The Forasteros Interview – Music To Make You Dance, Laugh, Sing, Meditate …

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The Parque del Buen Retiro is home to the imperial statues of a lost Madrid and the heaving throngs of the present day Spanish capital, from the puppeteers to the balladeers, this great oxygen bank has opened its gates in much same way that they city has opened its metaphorical ones – to people from all over world with different tongues, stories, and different reasons for living in and loving Madrid. Enter Forasteros, an exciting musical group. International? Check. A fusion of styles and themes? Check. Not only that, they are talented musicians that know how to put on a show. I get to know the band in the lush environs of the park, while teenagers try to impress each other in the background, while families amble with their kids, while couples lounge lazily, and while tourists wear out the shutters on their cameras. All of whom, by the way, assemble around the band when the play music at the end of the interview. Told you they were good.

 

Hello – Hola – Kon’nichiwa – Bonjour- Bore da

Forasteros are comprised of six people, representing London, Cardiff (Wales), Kochi (Japan), Madrid and Matamoros (México). They loosely combine elements of folk, rock, pop and swing, with sprinklings of gypsy-jazz. Their international profile has spawned songs in English, Spanish, French and even Japanese, and they often translate their lyrics. Not only are the songs a menagerie of linguistic cues and nods, the members of the group bring different skills and interests to the table – Tom (guitar) is a jazz enthusiast; Hinata (bass) loves punk and experimenting with electronic music; Ricardo (clarinet) has a classical bent; Julia (violin) recently organised the live music for a swing and tango queer event in El Vaciador; Tara (vocalist) loves making people laugh, or even just herself; Fernando (drums) previously played in a Celtic folk band. They released their first EP Hello You! (available on Bandcamp and SoundCloud) last November, which they recorded at The Treehouse Madrid Studios.

It is little wonder that the band describe themselves as “culturally and musically diverse”. I ask if it is difficult to organize the band, but Tara and Hinata emphasize that proceedings have a democratic makeup, and everyone kind of ‘acts as a leader’. These guys are not afraid to push the boat out and are always experimenting (“as long as it sounds good, anything goes”, says Tara). The band also plays in different formations (Forasteros dúo/ trio) at smaller venues and jams.

Tara, the Welsh member of the group, informs me that this “is the best moment for Forasteros”. Most of the band, who all have full time jobs, have lived in Madrid for nearly 5 years – they all share a love of the city, whether it be for the people, the lifestyle, or for the plethora of musical opportunities on offer. Tara underscores this last point by recounting all the open mics, jam sessions and workshops that exist in Madrid.

It is always obvious when a band enjoy playing together, and a band needs that internal positivity before they can transmit something to a crowd and make them feel something. This groups of musicians share beers as well as notes when they rehearse, while they also have big rehearsal sessions where they have sleepovers, spending the weekend working and hanging out (they’re off to Valencia in Semana Santa). The bond they have built between them shines through in the interview, a bond that their audience appreciates. Hinata speaks about “making people happy” and Tara chips in by saying that it’s wonderful to see people humming or dancing to a Forasteros song and feel “connected” with the rest of the group. This special moment of kinship can arise when she looks at her bandmates as they share a stage or when she encounters fans, as happened at a recent baby shower. Fernando’s youngest son is an avid listener of Forasteros, guaranteeing that they will have a fan base amongst the new generation. The stories woven around the songs on stage afford the crowd at their concerts the special privilege of seeing the forces that influence the band.

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Songs to get your mind tapping and your heart dancing

Aside from having songs in many languages, their art touches upon social issues and psychology. Ser Anónimo (“Anonymous”, on the EP) is about the situation of homeless people in Madrid. Mindfulness Meditation is pretty self-explanatory and reflects Tara’s interest in mental health. While Hinata, a sociology student, loves “playing with reality” and likes binding logic into the internal language of a song. Hinata sums it all up rather aptly, “the band is reflecting reality, and we have 6 people’s reality“.

My favourite Forasteros song is On the Banks of June, a song shining with evocative lyrics and dripping with a wickedly ironic personality that calls in mind the panache of Duke Special and the murderous romanticism of Nick Cave, though this band has its own incomparable, unique voice.

 

Finding Forasteros

I remember two things from the end of the interview, disappointment at it being over and the sound of applause from the congregation of accidental listeners who could not pull themselves away from the tunes of the rather splendid Forasteros. To see more of them, they often do gigs around Madrid – in places such as La Tortuga, Taberna Alabanda, Collage Drinks Arts, Gato Verde, La Tabacalera, El Republik – and are soon looking to tour around Spain. They are active on Facebook, Bandcamp, SoundCloud and YouTube. The band, having released their EP Hello You! in El Intruso last year, are currently working on their forthcoming single. They recently recorded two videos with audiovisual collective Calle Sonora, to be released soon. They’ll be playing in Ambulante Perro Bar (Lavapiés) on Sunday 10th April (free entry), Mercado de San Fernando (Lavapiés, TBC) and Alive Music Bar (Sol) on Saturday 28th May.

So, as a self-appointed music reviewer, I give their songs 5 stars for the charm and delightfulness and 5 stars to people in the band for, well, the same reasons. They have a loyal fan base that they are ‘very appreciative of’ but they want become even bigger. It won’t be long before they blow up, and in the meantime Forasteros have a new fan – me.

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Possible new law of nature on the way

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The world of physics is excited about strong but early evidence about the behavior of muons, paricles identical to electrons only 200x more massive (heavier), which once born take 2.2 microseconds to decay into an electron, and which spin like tops. In a new, extremely precise measurement, they were made to wobble using magnetic fields but they unexpectedly wobbled quite significantly faster than the Standard Model suggests they would. They might spin so fast due to an unknown force caused by an unknown particle, and this is what is so exciting.

“We found that a muon … is not in agreement with our current best theory of physics at the subatomic level, and … it potentially points to a future with new laws, new particles and new forces in physics which we haven’t seen to date,” said Professor Mark Lancaster at U of Manchester.

“The main goal of the experiment is to make the measurement and compare with the theory, and if they disagree then it’s telling us that there’s something in nature which is not in the theory,” explained James Mott at Fermilab.

The four known forces of nature (gravity, electricity, two nuclear forces: strong and weak interactions) have left scientists without an answer for some observed phenomena, such as the speed at which galaxies spin (faster than the best model suggests). Therefore, they continue to search for glitches in their already-tight models which might point them things they don’t yet know about.

The most recent work was done at Fermilab (Muon g-2 experiment), but a similar experiment was already done earlier at the Large Hadron Collider. These tools accelerate particles in large rings at close to the speed of light.

The evidence needs more tests for greater certainty, particularly to rule out the possibility of a systematic error, and particularly with a new, independent experiment, but physicists will be chasing this line of experiment eagerly.

“This is outstanding confirmation of experimental technique, and very, very suggestive of the possibility of new physics,” noted scientist David Hertzon of U of Washington.

By the editors

#AnomalousMagneticDipoleMomentOfTheMuon #QuantumElectrodynamics

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People in Kachin state demonstrate against China

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YANGON, Myanmar – The people in the Pharkant area of Kachin state demonstrated against China this week, drawing a cross on the Chinese flag and burning a picture of Myanmar’s military leader Min Aung Hlaing.

“China stands with the military leader,” shouted the demonstrators.

By Htay Win
Photo credit Aye Yarwaddy

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Myanmar military council arrests the artist Zarganar

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YANGON, Myanmar – The artist Zarganar was arrested by the Myanmar military council from his home in Tarmwe township, Yangon this morning.

Zarganar is not only a director but also a comedian famous for political jokes since the 1988 democratic revolution.

Zarganar was arrested by the Myanmar military many times before 2010.

By Htay Win
Photo credit Zarganar page

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Kayin IDPs struggle to get for food

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YANGON, Myanmar – Kayin internally displaced people are desperate for food, clothing and shelter, hiding in the forest from the air strikes of the Myanmar military.

The IDPs fled to neighboring Thailand, but Thai government turned them back. However, Wednesday morning the Thai government opened Maeseli jetty in Maehaungsaung district to sending rations and medicines over the border to Kayin state, according to a Thai media.

By Htay Win

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Twenty Myanmar celebrities charged with incitement

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YANGON, Myanmar -They were charged under the country’s media law with inciting government employees to join the popular civil disobedience movement (CDM) through social media.

Celebrities took part in the NLD election campaigns and are thought to have played a large part in influencing the public, particularly Myanmar’s youth, to vote for Aung San Suu Kyi.

By Htay Win
Photo credit Myanmar celebrity

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