Interview with Javier Vallina | Revista independiente de música

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Interview with Javier Vallina

 Apocalyptic and contemporary pop musician. 

The Asturian guitarist, singer, and composer has opted for Bueno, his most personal project. After years of playing in groups such as Los Mancos, Sister Morphine and Hotel Vaqueros among others, the musician focuses on his solo career by launching his third album, entitled El Refugio. With a desire to continue innovating in the Spanish pop scene, Javier Vallina talks about his musical career, the inspiration after his latest project and his future aspirations.

How did you start in the music world and with what encouragement?

I started very young, when I was 16 years old and in high school. The encouragement had to be with the need to look for something: a place, a group to belong to, a way of communicate and it also had to do with fun. It was a mixture of enthusiasm, a search for fun, and a search for a way of expression and a feeling of belonging. You are looking for yourself and you do it by using the music as a tool.

How was the Bueno project created? Why did you choose that name?

When I started in music, the first group I was for many years was Los Mancos, and then I started to combine it with other projects. There came a moment when I started to have the concern of not depending on other people and the need to do something a little more personal. There were no bad feelings, but I did not want to depend on the rhythms of being in a group. Those group projects went into standby and I had the need to continue, so that I started to recollect a number of songs that I started to shape, looking for the right moment to start recording and launching the album. Bueno project comes from the fact that while I was in different groups I recorded tapes, stored them and I called them “Bueno” as if it were the right version. It also arises because I did not see the need to create a project entitled Javier Vallina, since I wanted to maintain that idea that Bueno, even if it was a solo project, looked like a group. I though it was a nice word with a great sonority, but I did not think it would be complicated to find myself on Internet.

What are your musical influences?

There are more obvious influences within the music that were are delighted about such as The Beatles, The Cure, The Smiths, Los Rodríguez… but I wouldn’t really cite them as influences, since finally it is the music that you like and enjoy. Something that has influenced me in a decisive way are the groups I have played with, the people I have been with since I was sixteen. They are the people I have learned the most from.

In 2009, when you created Bueno, you had to personally take care of everything (composition, layout, production, etc). Has the process been similar after El Refugio?

It has changed over years. The first album started as a four-song guitar and voice demo and grew naturally; I recorded everything and enjoyed it so much that I decided to leave the album like that. On El Refugio I tried in a premeditated way to do something that I have never done before: write the songs at home, prepare a demo, go to rehearsal room and quickly record them in the studio. Then the producer and I built the rest of the layers on that base. There is a change in the pre-production work and in the location, something that I have never done before.


Your new album is called El Refugio because “everyone has a refugee, a place they belong to and another place they should not return to, the place where we always find a story to make our own”. What would be your refugee?

El Refugio as a concept does not talk about a physical place, although it can exist. It is an area, state or moment in which you are well, in which you are as you should and where you are really comfortable. I am not talking so much about a refugee but about a state where you are when you can be yourself and work freely and naturally. The refugee is the friends, family, your couple, your home or a moment you find of loneliness simply when you are walking.

Since 1995 you have been part of the music industry through groups such as Sister Morphine or Los Mancos, is there any special story about a concert? (either bad, funny, etc.)

I could highlight the moment of going to play in infamous places that ended up being wonderful concerts because of the involvement of the audience. Once I was playing with Los Mancos when the stage boards broke and I fell down, but I managed to finish the song because the bass had not been unplugged. In the end the most special moments are those of connection with the people you work with, for example when you are in the studio and find the idea you were looking for a song.

Which group or artist do you listen to recently that has pleasantly surprised you?

Unknown Mortal Orchestra is a group from New Zealand that has surprised me. During the confinement I had time to revisit old music and albums that I had somewhat forgotten with some more calm, such as Prefab Sprout which are from the eighties. I had a forgotten record of them, Protest Songs, which is one of the ones I discovered in these times. What I have done the most is enjoy the pleasure of listening to whole albums from the beginning to end without interruptions, which in the daily life with digital music we can rarely do.

El Refugio is composed of a single song of just over 30 minutes divided into 9 fragments that work autonomously but are linked by a common thread that makes the work work as a unitary whole. What is the inspiration behind this idea?

I have wanted to do something like that for a long time in music. From the moment of composition, I have tried that the songs work as parts of a whole. Dealing with the album as a concept was something that concerned and disturbed me. That’s why when I listen to records, I try to listen to them in their entirety, investigate what happens there as you go along, checking if there is a story or a thread. I had long had this idea of working with fragments of music that could form an integrated whole: that’s how the idea of El Refugio was born. There is also de idea of telling a story: the process of someone leaving the house, arriving at a place where he begins to see what is happening around him and interact with the people around him, until he returns home in the morning. In the end that whole story is an excuse to talk about the way people relate, how we perceive our surroundings and how we relate to it. 

In conclusion, what is your project for the future?

El Refugio is an album that, although it is going to be released as the third album of Bueno, it is actually the fourth album, since there is a double album that I recorded at the time. When I finished this last double album, I noticed it was very difficult to release at that time because of the means and resources. This is when I decided to focus on El Refugio, so chronologically he got in. I would like to record, release songs and make presentations of El Refugio with the aim of being releasing new material in 2021.