One of the best things about moving to another country is discovering all the new music, because there’s only so many times you can hear you can hear Taylor Swift on another night out. Sorry London!
One group that dominated our summer this year was Papa Topo after seeing them perform at Madrid Pride and Fiesta de Eixample here in Barcelona. So we figured it was time for us to learn more about this Spanish indiepop band and also mix them up with some of our childhood fantasies. Scroll down for our shoot and below that our interview with main man Adria…
Thanks again to David Montes for the amazing visuals…
Tell me where Papa Topo began…
In 2008 when I was 16, I wrote some songs for my boyfriend. I recorded them on my mac phone so they were awful, but he really liked them and told me I should upload them to Myspace. So I created a page, uploaded the songs and started to receive messages from bands I really liked, like La Casa Azul. They were saying that they loved what I was doing and that I had to keep writing songs. Then I started to do concerts in Mallorca, where I’m from. But I was really shy and hated playing live. So I played with people in my class and that was easier for me – but no one was permanent. People came and went.
So you were the spanish Destiny’s Child. Amazing. Did you have to kick people out?
Yeah it was horrible. But things don’t always work out how you want. There have been more than twenty people playing in Papa Topo over the years. Now there’s me, Oscar, Sonya and Julia. We’ve played together for four or five years. Before them I worked with a girl named Paulita who sang a lot on our early songs. She was really important to Papa Topo. But then I moved to Barcelona and she wanted to stay in Mallorca. We both started getting into different types of music, types the other didn’t like, so she left. It was a hard moment for me because a lot of people thought of her as a major part of the band. For me, I knew that Papa Topo was my pseudonym, so it didn’t make sense to start another band. But then I came to Barcelona and I met Julia, Sonya and Oscar…
What influences do you have when it comes to music?
Indie-pop from the 90s, lots of 60s stuff but the indiepop scene was very closed and a little snobbish. It’s a very hetero-scene. I prefer to be more open with my music.
I know you guys love to dress up. Has it always been like this?
At first everyone just dressed how they wanted but then we thought that was a little boring and we wanted to create a show that was more fun. So now we go to Humana and buy lots of rubbish for one euro. We have wedding dresses, communion dresses, like Sailor Moon’s dress. Haha…
Where does Papa Topo fit in Spain’s music scene?
The LGBT scene is a more recent thing for us as the last album was more disco. Before that we played mostly indie festivals.
Why more disco this time?
I wasn’t interested before, I guess. I don’t want to focus on one style. I’m very eclectic in my musical tastes so I like to switch it up and play whatever I want. In the last album you can hear influences of punk/pop, copla which is old Spanish folk music and bolero, well let’s of things. It’s a postmodern mix. I like baroque too.
There’s a real message of inclusivity coming through in the LGBT community right now. How does Papa Topo’s audience fit in with that?
Yeah our fans are the misfits. Haha…
And what about politics?
We have political views but generally there is not political discourse in our songs – well in some, but not much. But I guess everything we do is political so our message is there.
How do you find the LGBT scene here in Barcelona?
It’s difficult to find real alternative things. But there is a scene. It’s like anywhere 99% of the scene is Eixample which I don’t connect with so much. There was a party last week that was really alternative, it was called Mariconio, a pun on the words ‘mad house’ and ‘faggot’. It was really punky. There was a baptism with blood. It was for Halloween. The Dog was there too, you know the naked guy who’s always on his knees?
It feels like you have been more in the public eye recently.
Yes I think that’s thanks to the new album and Gay Pride. We’ve done other festivals too. But it took me eight years to complete the album and it’s a really important thing for every band. It only took two years to write and make but it was difficult to mix it – an exhausting process.
What’s your favourite part of being in a band?
For us, it’s playing live because it’s like going to party with our fans.