Castles In Spain
'This Castle's Foundation Really RAWK's!'
Visionary artists like Biachi, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for the popular Bay Area based band Castles In Spain, frequently have a hard time trying to describe their music to industry reps who would love nothing more than pigeonhole them.
But after three previous, critically acclaimed independent recordings — and gearing up to release the band's eagerly anticipated fourth collection, Again — she knows her art well enough to find just the right words to sum up CIS's edgy but ethereal, cool but otherworldly brand of modern rock.
“We have a unique sonic agenda, incorporating everything from tribal rhythms, cinematic and atmospheric vibes and even some Middle Eastern flavors into a style that's very soulful,” she says. “My lyrics go deep into a lot of emotional issues as well. When I was younger, I listened to a wide range of artists… Annie Lennox, U2, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, The Cure…and I was moved by a lot of different styles of music."
Chatting recently with Biachi, and I first wondered what it was about her songwriting that made each song so unique, so intense, so expansively complete? "Well, I have to say that my songwriting is inspired by life itself ... specifically people, animals, culture, art, compassion, neglect, motives, intent, fear, emotion, passion, reality itself, and I believe that human beings offer something individually unique, intense & expansive. This inspires me to write about something I either observe or something that has been bottled up inside me. Wow, I hope I answered your question?"
Yes, you did ... and For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying your upcoming 'Again' CD, how would you yourself describe your sound? ""Hmmm~ We are soulful, melodic, sometimes tribal, sometimes ethereal, with passion in the music & the lyrics. Also, there is a Spanish + Middle Eastern vibe in the music. The CD was mixed with a very "live" feel. No overproduction fluffy stuff in the mix. Just balls out, excuse me, OVARIES out in your face music."
Your album title 'Again' is an interesting choice, but perhaps it originates from a more personal standpoint for you? "Yes, it does & for anyone out there who is going thru some changes in their life too. Our ability to start to "live" again despite the hurdles, the roadblocks or obstacles that we encounter in this journey on earth. I do have to say though, that this is how we evolve, grow & become complete. Damn, do I sound like a New Age hippy? Hope not, I am SO not!"
If there was one track on 'Again' that truly encapsulated Castles In Spain at their musical and lyrical finest, which one would it be? "I cannot say which song is the "finest." I will leave this up to the listeners. My personal favorite is 'Again'."
Is it true that one of these new tracks is actually written about a friends Mother-in-Law?! "Yes, "Look In Her Eyes." I was incredibly inspired by my friend Neese's (my first drummer) mother in law "Betty" & her daughter Debra as well. I was in staying with them in Santa Monica getting ready for a gig that we had on Sunset later that night. Neese was doing the show with us. I was excited to play with him again. Anyway, I broke a string at their house while I warmed up. After I changed this string, I just started playing trying different things in order to stretch the strings. Within minutes, this entire song just came out. I started thinking about their mother Betty who had recently suffered a stroke. She was really struggling to just walk, eat, speak, and I felt incredibly drawn to her. Her daughter Debra takes care of her, preparing her meals, tying to get her to to laugh, ya know, being strong & supportive for her mother. Debra cares for both of her parents. She is just awesome. While Debra prepared her moms meals, Betty & I would hang out in the den & just look each other in the eyes communicating without one word. It was so moving to me. She would look me in the eyes from her chair sometimes smiling, sometimes a tear or two would fall & it got to me & my heartstrings immediately. Hence, the music for "Look In Her Eyes." The entire weekend inspired this tune lyrically. I got food poisoning the next day & I was sick for hours into the next day. It was awful because while I am sick as a dog in the bathroom that lies between 2 rooms, I hear Betty laughing non-stop as I puked. This made me laugh as I puked. So, there is a line in the song "She laughs at her sick friends, at her sicks friends & makes them feel better" which is a sick Biachi in the bathroom while mom laughs inspired song."
Noting that you also do work for Women Who RAWK, please do tell us more about this and what you actually do for the event "Women Who Rawk is an annual event that my right hand woman Alexandra & I started a few years back in 2001, after 9/11. I wanted to throw a benefit for The Twin Towers Orphan Fund to raise funds for the children who lost their parents in that tradegy. It was just a couple months after 9/11, and I returned from Europe & Castles In Spain was about to have the Numero Tres CD Release party. I honestly felt strange celebrating a CD release, pretending that everything is okay and how "the show must go on" attitude without feeling self absorbed & selfish. So we decided to combine the release & a fundraiser and I booked all female fronted bands. In the next couple years I chose to hold the annual "Women Who Rawk" Breast Cancer Fund raisers in order to create awareness of the increase in breast cancer & how this needs as much attention as possible. Last year, Women Who Rawk was a benefit for my friend Diana Wolf. She was in recovery from Hodgins cancer. In fact, she was able to fly to San Francisco from Mexico City and join us on stage for a song just days after finishing radiation & the most intense part of her chemotherapy. She is one of my most recent mentors in life because of her ability to not dwell about the fact that she got cancer & she just keeps going on full force with her life and her music & performing."
It's been quoted that listening to your CDs is like going to therapy ... do you think the same and if so how many 'musical sessions' does one need to feel better about themselves?! "Well, I definitely feel better after performing both on stage and in the studio. The studio is like many sessions of therapy & on stage is like a immediate release of everything inside my body. I guess you can call this immediate gratification emotional & physical therapy. ;) I cannot guess how others are really reacting deep down inside, but when I see pictures of the audience when we are playing, everyone looks like they are definitely deep inside their individual stories. To me, this is such an amazing vibe and this definitely comes back to me."
Just for fun, and taking the titles of a few of your album tracks, please let us know:
'My Nerves' - OK, just what does get on your nerves in/about life?! "Hmmm ... Ok, drivers that are in a hurry to go nowhere that run red lights, tail gaters on the highway, whiny/negative people, passive women that let men run all over them, macho men that think they're "God's gift" to the world, people who litter when there is a garbage can next to them, people who do not recycle, impatience, lack of compassion for those less fortunate, ya know, I could go on, but then I would sound whiny! ;)"
'What's Your Sign?' - What is your astrological sign and what kind of a person does it make you?! "Aquarius. We get along with just about everybody, always looking for the good in people first & foremost. Also, we are known to being non-conformists & a bit "zany." We are independent thinkers for sure~"
'Dreary Daze' - When was the last time you were in a dreary daze and how did you get yourself out of it?! "A week ago after I had to put my first cat I rescued in San Francisco put to sleep. She lived to be 17 years of age & I am still in a bit of a daze, and hopefully my answers to this interview is not too "out there"."
What '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! "Well, I am actually in the process of recording a song from the 80's by The Eurythmics called "Love Is A Stranger." I just love the lyrics and I love the minor chords in this pop tune. I love poppy songs that are very melodic but still have a dark sound in the compostion."
Lastly, I like Penguins ... do you?! "Love them they are ADORABLE beyond belief! Maybe you & I will come back as penguins in our next life right?"
Maybe ... maybe :-) And thank you again for doing this for us today, and we wish you all the best for the future "No, thank YOU so much for this interview."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Castles In Spain's brand new CD and you think you know all there is to know about Biachi, just answer this easy question: Biachi's dad met her mom when he was stationed where and in which country?
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great new and AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before July 1st with your answer and the subject title 'CASTLES IN SPAIN SIGNED CDs' to: email@example.com
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