El Born to play Barfly


Written by Melz Durston
09 Monday 09th June 2014

Their debut album, in progress, contains eleven original songs, produced by Chris Potter (The Verve) and Dom Morley (Amy Winehouse).  Check out their single Kangaroo - grand, epic and rousing like the Chris Martin days of Parachutes.  Talking of Chris Martin, El Born have actually been highly heralded by Coldplay.

A series of happy coincidences lead to their fan-made video to one of their songs (1982) doing more than a marathon run around of the cyber-net, eventually making its way on to Coldplay's own official website.

And there's something in their work that grabs you.  It could be the classic American drive-by sounds that conjure up dusty highroads, cheap motels and hay barns.  It could be the vulnerable vocals on their debut track 1982 (the year when all the best things were born).  Whatever it is, you'll get to experience El Born in their true glory at Camden's Barfly on June 19th.

Melz chatted with Si from El Born:

Your sound is very American - conjures up filmic qualities, you can imagine road trips and love stories, woven in.  Have you spent much time in the States and how has this influenced your songwriting?

I've been inspired by the stadium sound in America.  We played some shows and did some recording over there in October last year.  There's a different mentality there, it's refreshing.  It's not a case of 'you'll be lucky if you get anywhere'...

Your band name comes from Barcelona's El Born district...

I love the El Born district of Barcelona and I wanted to create a band that sounded like the reds, the darks, the beautiful but ugly decay.  It also symbolises rebirth, new birth, which is what I needed as well, at that period.

When a fan made the video for 1982, what was your reaction and how did this change when you saw what happened with its exposure, eventually ending up on Coldplay's website...

At first, I was like "what the hell is this!" but it's not us looking all sparkly with some big film crew.  It's really endearing.

Selling sandwiches for a living and living in your car to make ends meet - do you think that this is a story that many musicians tell, to state their authenticity, and how was it in reality, to juggle the demands of ordinary life with making your music?

(Laughs) Yeah it does sound like an X-Factor thing. "You should talk about that!"  But it really was just necessity, having no money.  It wasn't even a nice car - a Ford Escort, all my clothes thrown in there.  Bought it for fifty quid.  I'd spend the day selling salads and then come back to my car.  I think the car packed up eventually, probably from my smelly feet!  Thankfully I got out of that situation fairly quickly, after a couple of months.

Why 1982 :)  Were you born that year?

I wrote 1982, yes, it is the year I was born!  It's kind of a love song, if I could just delete all the bad scenes that happened since I was born, like a film, how much time would it take to watch the nice bits..

Do you think half the battle is hard work, a vision and determination, and the other can be luck, chance and fate.  How do you reflect on your own life and mistakes and choices and the path you ultimately chose?

I think you have to hit the bottom before you can know what you really want.  For a lot of bands, for anyone, any singer, any industry seems to be really difficult to get into. There aren't as many opportunities.  So you have to get creative and try other things.  But also, stick to what you believe you can do.  It's the only thing I think I can do.  I dont think I could have been a silver service waiter! 

If I'd been successful fifteen years ago, I don't think I could have written the same songs.  You need a bit of disappointment in your life I think.

What might we expect from your debut album and how was it, to work with such acclaimed producers.  Were you already known to each other, to warrant contacting them asking them to produce your record?

I snuck in, during the car episode, I went crazy for a bit. I'd sort of been aware of him (Chris) and I know this is crazy, and it's not how it's done, but I told them I just want to hear some songs, if you don't like them, throw them out. They liked them and helped me build an album from there.  

Your new song You Made Me, and its video - how did this idea come about?

We worked with Indie Venture - we love her work.  There's an abstract theme that runs through all our stuff.  The idea is a 'knife and fork' couple, they're breaking out of the kitchen, going to see what the world is like...

The video doesn't say too much about us, it says just enough.  

A lot of bands, upcoming bands, they spend thousands of pounds on their videos - a good idea is a good idea, regardless of how much money you spend on it.

It hasn't been a smooth ride, for Si and Hils, but the bumps and potholes can only give them the armour that these scars create.  As Si said, before we put the phone down and they headed up to Coventry for their gig:

"You've got to make it happen.  You have to be very systematic in how you do things.  Bit by bit, you work at it.  Once you get there, it's more rewarding."

El Born play the Barfly on June 19th.

Tickets available here: www.elborn.org


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