In Conversation with
Airu


We got a chance to talk to the amazing Spanish band
about their recent projects, their writing process,
their thoughts on composing
and their inspirations. 



airu
from left to right: Erik, Irune, Mikel and Patrícia.

(image by Haizea Ogueta @haizeaogueta)

Music has always been a big passion of mine. I always try to expose myself to new genres and artists as much as possible, and I’ve found that this openness has truly helped me appreciate and enjoy music much more. However, finding new music isn’t always as easy as it looks. It’s a conscious effort to try and expose yourself to new music when you don’t really know if you’ll like it or not. Every once in a while, however, a new band or artist will come up who immediately captures your attention. One of these bands, for me, has been Airu.

Airu is a truly impressive band from Bilbao, Spain. The band is made up by Irune Vega (who performs the vocals and rhythm guitar), Erik González and Mikel Izarra (who take turns alternating between playing lead guitar, bass and synthesizers) and Patrícia Echanove (who plays the drums). The band’s unique sound comes from a combination of each band member’s music taste. Airy guitars, powerful bass lines, sublime drums and soft vocals are just part of what makes Airu as delightful to listen to as they are. The band’s latest EP, Do It for the Catharis perfectly encapsulates all these elements and creates a collection of soundscapes that generate a vast array of feelings in anyone listening to it. Songs like Best of Breed possess a nostalgia that is almost palpable, transporting you to an airy dimension full of synths and lulling vocals. On the other hand, songs like At Night a Dim Light (a personal favorite of mine) are lively and fast paced, reminiscent of certain 80’s acts like The Smiths, The Cure and New Order. When put together, these songs represent what Airu is all about: a mixture of different styles and tastes to create a unique musical experience. 

At Night a Dim Light
(visuals by Alberto Elorduy @albertoelorduy)

We recently got a chance to chat with the band and ask them a couple of questions concerning their creative process, their dynamic as a band and their most recent projects. This is what they had to say:

First off, I’d like to talk a little bit about how Airu got its start. Were you always interested in pursuing music as a career? Or was it something that you started considering as you got older?

In Irune's case it's an interest that developed progressively as she continued learning how to play the guitar and began writing her own songs. That's why she can't really talk about this "lifetime dream" that a lot of people in the arts seem to have, although to this day she still feels very passionate about it. When it comes to Erik, Patri and Mikel it's a little different. They either grew up learning how to play music at school and private music schools or are self-taught musicians. They were also part of other bands together with their friends when they were younger.

Something that has always interested me about musicians is how every artist seems to have a very particular process when it comes to writing their lyrics. Do you have any themes that you find yourself going back to when you’re writing the lyrics to a song? Are your songs based on personal experiences or are the lyrics based on more general ideas?

The themes represented in the songs always have a sentimental side to them, that's why it's usually heartbreak, anxiety, anger, disappointment and such emotions that are portrayed. These feelings arise from personal experiences and so do the lyrics dealing with them.

“The themes represented in the songs always have
a sentimental side to them.”


Irune with her guitar in hand

Your instrumentation is something that I particularly love about Airu. The airy guitars, the effects on both the voice and the instruments, the super precise drumming and the on-point bass and synthesizers make up what I feel is a truly unique sound. When you guys are composing a song, is there normally an order in which you write the parts for each instrument, or is the process a bit more organic and “as it comes”?

The songs are usually first presented in a simplified structure to the rest of the band by Irune, as the main elements such as lyrics, chord progressions, rhythmic pattern, synth or guitar solos have already been chosen. Then, the rest of the components are introduced "as they come" once the band starts building the song up, and so the drums become way more precise, new guitar solos arise, a bass line is created, etc. Besides, a big part of the sound identity from the latest EP (Do It for the Catharsis) is related to experimenting when recording and mixing, which has helped us present airu's essence in a new way.

“A big part of the sound identity from the latest EP (Do It for the Catharsis) is related to experimenting when recording and mixing”

So, I know that you were all musicians before you actually started to play together. In your opinion, has there been a change to the creative process or the final result since you guys started playing together? In other words, how did working collaboratively change the overall sound of the music that you guys were creating?

Although as mentioned earlier the creative process has the same starting point that it did when Airu was a solo project, there's definitely been an undeniable change in the results as the rest of the band members take part in the process in later stages. As a consequence, the overall sound ends up shifting a little while the essence is still kept.


Erik in the recording studio

When I was checking out your Spotify, I noticed that you guys have a selection of playlists by each band member. I was really surprised by how different each playlist is, which seems to say that each band member has their own pronounced taste in music. I was wondering, what role do you think that your different music tastes play when it comes to writing your own music? Do you feel that having such different musical backgrounds makes it easier to develop a more concrete sound as a band?

Without the slightest doubt, every band member's music taste shapes the final product. For instance, when trying to spontaneously come up with a new bass line it is the bass guitarist's influences that will play a big role in what may come through his mind. Although we do have some different backgrounds (and perhaps that's what makes our music special) we still share a lot of references and enjoy many of the same bands, which in the end helps us focus on the sounds that we're trying to achieve.

“Without the slightest doubt, every band member's
music taste shapes the final product.”

Something that is really impressive to me is the fact that even though you guys are from Spain, your music seems very international. Although this is something that could be explained by your musical tastes and the music you listen to, do you think your Spanish heritage has influenced your music in any way; be it instrumentally or lyrically? If so, how has it affected or influenced Airu as a band?

Yes. Although the instrumental bit of the project stays quite the same whether the song is written in English or in Spanish, the way the ideas are expressed through the lyrics seems to be a little different in each one of the cases. When it comes to the songs in Spanish our lyrics seem more simple and direct, which is probably related to other Spanish bands in the music scene that follow the same style. However, the rest of the story lines expressed in English, although still simple, often arise from phrases or ideas heard elsewhere that have caught my attention (something that probably wouldn't have happened if I was a native English speaker).

“When it comes to the songs in Spanish our
lyrics seem more simple and direct.”

“However, the rest of the story lines expressed in English, although still simple, often arise from phrases or ideas heard elsewhere that have caught my attention.”



Mikel tearing up the bass.

You guys recently released your newest EP “Do It for the Catharsis”, which is truly amazing by the way! I especially fell in love with “At Night a Dim Light” and “Best of Breed”. I was really impressed, however, by how different these two songs are from one another. This made me think of the vibe of the EP as a whole. When you began working on “Do It for the Catharsis”, did you have an overall idea of what you wanted the EP to sound like, or did you just write the music you felt like writing in the moment? In other words, would you say the sound of the EP was planned, or was it more improvised?

We wrote the music we felt at the moment. Because the songs seemed to go well together we decided to present them as a whole, since there was still a common vibe in them that allowed us to put them all in a single unit. Even if some songs are seemingly different from one another, the essence we mentioned earlier is always kept and emphasized. That's what made the EP have a sound-homogeneity when listening to it from beginning to end.

“Even if some songs are seemingly different from one another,
the essence we mentioned earlier is always kept and emphasized.“



Do It for the Catharsis
(cover by Gorka Larcan @gorka.larcan)

Something that is quite impressive to me is the fact that you are able to write songs in both English and Spanish. I’m sure that it’s not an easy feat to write in two languages that are so different from one another. Have you noticed any difference in the way you write in Spanish versus the way you write in English? Also, do you feel that it’s easier to express yourself in either language, or do the ideas you express change depending on the language you’re using?

“it is still in a way easier to share a song in English in the Spanish music market when you're openly talking about your emotions, because the lyrics do not seem that direct and you're carrying "the foreign language shield" with you.“

I believe the melodies that come out for the lyrics and the ways in which ideas are expressed are for some reason different depending on the language chosen. It is definitely easier to write a song in Spanish as there's no need to worry that I might be using an ungrammatical form or making other kinds of mistakes that a non native speaker could be making. However, it is still in a way easier to share a song in English in the Spanish music market when you're openly talking about your emotions, because the lyrics do not seem that direct and you're carrying "the foreign language shield" with you.


Patrícia, the amazing drummer behind airu.

Finally, are there any artists, from any given medium, that you feel everybody should know about? If so, who would that be and why?

We'd like to mention a friend we made along the way called Choley (@choley.y), a Madrid based artist who defines his style as 'blue chill', a Basque band called TOC as well as Aitor Etxebarria, another basque songwriter who decided to start his career with no pseudonyms (something he'd done earlier). His music is quite deep and artistically complex. His album "Nihilism Part 1" really deserves a listen!


Me Sabe Casi Igual (Official Music Video)

We’d like to give a special thanks to Airu for taking the
time to talk to us and answer our questions. For more
on the band and any upcoming projects, check out
their Instagram at @airu.cove. Also, be sure to
visit their Spotify and YouTube channel to check out their music!