Interview with Sangre De Muerdago

I found Galician folk band Sangre De Muerdago down an alleyway in the back streets of Belfast. Due to appear with Lynched and two local supports they unfortunately didn’t make it – but their music did! I picked up one of their albums from the merch table. Blown away by the Galican folk sounds I promptly set about finding out more about them and their music……

Greetings from Yoshiwara, first can you give us a brief history of the band?
Sure, it is quite a long story already, but to make it short, let’s say the band started to be forged in my head in 2005, and it was in 2007 that we recorded a demo in Barcelona. After that, my friend Jorge who I started the band with, passed away. And since then I’ve been sailing this boat with other good friends that come and go, at the moment we have quite a solid line up.

What other projects are the members of Sangre De Muerdago involved in?
We play in other bands as Antlers, Coldworld, In Gowan Ring, O Graceful Musing’s Burden, Saelde Sanc and many others.

You describe your music as Galician Forest Folk? What does Galician mean to you and does it feature heavily in your lyrical concepts?
Galician means a spirit, a mood, a certain tone in the melodies, it means “that thing” that is in the music and that gives its character, I don’t really know how to put that into words. We talk indirectly about Galician lands, legends, myths and topics in some of the lyrics, but some can apply to anywhere in the world as well. Galician Forests were and are a big muse and inspiration in Sangre de Muerdago.

Spain is known for its self-governing regions. How important is it to you maintain the autonomy of the Galician community in your music?
It is not important in my music, but in Galician music and culture, preservation is important, so much wisdom has been lost already.. and in this life it is just important for anyone to keep your autonomy starting at a personal level, I always thought, the smaller is your kingdom, the better.

You were planning an Irish tour, with the mighty Lynched. How did you connect with Lynched initially?
I knew Lynched many years ago, saw them live for first time in 2004, and I always enjoyed their music very much, it is really great to see how their music developed and the good recognition they’re getting. It was a pity that we had to cancel that tour, we really hope to be back!!

It was a memorable evening, Lynched blew everyone away, pity there was no Sangre De Muerdago. Do you take any influence from the Irish folk greats like Planxty and The Dubliners, or newer greats like The Gloaming?
Planxty were always a personal favourite, and definitely an inspiration here and there. Love their quiet stuff so much. I discovered The Gloaming earlier this year and I really like them too, but I can’t say they’re an influence here, maybe in the future.

Are your songs born from jamming or individual ideas coming in from each member?
Basically I write everything but when putting the compositions on the table, we often develop things together, so we combine both of the things. Sometimes we just jam as well and there are always nice ideas to pick from.

How did you want ‘O Camiño das Mans Valeiras’ to be different from “Lembranzas dende o Lado Salvaxe”? The new album seems more polished and less raw than the last one?
“Lembranzas…” is just a CD compilation of vinyl works and compilation songs. I can say that somehow “O Camiño..” is a very lightful album, you can still feel all that melancholy always present in our music, but somehow the spark of light is brighter there. At a musical level, I just think we finally got a recording to sound very close to what we were looking for, I always thought our past recordings lack much of the intensity that our live performances have, but in this last album, we got more of this intensity into the recording.

The band has had quite a selection of labels releasing your music, does this work well for you from a release to release basis, or are you still searching for a permanent home?
We are open to whatever comes, but we want to keep control on our music and feel free. We got already offered a big contract, but our nature was not into it, so we prefer to keep walking our path and see what happens, we are happy so far.

The vinyl version will be available on your own label, tell us about the label and your objectives.
I named the label Musica Maxica, only to put a name to our DIY efforts, there’s no objectives or anything else besides self-releasing our own music. Don’t know if anytime in the future i’ll release some other band, but so far, this is only meant for Sangre. I think the last album was the 6th release of Musica Maxica.

You are currently based in Leipzig, what inspired your move from Spain?
Love, change…

Can we expect a tour for the new album and possibly a UK date?
I hope so, we are touring as much as we can, last year we were in England and it was a wonderful part of our tour, we really would love to go back there, so YES!

It would nice to hear a live recording of the band to capture the aforementioned intensity, is this in the pipeline?
We are planning that, I think you’ll see some news about this sometime soon.

Can’t wait, in the meantime any other music you care to recommend?
Dikanda from Poland…. I also love my friends Pan de Capazo, their last album “Sea” is amazing… fast music for Eastern European folk lovers. If you want to try some old Galician music, go for Milladoiro or A Quenlla…

It has been a pleasure discovering more about Sangre De Muerdago, the final words are all yours…
Thank you very much for the interview, we hope to go back to Ireland and eventually play the shows planned.
Slainte!

Garry Brooks
November 2015