SXSW Entry #9: Las Robertas - La Entrevista!

Costa Rica's Las Robertas were one of the busiest bands at SXSW, playing more parties than I could keep track of, so I'm grateful that they could spare some time to talk to me after their set at Shangri-La. Despite the band's self-diagnosed group ADD which punctuated our conversation with waving at friends and random bursts of laughter, I enjoyed hearing about their music, their plans, and their love for their home country.

Blanca Méndez: You guys just played Festival Nrmal, right? How’d it go?

Franco Valenciano: it was crazy, lots of people.

Mercedes Oller: Mexicans are fucking crazy. They made a mosh pit.

FV: But it was awesome crazy.

MO: Yeah, totally awesome crazy. We love Mexican crowds.

BM: Was that your first time in Monterrey?

MO: Yes, it was our first time in Mexico as a band.

FV: Actually, our first time outside Costa Rica as a band. It’s very exciting.

BM: And you have a few dates elsewhere in the U.S. after this?

MO: On the east coast. We’re going to New York and Philly. Should be interesting.

BM: I know this is your first tour. Where are you most excited to play?

In unison: Everywhere!

FV: It’s like going to a playground for us. We’ve never been outside our home, and it’s like staying at your friend’s house for the night. You don’t know what’s going to happen, and you’re excited about everything.

BM: It’s great that you’re getting a chance to take your music outside of Costa Rica. What’s the music scene like there?

MO: There is no scene.

FV: We have answered that question many times, and I think we’ve answered it wrong. There’s no audience, but the bands in Costa Rica are awesome. There’s a movement and a creative process in every band that’s insane. People should take notice of Costa Rica.

BM: What Costa Rican artists should people be listening to?

FV: The Great Wilderness, Niño Koi…there are lots of bands, and they’re all really good.

MO: Also, Zopilot, which is Franco’s other band.

BM: Would you say there’s a community of musicians?

MO: We’re all friends, so, yes, in that sense there is a tight community.

FV: It’s a really big movement in our country because it’s always been the same thing musically, but now bands are doing things differently. Playing important festivals and going to Europe, that’s a big deal for us. I hope we can open doors to Latin American artists, and in particular Costa Rican artists because I know for a fact that in Costa Rica there are some great, great bands. Costa Rica is a great country in every way, musically and artistically.

BM: What about your country do you think is so special and influences what you do and what other bands are doing?

FV: Everything in Costa Rica is really special. Our country is really different because we have lots of nature, no army. We have different things on our minds that make us create music differently.

BM: I know it’s still early in the tour, but anything crazy happen yet?

FV: Mostly just people making mosh pits and getting naked.

BM: So, pretty standard stuff.

MO: And there are tons of weird people in Austin.

BM: Austin is kind of weird people mecca. The crowd just now seemed really into your set, though.

MO: We’ve gotten a really reception so far.

BM: That’s great. I think all of Cry Out Loud works really well live because it has such a great energy. What was the process like putting that album together?

MO: On that album we were discovering our sound. Now, I think we’ve nailed it. We know where to go and what we want to do. That album was more experimentation. We really like it, but we like our new songs way better.

FV: We didn’t really have an approach, we were just doing what we like to do. We were just going with whatever happened. It came from our hearts, and it was nothing pretentious about it.

MO: We’ve grown up as a band, so songs are coming out darker now, yet more upbeat.

BM: That’s an interesting contrast. Can you explain that a little bit?

MO: Like, a darker overall sound in terms of the music, but more upbeat rhythmically.

FV: We’re writing lots and lots of songs, keeping some and throwing some away. We’re just trying to do something different, something that we like.

BM: A lot of people have been comparing you to bands like Vivian Girls and Dum Dum Girls. How do feel about that?

MO: We love them. It’s a total compliment.

FV: They’re much better than us.

MO: Vivian Girls are, like, the best band in the world. We really admire them, but I think we’re different. Maybe it’s because we’re a three-piece that people make the comparison, but I don’t think we sound similar.

BM: You played one song in Spanish during your set. Are you writing more in Spanish now?

MO: No, actually. We made that song in Spanish because it just came out that way. Like, if I knew German or he knew French, we might write songs in those languages. We don’t care about which language we write in. When it comes, it comes.

FV: Language is just a tool - a tool and a barrier. Whether we write in English or Spanish, it’s not politically motivated or anything. They’re just words.

BM: Are there certain themes that you like to write about?

MO: We just write things about everyday, normal stuff, like our relationships, other people’s relationships. In my case, I just start to imagine different scenarios. I put myself in different situations to write songs.

BM: So, it’s more of a creative writing process than a strictly personal one?

MO: Yeah, I like being able to make things up as I go and to tell stories, whether they are mine or someone else’s or no one’s in particular.

BM: What’s next for Las Robertas?

FV: We’re recording a new album and a new 7-inch and we’re touring in Europe. We’re especially excited about playing Primavera Sound. Really, we just want to keep on enjoying ourselves and making music that we like.