It is a concept; a constant need to deconstruct the reality. ‘Cause we’re not happy with it and need to create our own constructions. – Patryca Proniewska, Belgrado.
There is something innately primal about Belgrado. While it’s easy to feel nostalgic when taking in this Barcelona-based post-punk outfit, the band takes you somewhere deeper.
Obraz, their recently released third full-length, is even akin to a spiritual experience —connecting the core influences and origins of this four-piece with the world around them. They tore down their egos and re-built themselves — and their music — to reflect their base ideologies. “Reality is a construction that we ourselves create,” Belgrado, 2016.
Jess Willoughby chats to vocalist Patryca Proniewska ahead of the band’s first Australian and South East Asian tour.
What’s Belgrado been up to since Siglo XXI was released in 2013?
I think the most exciting moment was the tour around South America in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. 11,000 kilometres in 25 days, lots of crazy adventures, amazing energy at the concerts, lovely people and plenty of stories to tell. Shortly after, we played some concerts in Greece and Turkey and then decided to have some holidays from touring. The calm time came and we closed ourselves in the rehearsal room to begin the writing process.
Obraz is out now via La Vida Es Un Mus. Has it lived up to your personal expectations of what you wanted for this release?
We worked the album for about two years after we came back from a South American tour. It was a time of searching, musical exploration and feeling free about music creatively. Obraz appeared as the fruit of this process and we’re very happy with the result.
You’re in the middle of a massive tour throughout Mexico and the U.S. Any interesting tour stories you can tell from your time with the band?
Let’s move to the high mountain range of Los Andees. The Los Libertadores border pass between Argentina and Chile, where an officer decided that our car couldn’t enter Chile because it wasn’t our car — we borrowed it from a friend. He said we can cross the border but the car stays in Argentina. So our two friends drove back to Argentina and we started hitchhiking to get to Santiago de Chile. It was freezing cold and getting dark, but finally a really nice guy gave us a ride because he came to Argentina with a big van to buy a windsurf board.
In a few days we were going to meet the rest of the crew in Cordoba, Argentina, but while on the bus going back through the mountains it started to snow and the pass — which is one of the most dangerous curvy routes in the world — was closed for the next week. We had to catch a flight to Buenos Aires and then drive for 20 hours to the next show, close to the border with Paraguay!
It was an intense time, but worth all the effort to get to Chile. A few days later during one of the last shows on tour, I broke my leg while dancing around the people. These are only a little example, but every day of that tour was full of adventures like insane storms or sucking out gasoline so our car didn’t explode!
Do you have any favourite cities you like to play in the States?
I’m excited to visit LA, Portland, New York, San Francisco and Oakland because we will see all our dear friends! And also other places like San Antonio or Pittsburg, because we’ve never been there.
Belgrado are also touring Australia for this first time this October. How did that come about?
We were planning a Japanese tour and I was talking about it with Lewis from No Patience records. He asked me if we’d like to use the opportunity of also playing in Australia. Of course we were very excited about it, then we also planned a few dates in South East Asia. Lewis helped us with everything regarding the tour so if not him it wouldn’t happen!
We’re excited about everything in Australia cause it seems so far away and no one of us has ever been there. I’m personally really looking forward to driving through all the landscapes! And we’ve love Australian bands like Total Control, Prag, Rule of Thirds, The Saints, Pisschrist and Diat!
AUSTRALIAN TOUR 7″ PREVIEW:
Obraz was self-recorded, once again. Why was it important to keep the process in-house?
We recorded Obraz in February in the basement I was living during some months. After the eviction of mine and Jonathan’s (Sirit; drums) house we were squatting for five years, I ended up in our friends’ — Barcelona band Una Bestia Incontrolable — basement. It is called La Cova and it is an amazing space with a screenprinting workshop and a recording studio; totally DIY-constructed by the Una Bestia boys.
It was nice to record at home. I could just wake up and stay in my pyjamas and then make lunch for the boys and feel like at home during this important process. Every recording we learn something more, so there are some little differences in the recording process or the effects we use.
It was always important for us to record ourselves; we like to be in control of our sound and our creation because the effect is closer to our expectations — but also it is hard work. Also it may bring up some tensions between us because it is an intense process and the mixing lasts for a long time. We will see how we do it in the future, we don’t discard the idea of recording with another person that would understand our vision and would have enough patience for us.
Tell me more about the recording process. What did you find most challenging about recording Obraz?
After the whole day of recording — each person had one day — we would smoke some marijuana and then experiment more. That’s how Krajobraz was created. This track was a surprise for all of us and this was totally new way of recording—something you didn’t plan at all.
First Jonathan recorded some cymbals, then Renzo (Narvaez) was touching the bass and, in the same moment, I was making a bass mix with the different pedals to transform it to the wave of the ocean.
The next day, Fergu (Fernando Marquez) recorded windy guitars and then I recorded abstract and processed voices, mixed with indigenous instruments that came from different islands of the Atlantic Ocean. And also a triangle processed through delays; that was always my dream.
We heard the waves, the ocean, the wind and different element of the landscape, so we decided to call the music Krajobraz — which means ‘a landscape.’ We always have technical challenges because we don’t have great equipment to record and it produces troubles. It’s a fulfilling but also exhausting process.
We try to learn to communicate in these situations. I think creating Krajobraz was a total trance for me and quite an excitement. Other highlights were just sitting down together by the table and enjoying a calm moment of eating together and having some wine or having a nap on the sofa outside of the studio.
Your third full length took two years to pull together. What influences did you and the band draw from to write this release?
We come back to the moment just after our Brazilian tour in the summer of 2014. I think it was an important event in our lives; coexisting for a while with the Brazilian spirit. We came back from this tour with a different vision and way of looking at the world and it also influenced our music-making process.
We were feeling way more free and open to mix different influences. We would get totally stoned and play all night long. During that time, we were experimenting playing different styles of music we like apart from post-punk. We made some crazy practice recordings of whatever we felt and played at that moment. All this made us feel way more free and flexible about genres.
I think all this let us feel free from the schemes of creating our music and resulted with the Obraz LP. The way we wrote the songs on the new record is way more free also. We were just playing without talking, just communicating through the music in a telepathic way.
We feel it’s a next step and it feels like you can understand the atmosphere of the album really similar to how we did — which is rewarding. This album definitely was written in a time of transition.
The album is exclusively sung in Polish, which differs from earlier releases. Was this a formal decision you made for this release?
I’m a Polish woman, so on this album I decided to only sing in Polish. Before I was mixing both English and Polish. Polish it is not an easy language to sing in, but it is the most natural for me. Especially since my lyrics are more like collages of thoughts and automatic writing, so it’s the easiest to perform it in my native language.
What’s become your favourite Belgrado song and why?
It depends on the moment, but right now my favourite song is Raz Dwa — one of the two songs that will appear on the seven-inch we’re going to release with No Patience records for the Australian tour. Raz Dwa means ‘One Two’ and the song describes the concept of the running out of time. It tells about how we’re running and rushing against the clock and running toward the edge. When we get to the edge we stop and we count: one, two.
Where does the title for the new album, Obraz, stem from?
Obraz comes from another song, Nierealne Realne Społeczeństwo (Unreal Real Society), where I repeat this word 16 times in the end of the song. Our bass player got very curious about this word because it reminds of another word in Spanish with a totally different meaning. Obraz means ‘image’ and this record talks about the image of the world we see and exist in, including all its fragments and visions. So we decided together to name it this way.
The band provided a mission statement about the album which refers to the ‘deconstruction of reality’ and starting again. Why did you decide to dictate this?
Deconstruction of reality is not only important in our music, but also in our art apart from music (graphic arts, photography or video). It is a concept; a constant need to deconstruct the reality. ‘Cause we’re not happy with it and need to create our own constructions. We created this short note made from the collages of the lyrics or thoughts we have about this record to transmit to the people a bit deeper what we feel. I think Obraz is more than just music to us—it is a meaningful construction of our existences.
The artwork for this album was a collaboration between yourself, drummer Jonathan Sirit and Camila Dunster. How did this come about?
The artwork is consisted from the images of fragments of the world (which is a title of another song from the album). The idea was evolving with the time—from the beginning we had a general idea only.
I created a series of these fragments, also deconstructing reality. Then I passed my work to our friend from Argentina, Camila Dunster, that created her own collage constructions from the textures and figures of my photographs. Then our drummer Jonathan had his influence in the images, putting them all together and creating the typography and all the artwork of the record. The record comes with the book with all these images.
Belgrado are touring Australia for the first time this October. See them at any of these dates:
Oct 1: Perth, The Boston
Oct 2: Adelaide, The Metro
Oct 6: Melbourne, The Tote
Oct 7: Melbourne, Bar Open
Oct 7: Melbourne, Yah Yah’s (late show)
Oct 8: Canberra, The Phoenix
Oct 9: Sydney, The Valve Bar
Oct 10: Brisbane, The Bearded Lady