This month sees the 17th edition of Barcelona's Minifestival take place. The small-scale festival features nine acts performing over two days, and is arguably one of the city's littler music events, which, nevertheless, attracts performers from around the world as well as local musicians.
It takes place on March 30th and 31st, 2012 at Sala Underground (C/ de la Granada del Penedès 19) and the Centre Artesà Tradicionarius (Traavessia de Sant Antoni 6). All details at: www.minifestival.com
To mark the event, we asked some of those taking part to answer our mini questionnaire; read on for their answers.
1. How do you see the future of independent music? I see the future through very large, oversized, rose tinted shades. I hear all these stories from insiders telling me how the industry is suffering - CDs sales are down, vinyl is now a niche market etc. I don't collect statistics so I can't comment on all of that. I think the world is listening to music differently and success seems to be in the digital domain. Independent music appears to be doing pretty well there and smaller labels are standing their ground against the giants, which is always a good thing. It's a shame we've lost so many little record stores in the process but at least the more obscure artists can now be found online just as easily as mainstream music. I think they have to work at lot harder to get some presence in the media but that's nothing new. In reality, if the songs are good, people will find them eventually.
2. What does it mean to you to play at small festivals like Minifestival? I couldn't be more delighted. I love playing in Spain anyhow and these smaller festivals are a dream to play. They attract attentive audiences who really want to listen to the songs - that doesn't always happen at larger festivals elsewhere.
3. Tell us something else (apart from performing) you plan to do while in Barcelona I love Barcelona. I've been to most of main sites but my band haven't, therefore we'll do a whirlwind tour. I'd like to go to the Palau de La Musica Catalana. It looks so beautiful from the photos I've seen. We'll also drink and eat well, if anyone can recommend some good restaurants and bars.
4. Vinyl or MP3? Why? Vinyl will always win. I can hold it, feel it, break it - it exists. I can give it to someone as a present. I can put it on my record player and it sounds good loud. Also, I like the crackles in old records. As magical as MP3s are, they seem to me like very temporary bits of data that can be wiped out at any time. It's too expensive for me to get records made now but I do release CDs. At least they have some physical presence in a home.
5. What are the differences between audiences at home and those abroad?
It really depends on the venue. At home, some audiences are very grown up and listen intently. Others will talk all over your set if there's a bar in the same room. That doesn't bother me too much as long as I can hear the band onstage. It's very difficult singing to a crowd who are talking louder than the playback. Generally, I have enjoyed performing abroad more because I find that the audiences really appreciate you being there. Whether it's because we've made an effort to travel or you are better listeners, I'm not sure. The UK can learn at lot from the Spanish festivals, that much I do know.
1. How do you see the future of independent music? The future of independent music is looking vibrant in my opinion. The internet, although a threat to the music industry, cannot be ignored as it has brought great potential for up and coming bands to become known on a larger and, bizarrely, a more personal scale. It really has brought the world closer together. Major artists usually still rise to the top of the "pop" world due to marketing budgets and, of course, some level of talent but there is now, I believe, a wider spectrum of places where anyone can get their music heard and appreciated. This can only be a positive step. The next challenge is convincing the public to potentially respect it a little more and appreciate what the world is with music in it. Download MP3s from legal sites and visit your local venue or shop more often. In England, and especially in Oxford, we have an amazing independent scene and it is simply because people invest their time and money into it. We have an independent music shop, a few independent music venues and a couple of magazines. It's like the music industry on a micro scale. In turn, this makes the musical output better as it inspires and encourages artists to create something better.
2. What does it mean to you to play at small festivals like Minifestival? It is an honour to be asked to play at Minifestival. We thoroughly enjoyed a number of small festivals around the UK last year and there has always been something unique about each one. I am sure Minifestival will hold that unique charm that can get lost on a larger scale
3. Tell us something else (apart from performing) you plan to do while in Barcelona The architecture seems to be what everyone is raving about, we had a big chat at band practice about this the other day - Gaudi being the name that was thrown about. I myself had never heard of him but Steph and Josh appeared to be very excited. Plus, there is some sort of Ferris wheel, cable car type thing we also hope to see. Glad Sarah Nixey is playing the festival as well as I liked 'black box recorder' when I was growing up.
4. Vinyl or MP3? Why? Tough, both Rob and I love vinyl, our most recent release, the British explorer EP, came out on blue vinyl which was a pretty good day for us all. You can't beat the ease of MP3 though and the way it has changed the industry and the ability to hear music so easily. There will always be a cry inside for vinyl. I grew up listening to King Crimson and John Cooper Clarke records in the loft with my dad. He used to DJ locally back in the day so I guess I was lucky to be introduced to music on that medium.
5. What are the differences between audiences at home and those abroad? This is our first trip "abroad" as a band so we currently do not know the difference between audiences here and further afield. We have played outside England, we have been to Scotland and Wales, Edinburgh is an awesome city as is Cardiff but, that's still the UK isn't it? We called it our 'three countries tour' though. Maybe ask us when we get back. We will hopefully say something like, "Audiences abroad are so welcoming, they bought us all drinks, fed us so well and really appreciated our music and we would love to go back in the future."
1. How do you see the future of independent music? I think independent music and mainstream music will come more and more together with the help of internet, artists are feeling stronger and stronger and are starting to realize they don't need record companies to get their music heard, mainstream bands like Radiohead have opened adoor for mainstream bands (a door that was already open for indie bands)and that makes them more accessible, they are closer to us and everything that independent music represents.
2. What does it mean to you to play at small festivals like Minifestival? We love these kind of festivals, small festivals with giant people, these kind of productions are made mainly with love and so they are received with love, there's nothing better than playing in front of a crowd that has come to truly listen to your music and not just to get drunk and talk!
3. Vinyl or MP3? Why? Both! Vinyl is the best way of having physical music, we don't have a cd player or mp3 player at home, its beautiful to get home and un-sleeve your new album, watch how it turns as the song starts! But on the other hand having MP3s in your bag to listen to on the train to work is much more practical than when i used to carry my rucksack full of plastic CDs (not to say cassettes), the quality is completely rubbish, we know that, but my back is very grateful!
DARK DARK DARK
1. How do you see the future of independent music? Thankfully people are deeply touched by passionate performers sharing their art, (us included!) so there will always be a place for live music and performance, and a need for it in community, regardless of how big or small we're talking. If you mean how are people going to sell records, also, I don't know. I still buy our peers' records, and pay to go to shows, but torrents exist for pretty much everything. I know that changes everything, and puts more musicians in barista positions, and makes musicians more open to weird licensing opportunities, but people have to make it work, and some try to do it with integrity, and some do whatever, always. Wait, what? Haha, thanks.
2. What does it mean to you to play at small festivals like Minifestival? Size Matters! We're super excited to come to Spain, and the festival looks great. All of the performers make it look like a really intense and intimate experience.
3. Tell us something else (apart from performing) you plan to do while in Barcelona Maybe we'll track down Filastine and have tapas again.
4. Vinyl or MP3? Why? Both. We travel constantly and need small music, but also love vinyl at home. Vinyl is a great way to support artists 'the old-fashioned way'.
5. What are the differences between audiences at home and those abroad? Hm, I don't know. In Portugal, people were dancing and clapping before we started playing. Some cities in the US don't even know what dancing and clapping are, perhaps because of the climate, and the jackets they must wear all the time, or because it's risky to express yourself in joyous ways. What?! I'm just making things up. People are the same everywhere, most having fun and some throwing hatorade. Sorry for the sarcasm. Excited to arrive in Barcelona, thanks!!
1. How do you see the future of independent music? I think that independent music has always exist and will always exist even in a confidential way. The problem is how to continue to record it, which has certain cost for those who makes it, and in a same time that the music is getting more and more accessible in a free way: this is a problem for those who make it. How is it possible to continue in this way? And I don't even talk about winning some money with... So, it's important that such festival as the MINIfestival exists!
2. What does it mean to you to play at small festivals like Minifestival? I love to play in Spain cause my music has a great reception here. Small or biggest festivals, I don't make the difference, it's a pleasure.
3. Tell us something else (apart from performing) you plan to do while in Barcelona Seeing a Spanish friend I met on the Camino de Santiago, eating tapas, seeing the sea, looking at Gaudí's architecture and strolling through the city without any particular purpose.
4. Vinyl or MP3? Why? Neither. I'm coming from the generation of the CD and that's still my way of listening to music. But if I had to choose, I'd say vinyl for the quality of the sound which is incomparable with the sound too much compressed of MP3.
5. What are the differences between audiences at home and those abroad? The audience at home is more listening to the words and the meaning of them. The audience abroad is more listening to the music and what energy is running through it.
1. How do you see the future of independent music? Independent music has been nothing but growing for quite a long time now, and it's gonna go on like that. It´s no longer a must for musicians to be signed to a record label in order to move their music. The internet and the fact that you can nowadays have a 'studio' at home (even if it's very basic) make it posible for more artists to record and show their music to the world - without having a big budget to do it. I think it's a very interesting moment right now because the whole music industry is changing.
2. What does it mean to you to play at small festivals like Minifestival? To play at festivals in general, small or large ones, is always interesting because it's a chance to reach a wider audience. People normally attend festivals just as much to see concrete artists as to discover new ones. So therefore, as a performer, you can show what you do to an audience that might never heard about you before. Apart from that, it´s always a rich experience to share stage with other artists, because you get to know new people. It's a way of networking.
3. Tell us something else (apart from performing) you plan to do while in Barcelona I'm Danish, but I've been resident in Barcelona for quite a while now, so this is my everyday city! I'll do what I usually do; surf the city to do stuff, meet with friends and make music!
4. Vinyl or MP3? Why? Quality wise: Vinyl! No doubt about that. MP3 is compressed and digital; vinyl is analogue. So if you have good loud speakers the difference is brutal. It's a whole different listening experience when you put on a vinyl record. With the risk to sound old fashioned, I think that with all the playlists or random reproductions we often listen to on computers, telephones and MP3 players, we sometimes forget to really LISTEN to the music. To listen to a vinyl record is a more physical action; you have to choose the record, put it on, turn it around when one side finishes. To me it's a much more active listening act. But nevertheless, MP3 is a very practical format and I wouldn't be without it. For one reason because that's what makes it so easy for artists to promote and distribute their music. So both!
5. What are the differences between audiences at home and those abroad? Every time you play a concert the audience is different; no matter what city or country. The atmosphere on the night, the venue and the people gathered always change. But ofcourse, when you play in your hometown you will likely have friends and family among the audience, and the atmosphere tends to be quite cosy from the beginning. So you don't have to “win them over” the same way as with an audience compound only by strangers. But I think it's always exiting, no matter what audience, and I actually like the “win them over” part of performing.