Interview to Marc, one of the Composers from Spain


Marc is one of the composers who have participated in the music creation sessions with emerging artists. Marc has always loved music, he learned to play the guitar at birthdays and parties, then when he was 18 he got more serious and got together to sing songs with friends. Music is something that has always been there for Marc, there were always seasons throughout his life, when he would turn to it and go back to practice. The IME project represents one of those opportunities to return to music, with which he has never completely lost touch.

We spoke with him about his participation in the project.

Why did you decide to participate in the IME project?

I thought it was an interesting idea, coming together to enrich each other, share, learn and have a good time with other people using music sounded great when they proposed it to me. Rober asked me if I would collaborate with them in this new project and I saw a chance to challenge myself, would I be able to help a group like Rober y los Optimistas to create a song, to create music? I haven’t played for a long time, I play sometimes with a friend, but participating in this song with more people and seeing that I could get out of it has been my real motivation to participate, and the experience has been worth it.   

Thanks to your collaboration and that of other participants you have composed ‘Vamos Despertando’ with Rober y los Optimistas. Do you like the song? do you feel it represents you?

I really like the way Rober sings, his voice, how he transmits, his lyrics and his ideas. ‘Vamos Despertando’ seems to me a very positive song, when I listen to it it makes me feel good.

Would you like to continue with the music creation sessions?

Yes, I would like to. I also like instrumental music and chanting mantras, but of course I am willing to continue participating.

What do you take away from the IME project?

With the day of the recording of the song, it was a special day, there were all my colleagues, I did the chorus and played the guitar. We were very comfortable, I had a great time. I had never been in a recording studio before and I really enjoyed being able to participate. I also liked the concert at the Patio Herreriano Museum, I liked the songs that were sung, I really enjoyed listening to them and being there with them, doing the chorus and accompanying them that day.

Ál Carmona reflects upon the identity of Rober y los Optimistas (Rober and the optimistic people) and how proximity to mental illness influences their songs.

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 ( or TIDAL (  We have made some video clips that we are going to publish gradually (

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’ / @alcarmonamusic

There are no barriers related to the illness, there’s ‘only’ music.

Interview to Claudia Serrano, one of the Art Directors of the band Grounded Theory from Zamora (Spain). They have just recorded one song within IME project ‘Over and Over’ and tells us some details about it.

Please, elaborate on the collaboration between yourself and the musician(s).

It is important to get to know the person you are collaborating with, not only their ideas, emotions, thoughts, but also the environment she/he is living. The whole group has to understand the meaning of the song to put music to it, to go in the same direction and for both (music and lyrics) to express the same idea.

To avoid the disconnection between the music and the lyrics, we have tried to build the song at the same time. The lyrics are written by the lyricist alone, but the construction of the song is made by the whole group.

Please, elaborate on the process of recording.

During the recordings, an amazing effort has been made by the members, with the instruments, the mixes… they have been serious; they were worried about the result.

Please, describe if there were any difficulties during the collaboration?

There have been a lot of moments in which everything seems to click and we want to create more songs; but also lots of moments in which nothing clicks, overwhelming feelings appear, participants closed their minds and wanted to leave the group. We have to be prepared to remember that when something clicks is because there was chaos before, and that’s the way we worked. This is not therapy or something like that, it is just music.

How did you go through this difficulties?

One of the strengths of the group has been the strong sense of belonging of the members, they have worked so hard for it to exist, for them to lean on each other when feeling lonely.

This relation has motivated the members of the group, when one of them felt like leaving, the rest would just “push” him and at the end all stayed, sometimes for themselves and sometimes for their bandmates.

Please, elaborate on the results. What went well?

I am so pleased with the song created, I am happy and proud of the group, of what we have built together and of the bond shared by the members. There are no barriers related to the illness, there’s only music.

It has been a challenge to create something professional where there was no training enough, but a lot of motivation: “This is the best thing happening in my life from a very long time” one of the members said.

It was really satisfying; it has been a challenge but it was worth it.

What things do you learn for future comparable projects?

We have learnt how to teamwork and to share responsibilities, there is no one director and the group, it is a band progressing along together. There was no fear of saying anything. All the comments were taken seriously, always.

We have learnt how to make music indistinctively of anything else, of how we and our mates are or feel.