Anna Roig: "You have to know how to support yourself in bad times"

There are many ways of understanding music, and not all of them have to be good.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
17 March 2023 Friday 02:45
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Anna Roig: "You have to know how to support yourself in bad times"

There are many ways of understanding music, and not all of them have to be good. It can be a refuge or a pleasure, but also a condemnation that ends up dragging you along the floor. Anna Roig talks knowingly about these risks in Bringing beauty to the world, her first study work in ten years. Surrounded by a band of seven musicians including two members of Ombre de ton chien, the singer from Sant Sadurní, who offers a new image with short, undyed hair, covers in eleven songs the period of personal change that led her to leave the stage in 2016 to return now with a song of love to music loaded with sincerity.

Bringing beauty to the world is a very direct message

It is the declaration of intentions, I had stayed away from the stage all this time, although not from music because I have continued taking classes. The moment I decided to quit was hard, but I was very emotionally touched and everything that had to do with going on stage produced a lot of rejection because I didn't want to be exposed.

How did the change come about?

What made me get a taste for music on stage again was seeing concerts again and realizing that what those musicians were doing was bringing beauty to the world. Then I thought that what I had done had also been that, and I thought "value your music because you have also been bringing beauty to the world". Now what I want to do is thank music for allowing us to do this in a world that is often lacking in beauty.

It all starts with a retreat

I started experiencing music in a different way, I saw that what I didn't like about going on stage was not the music, but the pressure I had put on myself. When you make records you are not only a singer, you are also a composer and the manager of a project, and even though it was not a large-scale project the pressure was self-imposed because you want to fill the places where you perform, find others, and do everything right. You also have the feeling that people expect things from you.

At the end of the last album tour in 2016 I had the feeling that I didn't want to go back, and I wondered what would happen if I didn't. And I thought maybe there's nothing wrong, because we're glorifying being a singer as if it's a big thing, and as if a person can only be one thing.

And he folded

I was calm with this decision, but at the same time I asked myself "Who am I, if I'm not the one who makes songs and goes on stage?". I did a lot of personal work to accept that I am a lot like the Anna who goes on stage, but at the same time I wanted a time of more recollection.

How long did this pickup last?

Until 2019, three years after the last concert with Anna Roig and l'Ombre de ton Chien. It was with the La Tendresse project with Àlex Cassanyes that I returned to the stage, surrounded by 14 musicians, with Àlex's arrangements and the French songs that I like the most. I gave myself a gift to enjoy it without pressure. I didn't plan to make a new album either, and the pandemic came in the middle, and personal experiences like my mother's death. Until one day the manager came to me and asked me why I wasn't doing a second part of La Tendresse, and I thought "why do I have to do something I've already done?" Maybe it's time to make an album with the songs I have in my drawer.

Did you have the topics already written?

Some were made since 2017, the last one I finished a few months ago, and it is the one that cost me the most because I dedicated it to my mother. Other songs, such as Una abrazada de mare, I did in 2017 because when I stopped going on stage I enhanced my work as a music teacher, and above all I made a lot of music for babies. There I saw many hugs from mothers every afternoon and I realized what these hugs mean. If a child gets hurt and I go to comfort him, no matter how much I like him, he won't stop until the mother comes. When you grow up you realize that you have to give this mother's hug yourself, when you feel bad you have to know how to support yourself in bad times, you don't have to count on someone from outside coming. Of course you can let psychologists help you, but you have to do the personal work yourself.

How was this work in your case?

I did psychological therapy, also energy therapy, acupuncture and changing eating habits. When I finished the project in 2016 I suffered from depression with constant anxiety, unable to leave the house and even go back to my parents' house for a while because I didn't feel able to do things on my own. I didn't think this could exist, I didn't know what anxiety was, but I did the last two concerts having had crises the day before, and you get on stage and pretend that everything is fine. Luckily I had work with the babies, it's good to take refuge in a job where you feel useful and good.

Do you have a good time with babies?

They are great, they have no artifice, just like raja. If you're proposing something about music and they don't like it, maybe they'll go see the radiator, because they need to explore the world, and in class there's music, but there's also things to play, people to play with. You have to accept that everything is fine, you make your musical proposals but the audience in front of you may like what you do or not. I also apply this to myself now that I have published the album, I make a musical proposal and I care less than before whether I like it or not, I have changed the chip. If more or less people come, if we do more or less concerts, I don't care.

He has prepared the live shows very well

I did it with Jordi Casanova, who won last year's National Culture Award. I was directing a play called Tocar mare where my song Una abrazada de mare plays. Jordi is a specialist in taking things from real life and putting them on stage, and he was in favor of explaining exactly what had happened to me with this personal crisis, explaining that I had never intended to climb again on stage but in the end I ended up back there. We will start from this transparent thing, with a staging where the lights will play an important role, there will also be scenography, with a circular platform in the center.

The Ombre de ton Chien will not accompany it, or not all of it

There is Ricard Parera and Carles Sanz, the other two members of Ombre de ton chien un viu in Brazil, Magí Batalla, and Carles Munts is no longer involved in music. Àlex Cassanyes is the one who made the arrangements, we thought of adding a vibraphone, which is an unusual instrument, and which will be played by Andreu Vilar. We also wanted winds, El Jordi Santanach who plays sax and clarinet, Alba Careta on the trumpet and Alex Cassanyes himself who plays the trombone. Also Carla González on double bass.

She will be well accompanied

Now, if I go on stage, it's to give myself gifts, to do whatever creatively pleases me. Sometimes you talk to the manager and he tells me that if I went as a duo it would be easier to sell the show, but that's not what I want to express, I want it to have this artistic form and I allow it. Will I do less concerts? I do not care.

What is the difference between Bringing Beauty to the World and previous works?

There's this jazzy sound that's always been there. It used to be more pop, now it's a little less pop. Àlex Cassanyes has a very contemporary way of composing, and he makes music that I call very European, a jazz with many layers that could serve as a film soundtrack. There are some pretty gutted solos on this record, and I love that they're there. Moments of composition where the notes rub together, as in Com pote ser, inspired by my mother's illness, where there is a super stripped sax solo, and the winds responding all mixed together, it's bold and I really appreciate it.

Are you happy to have made the record?

I am doing it with great enthusiasm and I feel very supported by the management people and the musicians I work with. Now what I'm looking forward to is having as many opportunities as possible to make music with these people and share it. Beyond that I have no future prospects, I have seen that music can be done in many other ways, and just as I used to wish that the concerts would flourish and leave the music school, now I think about how lucky I was not to leave.