Automatically translated from Basque, translation may contain errors. More information here. Elhuyarren itzultzaile automatikoaren logoa

“I wanted to have fun on the table. That was my maxim.”

  • After working in several groups – Napoka Iria, Pearls, Dual Split…–, in 2017 the musician Miren Narbaiza started a solo project: MICE.
MICE (Miren Narbaiza) eta Danele Sarriugarte, Bira Kulturgunean (Argazkia: Teresa Villaverde)

04 January 2023 - 10:04
Last updated: 2023-01-05 16:44:40

After working in several groups – Napoka Iria, Pearls, Dual Split…–, in 2017 the musician Miren Narbaiza started a solo project: MICE. This year he published his second album and in the seventh edition of the Electric Blue, on the eve of the beginning of the Durango Fair, we met with him at the Bira Cultural Center of Bilbao to learn more about the Llanada.

In 2017 MICE album, in 2019 EP Plata and now in late 2022 Llanada. It seems that this last album has been a long process. How did you stay?

I think I've never been so long making a record. It has lasted a great deal for a number of reasons, but I think it was for good. By the time we started recording the album, we had the songs really worked out, because we had space for it, a studio, and we had time to work the songs from many angles and take them calmly. It's not always something we wanted to be, but I think that's why it's also been good: that is, we'll have to take it quieter than it is, we can't leave this year, we'll try the next year. The time has come to record and we found the models of songs very nice. The closure of the recording was magical and we were very pleased with the result.

Was it different from other recordings?

It's been a very nice and conscious recording. I've already recorded some albums and over time you learn from the process. When I recorded my first album with MICE, I realized that a lot of things were already closed, but not in my head. Maybe I wanted to make the voices again, but that had already happened. I've enjoyed a lot, I knew better the world of sound and production, and I'm not going to tell you where everyone was going, but I knew how to suggest or find the right words. Another thing is the language you make the record in: mastering that language is very interesting to know where you want to go and, above all, for your attachment to understand it.

Would you set an example?

Well, at a certain point you want to lower the song, or empty it… How to explain it, how to do it? Well, we can try to take away all the effects to the voice, or to move the voice away… There are many things you can explain, but you must also understand others.

They're presenting the disk. You're not playing guitar.

So many years after the guitar wanted a change.

What change?

I wanted to have a good time on the stage. That was the maxim. It was a good time, but the guitar – any instrument – has those two sides: it protects you, but it also makes you subaltern, it also takes technique, and at the same time it sings and plays… Sometimes it does not allow you to focus either on the voice or on the guitar. However, it was not a change from one day to the next: at the end of the previous album tour I parked the guitar in some songs and saw it was something I could do. I saw in various groups that the singer was like this and I envy myself. What must be to move freely from one side to the other! And I thought I was going to try it. This group has also allowed me to do so. It's been searched. There are two guitars: sometimes I could do something, but it was not necessary.

And how about that?

The truth is, I'm enjoying a lot. A little dancing… And when you dance it is striking how people start dancing.

Before you create MICE, you've been in multiple groups. At Napoka Iria we've seen many, but then you've touched many other groups: Pearls, Joseba B. Lenoir Gang, Dual Split…

That was how to start a new path. Of all the groups you mentioned in Banenor, and I was a little tired: road, from Monday to Friday a lot of tests, bolls on weekends, often two boluses the same day. At that time I needed to learn, to do other things, to be always present in Napoka Iria… Napoka Irian had me the micro, and in those cases the relationship with people is yours. I wanted to play another role on the board: I started playing the electric, making choirs… I liked it, because I was behind it and it was not my responsibility: I played the bass, even the drums sometimes in salsa. But it's true that then I got tired and it was time for me to rewrite and make new songs. And I thought, well, I'll do my group.

With MICE, you've taken out three jobs, and I think you notice that trajectory. In the first album, for example, the power of the beginnings appears, but also the doubts.

The start of MICE was a big change. Personally, I was going through a lot of changes. So, in that first album you only have to see the letters: you talk about balance, “There is no courage”…

“Holding the lap”…

Many times I felt dizzy, and we don't know what the new roads will bring. You know where you are, but you have to choose and the disc has all that energy. The truth is, it's a bit dark. What was the question?

To see if you agree with my interpretations, I think this is what we have mentioned in our unofficial conversations. And what was the record for you. Then he took the EP Zilar printza: two songs are yours, the other two versions: Now laughter, now rims and dark clouds of Delirium Tremens.

At the time, Delirium's people still didn't return, they didn't touch.

Many times I put that song in the morning to take some strength. In any case, EP songs are dancing, and you have followed that path also in the Plain. Well, the concept of Silver Pant reappears on the new album, it seems they are going to the gloss.

How good, someone noticed! But yes, I've projected this album like this. Towards the light, towards the horizon. It's also a pause, a landscape that has largely allowed the disc itself. I've projected brilliantly, far away, to make it more fun, with more colors, more direct, even the rather crude letters. I wanted to be more provocative and I've used metaphors, but many other things have been pretty immediate, for example in writing, and I've also decided to leave it like this. Nothing happens to leave them as things have come out for a boost: they have that strength, especially for you, and then you have to sing. I think you have to bet on the truth, it's not something you don't have to sell.

You talk about metaphors and I had to tell you that space and time have a great poetic and expressive force on your records. It mentions spatial, temporal concepts, elements of nature several times. Are they inspiration to you?

These are very nice and juicy concepts. On this album, but also before, nature seems to me very stimulating, very inspiring. You just have to turn around the mountain to see what it is, how many things you can write down from there, and how it helps you take perspective. We've been led to believe more and more cemeteries, and I'm a cementitious, but I'm benefiting from that contrast and I'm far removed from noise.

And for songs it's very nice. Singing to nature is beautiful: without just saying anything, the mere description can be a song. Now, for example, I have a little obsession, and I haven't done it all yet, but you'll have noticed how poetic weather forecasts are. Very poetic. When I hear Eguzkiñe Iturriotz, many times, when he says “Thursday will be included this morning”: the mere description is poetry. With that you can make a song.

How do you start singing?

There are many ways to make a song. I've always touched, then I get a pattern, and if something makes me a little tickle, I stay there, I start, and I start singing.

I've spent more time writing on this album, but little. I could have done much more, but I've written it, and then I've introduced the letters into the ideas. I have turned a few words around, others have stayed. It’s the first time I’ve had a notebook, write one thing, go clean, the next time… Lots of pages with the same song, until you complete the puzzle. And for the first time I left the computer, I wanted to look for other stimuli, because in the end I have a lot of vices with the guitar, I always have the same way to play, or the same trend to the chord: my youngest. Also thanks to Anari.

Anari made an Izar&Star cycle with authors using my youngest, right? Nick Cave, Low…

My youngest is very easy to play, you only need two fingers and the smaller chords have so much sadness and hope, all at once. All of us who start playing guitar really like it, it's very stately, it seems like we're going somewhere. So I've tried to start in a different way, with different sounds, and that's fine. My goal is always to do something that I haven't done: If I've done this road, I'll come back, but there are other paths that I'm leaving, imagining other songs, taking ideas, listening a lot of music, and seeing.

When I ask about this project, the motto of the interview that Xalba Ramirez did for Argia comes to mind when you got the first MICE album: “There are many impersonal and plasticized groups.” Is it more difficult to resort on your own way, on unexplored roads?

What happens is that I am very affectionate, warm up, give myself a micro… Surely I would be rabid with something. Impersonal is also very subjective. The point is that music is in everything and the result is also sincere. Music is very abstract, but it looks in your eyes. I don’t know how to explain it… You can’t mock. You can't patches -- life in general -- you'll see what game you grab, but music also sees you. I am at least sorry. Like many of the choices made in life, you know it and you will see it, and if you are calm with what you do, then go ahead.

And what path have you chosen?

I have tried to live my way sincerely and not to be excessively saturated, doing punctual moments and being sincere. For me, it's so fundamental in music -- you don't have to touch branches to music. It's something you have to treat well, it's soft, and also you can do whatever you want, there are a thousand types of music, see what different things people do! The bases are always the same, and look how many sites you can reach, choose yours, but to me it's a premise: do over here.

Being honest.

Yes, I think it is essential and is noted in the result. I at least notice that, as in many other areas. In art in general, this seems very important to me. It's also a conversation, something you teach people. Shouldn't we confuse it with purity, eh? Do it as you want, but believing you do it, even though it may not be what people want. You go to the plaza and people like that will follow you, or maybe not.

I was told earlier that for you Pikara was very important to start reading feminism. What has been the influence of feminism on you? In your letters, in the way of being… One thing comes to mind: Napoka Iria Negua was changing the lyrics when she sang live.

Feminism has given me a lot. It gives you, it takes you. As you have given me, I have had to take away a lot of things, like everyone else. The first relationship with feminism I had, consciously, thanks to Pika. So I was still a journalist in Soraluze's local magazine: I don't know what year it was, but I would say I had just started Pikara, online. There I started reading, I had no feminist friends around me, or at least they used that word in my mouth, and it helped me see how I wrote. I realized that I'm a very romantic person, to the point of terrifying romantic, with all its drawbacks. So I realized I was writing as a writer. The song Negua says: “I am not free when you are not with me.” Well, that's it. And I thought, at least I'll sing differently. “that you also separate without you,” how not.

Since then, I have tried to be honest. Many times you say things in music that you haven't incarnated yet, but indicate where you want to go. For example, on Napoka Iria's last record, I tried to put myself on people's skin and apply it. The opposite song is dedicated to self-defense, written in its own way, but it's actually that. No, he said no. Now the motto has changed, yes, but then it wasn't no.

Now you can change it if a version sounds.

Yes. In Napoka’s last album there is a desire that the only way to begin is to caress the wounds, take off… the symbolism has to do with it. I think feminism has brought us beautiful things and helps us that world we would like to imagine.

I would like to ask you about the Drumkopters group before I finish. You were made up of Korta, China and you. You got just one album, but for many it was fantastic. You noticed the intention to do things differently and they created a different environment. Very queer.

That's been my queer crew. It was the pleasure of Christ, in a group of single women who had the first time, a lot of things we shared, a lot of pain, many times doing therapy together, and those rabbits we put in the songs, and screaming was a pleasure, we disguised ourselves… There we built a whole house, and I learned a lot from them. I said earlier that I had no feminist friends, that I only read a lot in Pikara, and that finding them suddenly was a Christa. In addition, baskets…

It was in Zarautz, MEFSST! In the atmosphere of the festival [Musika Errebolta Feminista].

MEFSST! It was a milestone for many musicians.

How do you remember that time?

It was very enriching, very strong, we were many, and I noticed that there was a lot of energy. Parties of women alone, groups, juergas… It was a marabilla. I have a very nice memory and Zarautz has been very powerful for me. Pearls was also there. I think there was a lot of way, now there is also Ginger, Managaitz… It’s OK to be in a village like Zarautz, in such a touristic village, perhaps that’s why.

Many of these things happened at gaztetxe Putzuzuzulo. The loss of these spaces is worrying.

Yes, we will have to keep busy.

Before concluding, will your referents tell me? Three, for example.

At first I had several, but they connected me to the creation, took the guitar and took me to play the first chords… I heard Ana a lot when I was 13-14 years old. I listened very much to the album Habiak and played his songs. Now it remains a reference, but especially at that time it was a great model. I've met years later and I think it has opened a path for our generation. Then there are many other people. Today, also among young people, it seems to me that J Martina has completely broken the scene.

They made a version of Winter.

Yes! I really like his roll. And then out, well, PJ Harvey, of course I really like it, and I still have a lot of stuff about it, and I have it on this record, I know. I keep it in mind, and for me it's a goddess. There are many, but PJ and Anari are part of me. There are decisive ages, and then above all I heard many. Thanks to them we are also here.

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