And so we have arrived in 2021. After an intense and challenging 2020 with plans, a lot of online meetings, shifting and rethinking, Chloë Nols, KRANKLAND and Korneel Muylle & Slow Lee each managed to deliver 2 new songs, a video clip and a lyric video for Introspection Music Experience. There would then be at least 3 gigs in Belgium with them in the fall of 2020. Unfortunately, everything went on lockdown here and we were unable to organize them.
But not to worry : creativity was called upon and a series of online activities are set up. In Museum Dr. Guislain in Ghent, KAOS found a great partner to organize all this.
From one of their museum rooms, an online concert with the 3 artists will be broadcasted here on 25/2/2021 at 20:00. Besides the IME songs, they will also perform some of their own songs, together with some interviews. All this in front of and between the magnificent works of the Museum Dr. Guislain.
In addition, KAOS organizes a KAOS Film and KAOS Talk evening at each residency within their residency program. In October we already organized a special IME edition of KAOS Film and Chloë, Thomas/KRANKLAND and Korneel/Slow Lee each chose a short film. During the evening organized in the KAOS studio they introduced it and there was room for a vivid discussion with the audience.
On 29/01/2021 the first online KAOS Talk took place from the Museum Dr. Guislain. For this KAOS Talk, Chloë Nols invited psychoanalyst and professor of clinical psychology Abe Geldhof who gave a very interesting presentation on psychological vulnerability, psychoanalysis and art. He started from the provocative statement “We are all outsiders”.
On 12/02/2021, KRANKLAND invites Philippe Cortens for the second KAOS Talk to talk about musician/therapist Jean Hoyoux. You can follow it for free here. Finally, on 19/02/2021, Korneel Muylle invites Kim Note, Wim de Winne and Dirk Bryssinck for a discussion during the third KAOS Talk, which you can follow here.
The first IME concert in Greece will be held online on the 27th of November, as part of the ART4MORE Festival 2020 (27-29/11/2020).
ART4MORE is an annual innovative International Arts Festival that brings awareness on social issues, with an emphasis on mental health. The festival is organized by EDRA in celebration of World Mental Health Day (10th October). Each year the festival explores a different central social awareness issue, through contemporary artistic forms, including visual arts, music, drama, dance, architecture, new media and design. The festival is being held under the auspices of the Greek Ministries of Health and Culture.
For its 13th edition, “Art that Works” is the core concept of ART4MORE Festival, exploring how Mental Health can be enhanced within the workplace, by using various forms of art (workshops, art exhibitions, photography etc.). The aim is to create an open dialogue, allowing the Arts to infiltrate workplaces and thus empowering creativity, even in those environments that are often considered as rather strict and stale.
All activities will be available through the following channels:
Two more lyrics video were recently produced by K.S.D.E.O. EDRA, titled “Collateral” (lyrics by Christina Tsaliki and music by Katerina Pipili) and “It’s a Moveable Feast” (lyrics by Christina Tsaliki and music by Nassos Polyzoidis), once again by our amazing video producer and editor, George Ktistakis.
In a recent discussion with her, Christina shared with us her thoughts and inspiration behind the song titles and the songs’ lyrics:
“Collateral is a song about our generation, the idea that there is no place or time, just being; a generation living a life with casualties. These thoughts are expressed with an upbeat rhythm, as well as an uplifting tempo in contrast to the lyrics. Leaping from musical to tragedy, the stigma of mental distress and the culture of perpetual, sometimes even ‘’toxic’’ positivity and the denial of negative thoughts or emotions, is a theme of the song. The unreal and unmet expectations of a generation during the decade of the economic crisis, living a post-traumatic, as well as a pro-traumatic era, still recovering from a national trauma and at the same time adjusting to a new global trauma. However, such circumstances can often lead to resilient bloom and growth.
On the other hand, “A Moveable Feast” is a song about our future and past self, as Plath says “inside me an old woman, inside me a girl”. The main theme is the fear of death, growing old, as well as of the oblivion and the future, essentially the fear of (not) living truly. The song explores how the last existing trail of ourselves can be found in someone’s memory and how our homes operate as personal museums, proving somehow a main theme during the pandemic.
The main idea is living each day to the fullest, as if it were our last, as the woman leaving her house prepared to not come back. Partially referring to people suffering from dementia, the
song attempts to wake us up, like a dream or an archetypical myth.
Inspired by the homonym book of Ernest Hemingway, the title refers to the memory of a splendid place that goes on with the moving passenger, transferring the emotion through a lifetime. This song in particular reminds me of a single act play or a stage monologue, a narrative that could be the personal story of any one of us.”
Ál Carmona is one of the members of Rober y los Optimistas‘s band. They have just recorded the song ‘Vamos despertando’ (We Are Waking Up) written by composers living with the symptoms of mental illness, in the framework of the IME (Introspection Music Experience) project founded by the European Commission. We discover more
Question: How was the collaboration with composers who inspired the song ‘Vamos Despertando’?
Answer: We are used to playing with people with mental health issues: the leader of our band lives with the symptoms of it, so we accept this condition as something natural. Róber and I have been playing together for about 17 years. Rarely has it been a month during these years that the band has not rehearsed weekly.
Question: How did Rober y los Optimistas get started?
Answer: Félix Pérez, from the group Candeal, had a studio and the first two EPs were recorded there. The first one with Rober and Félix helped by Jesús E. Cuadrado ‘Chuchi’ on the guitar. For the second one, Rebeca de Orleans on the chorus, Quique ‘Más madera’ on the solo guitar and me on the bass. From there the group began to be called ‘Róber y los Optimistas’. There was a moment in which the bassist Alejandro Rivero, from the group ‘Reciclaje’, joined the group and I moved on to the rhythmic guitar. Later on, Gabriel Santiago, the people from La Cava, came… Since 2004, many Optimistas have come and gone. There have been trips and moves to different cities. We have had painful losses, Félix recently or the flutist Óscar García a little bit before… But we have met many people and all have influenced us, I guess that we have also left something to them. This path has led us to publish a compilation with three EPs -the third one we recorded in the IES Puerta Bonita in Carabanchel- in all digital platforms such as Spotify (https://open.spotify.com/album/3xhFHpCTFOR04tCDMyYGwm?si=2XG1K_YZSa2dd4Btfca4YQ) or TIDAL (https://tidal.com/browse/album/149698383) We have made some video clips that we are going to publish gradually (https://youtu.be/z9Rz3_-XNOI)..
Question: How do you create your songs?
Answer: In Rober y los Optimistas, both the music and the lyrics come from Rober. We make some arrangements, but Rober is a very good musician and a very good guitarist; very personal. The repertoire is mainly his own, his ideas and songs. The lyrics of the song for the European project IME, ‘Vamos despertando’ has been written by Rober together with his colleagues from the 20 metros day care centre. Rober has put together the lyrics from different people and created the music; the Optimistas have just finished arranging the song.
Question: Does this proximity to mental illness give you an identity?
Answer: The circumstances of the leader of our band give a creative and unusual nature to the lyrics and structures of the songs, but Róber y los Optimistas is a band like the others. We make music and we do it naturally. You don’t have to be mad to make creative music, but if you are, it is not a problem. It’s even an artistic advantage sometimes. We’re all on the same level, those who have diagnosed mental health problems and those who don’t… Music and artistic creation are healing elements, vital for anyone. We must remember that Róber is also a painter with a unique and recognizable style. He has absolutely superb pictorial work.
Question: Do you have a message for the public?
Answer: Our repertoire challenges the public and we encourage them not to judge and not to be condescending with our music. At first glance, it may capture you more or less, but it never leaves you indifferent. We would like people to listen to Rober’s songs seriously, no to first think ‘It has been done by a madman’ and that is all. There are songs which are provocative and funny, those celebrate both his own and everyone else madness, other songs have a background, a meaning and dig in an experience that is difficult for anyone to live. Rober’s music is unique, it is more important the attitude than the form. Sometimes I am not sure if the concept is understood: people could think: ‘¿¡And these fucking lunatics…?!’ [Laughs]. But our songs try to be touching in a certain way; they touch something personal and essential in the audience. There are some songs that are brutal, but they are also as innocent as they are able to disarm you.
Question: What does being a member of Robert y los Optimistas bring to you?
Answer: In my opinion, music is something very powerful. Making music makes us, as musicians, very happy. It makes us feel fulfilled and that compensates the pain that it also brings now-a-days. The feeling you get on stage, when everything: musicians, audience, sound… works is unique and addictive. Anyone who has ever been on stage knows what I am talking about. There is no need for further pretensions. I remember one of the last concerts in a bar next to Rober’s house: we really enjoyed it, many friends came and also some strangers were amazed… a concert of Róber y los Optimistas is always fun! On the other hand, genuine music brings people together; it empowers society and its individuals: it makes us a tribe. Now this does not seem to please certain interests… it is easier to control people if they feel lonely and vulnerable and to sell us useless things if we feel displeased and sad. That is why certain musical scenes are promoted, those that have more of a neutral and alienating product than honest and genuine art.
Question: What do you mean by genuine?
Answer: To dare to say: ‘I am here, I am like this and this is what I really feel’ even though it is not pretty. To recognize that shit exists and because of this, the world is not less beautiful. To talk about other types of sensations beyond good vibes, fun or romantic love; those cliché rock songs. To not try to please for the sake of liking, nor to be cool for the sake of being cool. Listen to songs like ‘¡Estoy loco!’, ‘Metemos miedo’ or ‘Nada en el cuerpo’ and then ‘Lo que yo sé’, ‘Esperando conocerte’ or ‘Lisonjera sonrisa’ and you will see what I mean.
Question: What do you get out of participating in IME project?
Answer: I am left with having met new people. Both incredible artists from other countries and Róber’s colleagues at INTRAS. The latter have been rehearsing for more than a year and, even though they are not very experienced musicians in general, their motivation and sensitivity often surpasses that of professional musicians. There are people who have embarked on writing lyrics and poetry in such an honest way that it hits you like a slap in the face, people who have started singing in public with a determination that I wish I have for me, and others who have picked up the guitar again to enter the studio and record this song, “Vamos despertando”. That moment when you feel that people ‘wake up’ to music is very motivating. And contagious.
Ál Carmona is a founding member and guitarist of ‘Róber y los Optimistas’, bassist of the band ‘Sin voz ni don’ and has published the solo album ‘Canciones sin estribillos’