Catalan music bands are a hit at London’s live music venues

The Great Escape Music Festival, in the UK, known for its commitment to up-and-coming groups, continues to support bands from Catalonia and other Catalan speaking areas. The latest edition of the festival brought together groups that have already performed over the past three festivals such as Mishima or Manel. This year the organisers also decided to include an exclusive space in the programme for bands from the Balearic Islands.

CNA / Laura Pous

December 5, 2011 06:54 PM

London (ACN).- Catalan speaking music groups are becoming an increasingly “attractive and exciting” option for concert promoters at London’s independent live music venues. Festival organisers such as the famous The Great Escape, which is Europe’s leading music festival for new bands, have invited them to perform. Catalan groups like Mishima, Manel, Mujeres or others from the Balearic Islands such as The Marzipan Man, Poomse, and Beach Beach –who premiered for the first time at The Garage venue – are some examples of the bands that have entered the British musical sphere over the past three years. “They got a wonderful reception from the audience”, explains Cat Morris, Director of Operations of The Great Escape, a music festival that plans to gather more than 300 new artists in 30 different venues for the 2012 edition, including Catalan speaking bands from Catalonia and the Balearic Islands.

Overseas collaboration

The organisation The Great Escape festival, owned by Cat Morris, is leader in the sector of up-and-coming music talent, especially when referring to pop and indie-independent music, and defines itself as a “seaside Glastonbury” or as a British version of Texas’ “South by South West”. For the past few years, the British festival has worked together with the ICIC (Catalan Institute of Cultural Industries) and the Institut Ramon Llull (IRL), a public institution funded by the Catalan and the Balearic Island Governments focused on promoting the diffusion of every aspect of Catalan culture abroad. They work together in London to promote music from Catalan speaking areas, such as Catalonia and the Balearic Islands.

“For the past three years we have brought over Catalan bands to form part of the festival and, for the past two years, we have also organised concerts in London with representatives from Catalonia”, explains Morris, who promotes The Great Escape festival at Brighton and ten other venues in the British capital.

The Institut Ramon Llull (IRL) and its London office, led by Mercè Estela, also works hard to promote bands in the United Kingdom and has witnessed the increasing presence of new Catalan and Balearic groups in the market. It is good news for local talent particularly because they are being invited to perform by The Great Escape, an organisation with a “great reputation”. “The chosen bands have the full support of the sector”, assures a representative from the IRL. They believe that working together with promoters “facilitates” the task of up-and-coming bands from Catalonia and the Balearic Islands appearing at “festivals and concerts”.

A warm welcome from the British public

The Catalan and Balearic bands that took part in the 2011 festival and performed at venues in London got a “wonderful” welcome from the British public, according to Cat Morris. The head of The Great Escape admitted that she often listened to the Majorcan group The Marzipan Man “at the office”. The Director of Operations of The Great Escape added that Mishima and other groups left “their mark” during the concerts in London and Brighton. “The audience liked them”, explains Morris. She was especially pleased with the concerts programmed at her venues in London, such as The Garage or The Bull and the Gate. “We are happy with how everything has worked out until now and we hope that we continue to collaborate even more than before with Catalan bands”, Morris said.

Groups from the Balearic Islands are the festival’s latest addition

The collaboration has helped introduce a new branch of music bands from other Catalan speaking territories outside of Catalonia, such as the Baleric Islands (formed by Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera). “For the first time we also chose purely Balearic artists, and it is very exciting”, says Morris, referring to the December 1st concert of The Marzipan Man, Poomse and Beach Beach, all three from the Mediterranean Islands.

Under the title Alternative Sounds of the Balearic Islands, The Great Escape festival has programmed a space exclusively dedicated to bands from the Balearics for the first time. This year they picked the young band The Marzipan Man, the indie rock groups Poomse and Beach and Beach, who produce “very positive music” that “clearly comes from the islands”, according to Morris.

“Catalan speaking areas are experiencing a moment of great music quality”, states Tomeu Mulet, from Beach Beach. “I’m talking about both music sung in Catalan as well as in English”, the young musician added. He has led the band since 2006 and said “exporting a genuine product from Catalan speaking territories is now possible”.

Poomse band members Llorenç Roselló, Gaspar Reixach and Josep Verdera pointed out that many quality music groups have appeared on the Balearic Islands over the past few years. They also admitted that it is “more difficult” for Majorcan bands and groups from the “smaller islands” to perform abroad, but that this is fast becoming a reality.

On the other hand, the leader of The Marzipan Man, who performed at the Primavera Sound Festival and the Benicàssim Festival, declared they were “very happy” to be in London. Jordi Herrera explained that the group is evolving with every performance. “On a musical level, I would love to fly during one of the concerts, mentally at least. If that did happen, it would be great”, Herrera explained. “It sounds silly, but it is not. We want to become a musical drug”, he concluded.