Marion Harper Every Friday afternoon on El Punt Avui Televisió, Barney chats with an English-speaking expat. For this month's interview, he had a conversation with singer, Marion Harper.
Let's start talking about your background. You were born in Montevideo, in Uruguay.
My mum is Uruguayan and my dad is English. My dad is a ship's captain and they met in Uruguay.
You left Uruguay when you were six. Do you have any memories?
Really nice memories. I remember we used to live near the beach and I used to go to there on my bike.
Do you go back often?
Every two or three years, more or less. I have still family there.
Why did you move to Catalonia?
My dad needed to be closer to his office, which is in Cambridge, and my uncles lived here already.
You've been in Catalonia for 13 years. What is it like living here for you?
I suppose it is home, really. I love the people and the culture. It almost feels like I'm from here, although I feel at home in England and Uruguay, too.
You're only 19. When did you become a singer?
When I was 16, and at 17 I released my first EP, Seasons.
How did you become a singer?
When I was 12 I started taking singing lessons, I started saxophone when I was eight. I had to leave it because I changed schools but then I restarted singing and started guitar lessons. It was classical singing; my teacher was an opera musician. And I am glad I did that because once you learn the basics of classical singing then it's easier to develop.
So how do you get to sign a contract with a production house at 16?
It's a funny story: my current producer, Aleix Iglesias, and I, had a teacher in common. For my final baccalaureate research project I told my teacher I wanted to record a song explaining the whole process of recording and mixing and all about making a song. He said he knew someone who might be able to help me. He put me in contact with Aleix, and it turned out that Aleix was starting a new independent record label company –Luup records– and they needed someone to promote it. He heard a couple of my songs and he liked them. Aleix plays the guitar in a band, so we are like a family. The same people that have the record label also have the band, so we are always together.
How has this affected your life?
We spent every afternoon in the studio working with Aleix and the rest of the band. In a year and a half I got my first album, it was a slow process.
Who composes the songs?
I write the songs and lyrics, and play the guitar, then I take them to the studio and work on the songs together. I write songs about things that happen to me. Maybe I see something or watch a film, read a book and I say to myself: “I like that, it's inspiring, I'm going to write about that.”
How would you describe your music? What genre would you say it is? Has your classical music training influenced your music?
Indie pop is okay, something between indie and pop. Classical music was important, the breathing exercises are important, they help you not to hurt your voice, you can strain your voice. Before I go on stage I have a short routine of breathing exercises.
Your CD is called Cotton Candy. Where does the name come from?
Cotton Candy is a person, so I based the album on that person. In my opinion it sounds quite '80s and that person loves '80s music. I called it Cotton Candy because that person is really sweet.
Tell us more about the songs on the album.
There are 12 songs. Most songs are about things that happen to me but normally about people that surround me. It's mainly my personal experiences: for example there's a song called Paula, it's a song about a friend of mine, it talks about something that happened to her.
Tell me about your style. You have a very distinctive, clipped style.
My singing teacher used to say I should open my mouth more, but it's something that comes to me naturally, not saying the whole word, but clipping the sounds almost.
How do you see your short-term and long-term future in music? You've been doing this for three years now.
I don't really know but I just hope there's music in the future.
Where do you play? Do you have a lot of gigs?
In lots of places: Sala Bikini in Barcelona, Girona, Olot, all around Catalonia really. I always play with the same band, they are all from Blanes: Aleix Iglesias as guitarist and producer, Ricard Borrell as bassist, the brothers Joan and Jordi on guitar and keyboards, and Jordi on drums.