Elene climbs and descends the vocal notes with the ease of a stair climber. It nuances without apparent effort between waves of gentle wind. In addition, Tenpora is the crossroads of instrumentalists with a proven technical and plastic training. This is the case of Juantxo Zeberio, piano, Hasier Oleaga, drums, Itsaso Etxebeste, bass and Beñat Barandiaran, electric guitar, instrumentalists with a long career and proven ability to face demanding projects.
Tenpora leaves tons of sensitivity in the ten tracks that “Itzulika” contains, both from the side of the score and for the lyrics contributed by Harkaitz Cano, Karlos Linazaroso, Zeberio himself or Barandiaran.
Voice and piano-keyboards make up the first line of courtship towards the listener. Elene Arandia interprets in a warm tone, a color that does not prevent her from facing rough, demanding passages, such as “Munduko hiritar”. No problem, the singer from Tolosa can handle all the tests and achieves it with surprising ease, an ideal cross between natural conditions and training. From the back line, sometimes avant-garde, Zeberio nuances and relaxes with piano, melodic and various keys. Oleaga always has well-adjusted blows, it seems that there is no battery because it does not crush, it defines. Etxebeste by his side setting the pace, generally slow, close to dreaming. And Barandiaran devising fragile notes, frowning soloists that are not easy, but that adjusts them to the climate and global aesthetics brilliantly. One of the best examples happens in “Belarretan etzanda”, although there are a few songs that destroy the soul, whether or not it exists. no: “Munduko hiritar”, sublime, or “Lesbos”, “Lampedusa”, the farewell with “Argiak itzali” or “Itzulika”, direct text and perhaps the most quedona.
In total, more than an hour of complex cataloging, as Tenpora develops its extensive interpretations – songs of more than six minutes typical of symphonism-prog, between sublimated jazz, pop, rock or even folk, classical and new age touches.
Does the work scheme continue as in the beginning? Juantxo Zeberio creating the melodic bases to the keys, you looking for the naked vocal melody and the rest dressing?
Elene: The vast majority of the songs, or melodies, are composed by Juantxo and almost all the lyrics are the result of the collaboration with Harkaitz and Karlos. Once that first job is done, the one on the premises begins. Those songs that Juantxo brings naked from his house, are shot, played, molded, until they acquire a direction, a texture and a sound that convinces us. It is a very organic, natural and sincere process. At that moment the nuances, colors, intensities emerge … That is when Tenpora comes into play. We maintain that dynamic of work, the weight of the letters is carried by the writers, although the other members have also begun to create, to write.
Tenpora is not a simple project for a vocalist, they are not classic pop songs, perhaps Juantxo Zeberio will give her clues on where to go, but her contribution seems especially worthwhile since she has little less than to turn the voice into another instrument, with her complexity.
Elene: Juantxo sends me the initial melodies or the songs recorded with the piano; I listen to them, I try them and I internalize them, and then I go to her house to try them and play with different options within the range, tones, colors … We record them again and start with the local work. During this process, I naturally assimilate the song and reflect on the contribution of the voice to the union of all the instruments. Each of us takes the opportunity to taste what he has prepared, what the melody has suggested to him or even what has inspired him at that moment. The opinion of colleagues is also important and helps you, we are very sincere with each other. It is not easy, but I try not to obsess during this process because I believe that the essence or the magic can be lost, so I / we / we let ourselves be carried away by the first impulse and the feeling of listening to myself together with my companions. Sometimes I just need to listen to them silently to continue to inspire me. Having a rehearsal, a session of Tenpora during the week, within the routine of each one, is a luxury. Seeing them play relaxes me and excites me because, above all, they are very good musicians.
Difficulty that does not end there, since he must make the dizzying, poetic lyrics his own –without losing the profile of reality–, by two writers like Harkaitz Cano and Karlos Linazasoro, who were already impressive on the first album, but on «Itzulika» they were not. they lower emotional tension. We do not know what it can feel like to receive these letters, internalize them.
Elene: Excitement and restlessness to have in hand some texts that to begin with are unpublished. The lyrics are still poems and I try to read them with a certain distance. But, the hardest part, I think, is always making them yours. In this process, I am fortunate to have felt a special connection with what I read, and this makes the work easier. Then I imagine my voice singing them, and I just let it flow (better or worse) on that first impulse.
The soprano sprouts, among others, in «Lampedusa», regardless of the sensitive, perhaps it is one of the interpretations that most demand of her, although with her range of voice everything seems that the difficult thing is reduced to the simple fact of standing in front of the microphone .
Elene: You’re right. “Lampedusa” is one of the most demanding performances of the entire repertoire. The album has come at a time when, in addition, physically I have been somewhat weaker than usual due to a small health problem that I had days before starting the recordings. But the lap was very exciting, and I feel stronger and more energetic than ever. It is not a type of music in which, unlike other styles, the voice stands out at first sight. The voice is like a whisper that narrates, as if it were an eye that sees everything, which suddenly starts to scream. Therefore, I would say that it is an expressive voice. Of course there is work behind it, but part of a knowledge that I have acquired over time. I have internalized vocal technique, singing is something natural for me, but it is not just a hobby. I sing every day, and it is also part of my job.
Do you like to analyze other vocalists close to you? Do you silently think that you would give them any advice? Doesn’t it seem that singers rehearse their “instrument” the least, that perhaps they think it requires no preparation?
Elene: My main instrument is the voice, so it is inevitable to notice. I have the feeling that singing is about a world in which everything seems to count, and in which opinions are expressed, most of the time, without hardly knowing it. When judging other instruments, I observe that a technical basis is always referred to in this sense. Anyone who begins to play a guitar or drums, for example, learns how to play their instrument, how to move their hands or fingers, and in singing, however, this part does not count as much to start getting on stage. . For me, knowing how to breathe from the diaphragm, modulating the voice or not getting out of tune are essential elements for a singer; a knowledge that we should receive from an early age even to know how to speak, or that at least, professionals who dedicate ourselves to working with the voice should be especially interested. We are seeing that it can have very serious consequences.
Two years have passed since «Mundu berria», you are seduced by soul, jazz, cabaret (there is a small sample on this album), even some female bet oriented towards symphonic metal (Tarja Turunen) … Do you continue with those stylistic drifts?
Elene: Fortunately, many styles of music seduce me and all of them are different proposals. My ear leads me to hum classical music melodies, I like Norah Jones, Chan Marshall (Cat Power), Radiohead and James Brown, Blossom Dearie, Billie Holiday, from time to time I go back to Ute Lemper or Liza Minnelli, to the early years of Tarja in Nightwish… At the moment, Tenpora is the group to which I dedicate the most time, although I do not stop collaborating and working with other artists or projects that arise. I combine my work as a journalist and translator with that of a singer.
Long developments predominate. There are no concessions to the dominant.
Juancho: They are songs with long developments, composed of intimate parts and more intense parts. Disturbing moments, and others more kind and grateful, like life itself. But there are situations around us that hurt, and we think they ask for songs that hurt too. It is difficult for us to speak of human tragedies, of the people who are dying by the hundreds in the Mediterranean while we dedicate ourselves to making songs in the heat of our home and also thinking that in this way we contribute something in this tragic escalation of which we somehow form Part, if only because we are the privileged of a first world that from time to time observes the images on a phone with horror and is scandalized seeing what happens not so far from us, Because as Harkaitz says in the presentation text: “What is Europe but a multitude of grandchildren of a multitude of fugitives?” It’s hard to talk about it without sounding hypocritical, but even harder for us is to do it with a standard three-minute pop-verse-chorus song. The song “Itzulika” places us in the current Euskal Herria and could well synthesize the message implicit in this work. The world continues to turn, conflicts, power struggles, money, our people … they turn and turn, but they are always in the same place, repeating the same mistakes in a spiral with no signs of an end.
Elene: In this reality, somewhat epicurean, and faced with “impatience” we lose many nuances that, however, we should enjoy.
Tenpora is difficult to classify and disturbing. Wondering what they are? What is your proposal?
Juancho: Honestly no. Unlike! We like music and Tenpora is an important adventure in the eclectic musical life of each one. It is the search for a sound that we do not know very well what it is or where it is. Tenpora is the way and there is no goal in sight; In this way our influences, interests, limitations, virtues, philias, phobias are mixed … It is our most sincere version.
What pianists seduce you?
Juancho: Bill Evans, Keith Jarret and Brad Meldhau are the abc. I walk away to go back to them cyclically. From there, from Rubén González to Norah Jones, through Robert Glasper or Bach. But I’m more and more interested in music without a piano, surely, to keep a distance. Music with different textures, shapes, colors. I need to be surprised, if only because of the simplicity that Radiohead, Ethan Everson, Penderecky, Arvo Part, Mikel Laboa … and again Bach exude.