If you like groups or soloists as Scott Walker, Julia Holter, Portishead, Agnes Obel or Radiohead, you won’t resist the cold spell of Northwest. The experimental Spanish pop duo now based in London is making magic inspired by their fascination for Mars-like landscapes, snowstorms and melancholic nature.
Oscillating between dream pop, contemporary classic music, and trip hop, Northwest’s debut album, Dimaryp, is one of the most awaited projects of the independent music scene. Discover it for the first time at Sala Costello in Madrid on September 30th and later in the United Kingdom and France. Save the date!
Behind Northwest are Ignacio Simón and Mariuca García-Lomas, two passionate cold lovers and talented instrumentalist thinkers. Can you tell us about the genesis of your duo collaboration?
Northwest is a blend of two minds and we do everything together, but in a more specific role set: I (Mariuca) am the composer, singer and visual artist and Ignacio is the composer, producer and engineer. We met in Madrid. Back then Ignacio was the only one of us making music as a career. He was (and still is) the lead singer and producer behind Al Berkowitz and I was working as a film director while studying graphic design and made some of their music videos. I started making very amateur music as a hobby, using my father’s old cassio and garage band. One day I showed him some of my songs and he took one of them (Reflection) and made magic with it. In that moment, we knew we had to do something together. Shortly after, we decided to move to England and Northwest was officially born.
Why do you make music?
I personally use music as a way to cope with reality, as a way of self-expression necessary for my mental health. It’s also my way of procrastinating! When I have to do something boring I don’t want to do, I write songs. But music is also the best language I know. Before I was a creator, I was –and still am– a fan of it. And so all my life I’ve listened to music and I’ve felt it, jumped to it, cried to it. It’s awesome what a melody is able to communicate in such a deep level, a level where sometimes words aren’t enough. I create music because I listen to music and I want to answer to it (if that makes sense).
As you just said, Northwest was born after you moved from Spain to London. How does the space or location affect your work?
Even though we live in an era where the online space is globalized – and it’s possible to live in a village lost in the middle of the mountains and be thriving as an artist thanks to the Internet –, I think the physical space is still very important. In music, it is not only important for the creative part of the process (the landscape, the people around you, the culture, etc.; everything serves as inspiration) but also for the live part of it. Here in the United Kingdom we have a better chance to encounter our potential audience or the kind of musicians we admire in a gig because most of them happen to live here. I think our album is highly inspired by our trips and experiences around this country. We’ve seen Mars-like landscapes up in Scotland, beautiful decadent coastal cities in Kent, snow storms, rain, woods in autumn and in spring full of flowers, huge cities like London where everyday there’s a concert or something going on, etc. Your physical environment inevitably affects you, and therefore your art.
Listening and watching to your track Reflection, set up in the universe of Nanook Of The North by Robert Flaherty (1922) and surrounded by the deep beauty and immensity of the Arctic, I was wondering, where does your passion for the deep North come from?
I think it has to do with the term ‘sublime’. In aesthetics, it refers to the ecstasy someone feels with the great and extreme beauty of the world. I don’t know exactly why we feel that way with northern and isolated landscapes. It’s like we feel vulnerable and deeply moved in a very irrational way. That’s one of the great things about being alive: some things don’t make sense at all (laughs).
After three singles, you’re about to launch your first album, Dimaryp. What does this represent to you?
We feel very happy, in a deep way. We’ve made this album in less than a year, with barely any money and no other support rather than ourselves. So it not only represents a great sense of accomplishment for us but it’s also a beautiful message to ourselves and to others (specially those independent artists who are struggling): you can make it. Regardless of what happens next, whether people like it or not, at least we have that, and that’s a really important first step to be happy in your creative life: the sense of will power and passion above yourself to being able to finish a ‘thing’. The second step is people responding to it, but that’s another story.
The album is made of an amazing eclectic combination of inspirations. Oscillating between contemporary classical music and trip hop; Portishead and Krzysztof Penderecki, it is something quite different from what you did before. What was your intention behind this project? Can you tell us about the story of the making of?
We moved to England and travelled around the United Kingdom, and then we locked ourselves in a country house outside London. We didn’t have the clear intention of making a record, we just started making songs, and all of a sudden we had a coherent album – which is funny because as you said we listen to all sorts of eclectic and random music –, but it all make sense as a whole: our music inspirations and those trips blended together. It’s magic.
After the album launch, you will be going on a tour around Europe. How do you want to bring the music from the studio to the stage? What are the feelings you want to communicate to your audience?
Concerts should be different than just hearing the album in your house or your car. It’s another experience and so we like to incorporate elements of theatre, dance and visual art to the performance in order to create a unique atmosphere. Right now we have a very little budget and we do the best we can with it, but we have big dreams for the future like bringing a full orchestra to tour with us or having an artist designing a cool light set up, or maybe even do something different with new technology like virtual reality. So, if you’re reading this and you’re an artist who would like to collaborate, call us (smiles).
Northwest has also a very strong visual aesthetic. Behind the music videos, Mariuca García-Lomas is creating an ethereal and enigmatic black and white visual experience inspired by experimental surrealist films from the ‘20s. How do you relate the image and the sound? Who does inspire your cinematic signature?
We not only hear music, but we see it when we’re creating a song. Music has a colour, a landscape. In our music videos and pictures, we try to recreate what our sound would look like. This may have to do with the fact that our generation grew up watching music videos on MTV and we’re also huge cinema lovers and admire a lot of film directors.
Melancholic nature is omnipresent in your work. It made me think about this quote of Debussy: “I have made mysterious Nature my religion.” What is your religion?
That’s a great quote and a very deep question. What is religion anyway? I’m about to sound like a know-it-all Lisa Simpson but I think a universal definition of religion doesn’t exist. But, if we take religion as a system or rules that help you live a better life then… I think ‘freedom’ would be a very good religion: freedom to make your own religion and reinvent it every so often, freedom to make the music you love, freedom to travel, freedom to choose, and even freedom from yourself, freedom to be whoever you want to be instead of who you believe to be.
How do you imagine Northwest in five years?
We would be very happy if in five years (and hopefully less) there are some people out there who understand us and care enough for the music and the art we make to support us. That really is our definition of success, because we don’t just make music for ourselves, we make it to be heard.
Northwest will be perform on Saturday September 30 at 9.30pm at Sala Costello, Calle Caballero de Gracia, 10, Madrid.