You're in Brussels to shoot a video. Why Brussels exactly?
Axel (trumpet/vocals): "We came to Brussels to shoot a clip to accompany the song 'Gat Rumbero' from our album 'Via Mandarina'. Why Brussels? Well, why not! (laughs) We wanted to distance ourselves a bit from the traditional clichés surrounding the type of music we do, being Barcelona and its musica mestiza scene. We travel around a lot with La Pegatina and this often puts us in contact with lots of interesting people. Our path also led us to Belgium, because last year we played Fiesta Mundial."
What are the origins of the name "La Pegatina"?
Axel: "The word "pegatina" means "sticker" in Spanish. The origins of the name are a bit vague; there's one version that says people used to call Ruben (guitar/vocals, red.) this way when he was still playing solo, but it's also a play of words, because our music is "sticky", it makes you feel like dancing almost from the firs note you hear."
There's a connection between La Pegatina and Brazil and not only on a musical level.
Axel: "Yes, on ‘Via Mandarina' we included a song we recorded in collaboration with the Meninos e Meninas de Rua project in Sao Paolo. That project takes care of abandoned street children. With those children, they had formed a band and they recorded the song 'Minha Rua' which we re-recorded with them for our album. All proceeds from the song are going to the project."
You guys refer to your music as "urban rumba", but you're also part of the so-called musica mestiza scene in Barcelona. Is that a label you guys are happy with?
Axel: "I think it suits us, yes. This Barcelonian style developed about ten years ago, when a number of bands started experimenting with blending different musical styles and cultural elements. That summarizes exactly what we do with La Pegatina."
Adrià (guitar/vocals): "At the basis of our music is the rumba, a traditional style of music from Catalonia. It's very festive music, so it can easily be integrated into a mestiza project like ours."
Romain (accordion/vocals): "The fact our music is pretty festive in nature greatly facilitates our appeal for the organizers of the various festivals in Europe and being able to play in these places creates even more of an intercultural exchange."
Is La Pegatina just a party band or is the message in your music important as well?
Adrià: "Every so often, we'll do a song that has a deeper meaning or that's a bit of a social critique, but in general we're a band that's all about making the people move their feet."
There are also a lot of cumbia influences on 'Via Mandarina'.
Romain: "I joined the band in 2007 and because I play the accordion, which is an instrument that is also played by cumbia musicians, those influences are mainly my doing. I started playing the accordion after listening to bands like La Troba Kung-Fú and Dusminguet. It's a type of music that's very easily combinable with reggae or rumba, two other genres La Pegatina plays."
You included two cover versions on the album, 'Que Bonito Es El Amor' and 'Sun Bay'.
Adrià: "The first track is a song originally done by Martires del Compas, a well-known flamenco band from Andalucía. We played the song live one night and were so pleased with the result we decided to include it on the album. 'Sun Bay' is a song from a band called Tatamka, who had their day in the nineties but have since disbanded. Their drummer has formed El Puchero del Hortelano. One night, we played him our version as a tribute and he loved it so much he insisted on re-recording it with us."
With artists like Manu Chao and Sergent Garcia at the forefront, musica mestiza has become quite popular in a very short time span. Today there's a whole range of bands all fishing in the same pond.
Axel: "Well, there are definitely a lot of bands out there doing more or less the same thing, so if you want to be noticed you have to find that little something that makes you stand out and find your own musical formula. I think with La Pegatina we've succeeded in doing that and that's in part due to some people who've proven to be invaluable on the road we've travelled so far; the musicians of Che Sudaka for example, Argentineans who helped out the band with their advice and assistance in the distribution of our records, but there's also Gambeat, a French producer with more than twenty years of experience, and the bass player with Manu Chao's backing band Radio Bemba."
What's the story behind the title of the 'Via Mandarina' album?
Axel: "Well, in Spanish "via" means "street", so that part is a reference to the fact La Pegatina started out as a bunch of buskers playing the streets and "mandarina" (mandarin or tangerine, red.) refers mainly to the warm color of the same name, representing the passion we want to transmit in our music."
Romain: "Mandarins are also a fruit rich in vitamins and you could say we play vitaminized music that gives you a lot of energy."