and even sardines. A mix of flavours and colours that reflects the multiculturalism of the band. Flamenco lovers say that “flamenco is the bread”, meaning something very necessary, important to feed our souls. And the four European musicians identify themselves with such small pieces of bread composing the Migas. This is also because they want to be modest in front of the traditional flamenco, as well as different. They don’t play the usual flamenco, but a new one, cooked with far-away flavours and very special ingredients.

 “Las Migas is a musical project consisting of four music lovers that come from different countries owning an heterogeneous musical background. We share the passion for flamenco and that’s our starting point. However, our goal is to create a repertoire full of songs with their own personality, nourished by various music styles. We aim to seek the sound that we all four love!” explains Sílvia Pérez, singer of Las Migas. The result? Delicious melodies, difficult to be labelled. Chamber flamenco? Flamenco with echos of jazz, fado and pop? It’s not easy to put adjectives to their sonorities, you better listen to them!

the origins

Their story began seven years ago, when the four musicians were already living in Barcelona. Three of them, the two guitarists Marta and Isabelle (from Spain and France), together with Sílvia, the Catalan vocalist and cajón drums player, studied in ESMUC, the Higher School of Music of Catalonia. Besides, one of the guitarists was the musician who played at the dance lessons that Lisa, the German violinist and accordionist, was attending. At the very beginning, they started as a guitar and voice duet, but soon afterwards the second guitar joined, and finally did the violin.

“When we started, flamenco was the common point, the element that brought sense to our band. The two guitarist of the band, Marta and myself, were studying  guitarra flamenca (flamenco guitar) and it was quite obvious that, if we should do something together, that would be related to flamenco” explains Isabelle Laudenbach. Then Sílvia, the singer, started to get interested in this kind of music as well, after attending some lessons of singed-flamenco. Flamenco had sparked Lisa's interest some years ago too and she "dared with the violin”, remembers French guitarist Isabelle. But she points out: “With the years, our language moved slowly away from flamenco to get our own music style”.

“I loved flamenco so much but I couldn’t understand a word of its message. Maybe because of this I was in love with this kind of music", says French guitarist Isabelle Laudenbach.

“The time we spent to form the band and prepare the first repertoire went by quickly, " explains Isabelle. "Then we recorded a demo that won a flamenco contest. This brought us lots of confidence on our project, from the very beginning”. “We started performing in concerts and five years later we finally found the time and the conviction to prepare a record called Las Reinas del Matute”, adds Sílvia.

Music: a lingua franca for Las Migas

Image: Rafaela Rocha
Las Migas define their band as "Barcelona-European".

“Music for us is a way to express ourselves, a need, an infinite learning process, and also a job” summarizes Catalan vocalist Sílvia Pérez. And the universal language of music is the one that Las Migas use to communicate with the audience and also with each other. “For us, musicians, it’s easier to communicate feelings through melodies, harmonies and rhythms than with simple words”. But how do a French guitarist, a German violinist, a Catalan singer and a Spanish guitarist come to an agreement during their creative process? “In our case, we all speak Spanish”, admits Sílvia. And Lisa Bause, the German violinist and accordionist adds laughing: “we communicate ourselves in Spanish, but even easier through the music”. They have such a strong musical union, despite their different origins, cultures and points of view. “The way each one understands and transmits music has allowed us to know ourselves much better”, the vocalist says.

“For me, ‘the music’ in singular doesn't exist, but several kinds of music, each one with its particular language”, says Isabelle and, while laughing, she explains that Flamenco was “a totally foreign language” for her in the past. The French guitarist emphasizes: “I loved flamenco so much but I couldn’t understand a word of its message. Maybe because of this I was in love with this kind of music. My curiosity was progressively awaken, so that I started to be interested in it”.

Multicultural visions, multicultural feelings

And what brought each musician from their culture to this project? “I think that cultural differences are noticed more in the verbal communication than in the musical one. Being not specialized in the folklore of our countries, but in the search of beautiful resources from different kinds of music, when we play together we are just four different people, not four different cultures", says Sílvia. "But in the dialogues, the way we face situations or our reactions in front of them might reflect the rhythms and volumes that distinguish every country. Obviously feelings like patience or just the sense of humor are different. That can entail sometimes misunderstandings but it can also bring a funnier and richer relationship”.

Isabelle agrees with Sílvia: “Cultural differences that may exist between us are reflected more out of the stage than when we are performing our music. However, the band spends more time out of the stage than on it, because there’s a lot of moments in a life’s band. In seven years, we have learned a lot from each other about all our differences and this has brought us an enormous personal richness”. Lisa adds: “I think that music or cultural mixture is always positive. In our case, the mixture is more musical than cultural, because we aren’t experts in the music of our countries but in the World’s music and, this way, because we have learned different kinds of World’s music, we can multiply the sonorities that we can create all together”.

Barcelona and ‘Las Migas’

We consider ourselves a Barcelona-European Band” says Sílvia. And Isabelle gives her point of view: “I chose Barcelona because I wanted to study music in ESMUC, but also due to its proximity to France and Europe. It’s a very open-minded city and also culturally interesting”. Sílvia agrees: “It’s a lively city, with lots of diversity in all senses, there's people from everywhere, and it’s located in front of the sea!”. The German violinist, Lisa, explains: “Its artistic fame called me to come here. When I came in 1998 there was a great deal of good musicians and art on the street, a creative atmosphere. Things has changed now, but I’m still trapped here”.

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