Interview: A Permanent Shadow
[gallery type="slideshow" link="none" size="full" ids="144428,144429,144430"] What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
My door into music was the album “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie which my older sister bought when I was ten years old. It was the first time that I got completely hooked by a record and consequently by the artist himself. Though it’s fair to say that Let’s Dance in hindsight is not Bowie’s greatest record, it was my entry point into the world of music.
I actually studied economics and am a trained grief counsellor, so if I was not a musician I’d probably be listening to other people’s sad stories instead of writing them myself, or maybe I’d waste away in a boring office job, who knows?
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I love strolling along the beach, especially off-season. The sea is an amazing provider of energy, and its sheer endlessness is very inspiring and humbling at the same time. That’s when I get some of my best song ideas. Solitude and vast spaces are what I find stimulate my creativity the most.
How long has your band been around?
I founded A Permanent Shadow in late 2017, and we released our first album “Songs of Loss” in late 2019.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I am based in Barcelona. The Mediterranean lifestyle is great, though I honestly don’t think it has had a big influence on my songwriting. My lyrics are rather bleak most of the time and musically my influences are mainly British and American. So no Flamenco or Rumba Catalana for me, thanks.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
A Permanent Shadow refers to dark spots on the moon, but also to the fact that after the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima the shadows of people were burned onto the asphalt. As the music is rather dark and gloomy, I thought it would be a fitting name for the project.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
The best show was definitely our album presentation here in Barcelona in March 2020. The place was packed, we sounded great and got a good reception from the crowd. The worst shows are probably the ones we didn’t get to play due to lockdown which started a week after said gig.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
Again, Sala Razzmatazz in Barcelona is an amazing venue. It holds a lot of history and everybody from Primal Scream to Suede and Editors has played there numerous times. Of course, there’s lots of venues and places that we’d like to play, such as Glastonbury or some other festivals, even though it were on a tiny tent stage.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
Right now, John Grant. He’s an amazing artist and it would be a privilege to share the stage with him. But I’d also be more than happy to open for bands like New Order, The Psychedelic Furs or Editors.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Make sure the music you play is heartfelt and not corrupted by thoughts about its commercial viability. Be open to other people’s suggestions and try to keep your ego in check. Music is communication, and if you let other musicians participate in the creative process it’s much more rewarding.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Believe in yourself and don’t let yourself be intimidated by the fact that there’s always someone more talented and successful than you. And don’t spend so much money on useless playlist promotion.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
There’s a song called “Sailor” on our debut album which I wrote about the passing of David Bowie. He was a real beacon of light not only in terms of songwriting but also in how he managed his career and took his audience on such an amazing journey of many highs but a few lows as well. The song is a big “Thank you”.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
We’re doing a cover of “Man From Reno” by Scott Walker which we keep quite loose with lots of space for improvisation, which I find very exciting. I’d say that our first single “Empty” is a definitive audience favourite.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I write all the lyrics and basic melodies and for the arrangements I work with two producers. I don’t play any melodic instrument – just a bit of drums and percussion – so I need other players to flesh out the songs. Luckily, I’ve established a modus operandi which works quite well. I work with one guy, Albert, on pre-production and with another, Valentin, in the recording studio. Albert plays keyboards and Valentin guitars and bass. Inspiration comes from various places, like my own life experience or something I saw on TV, or stuff that’s happened to friends. I am a bit into the esoteric and have done quite a few regressions and aura readings. These experiences usually provide a wealth of ideas.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I have no overall message to share, just observations and ruminations on life and my personal experience. Lyrically I’d say the songs are not happy-go-lucky although there’s always a glimpse of hope somewhere, so the message could be that all is not lost. Also, I talk a lot about change. Change requires courage, so there is a message of encouragement in some of the songs.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Well, in the case of A Permanent Shadow it’s a bit different to what you usually find in a band situation. We are basically talking about my solo project which I run under a band name, so I call the shots, although I work closely with the two above-mentioned producers who are quite opinionated and rightly so as they are much more accomplished musicians than I am. But whenever there have been disagreements, they never escalated into a shouting match. As I said before, as long as you are able to keep your ego in check, there’s always a solution.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
We’ll release our new single “Shining Star” and the accompanying video on September 24th and a new album in March 2022. You can check out www.apermanentshadow.com for details. We have already started work on the third record and a covers EP which we hope to release later next year. On the live front, no news to share yet, but hopefully we will bring our songs to as many venues and festivals as possible in 2022.