Next up is West Coast Spotlight – Via Barcelonia. Coming off their recently release of single “It Ain’t Over”, we got to catch up with this dynamic duo to chat. “It Ain’t Over” is available now on streaming platforms so make sure to check it out after reading what the guys had to say.
So, Via Barcelonia have an interesting origin story in that you were individually successful musicians’ solo before linking up. Tell us a bit how you met, and ultimately decided to take this journey together?
So for a while we were both doing our own things separately. I was playing for a bunch of different artists, and Andrew was doing his own solo stuff as Andrew Allen. We both knew of each other as we are from the same town and have quite a few mutual friends. I actually opened for Andrew at a show in Vernon where we’re from back in 2015 or 2016, and after that we got talking a bit and thought it’d be fun to play together. Fast forward a couple summers and it was him and I on the road touring the Andrew Allen set, and that’s when he showed me a few demos he’d been working on for a completely new project. Then we just decided to go for it!
Your style is very dancehall inspired, what were your influences growing up? Were you always musical with friends and family?
We each have a pretty wide range of artists we listen to and draw inspiration from. The VB sound takes a lot of inspiration from Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’, and draws comparison to Rusted Root, Whitney Houston, The 1975, and Lauv. A pretty broad spectrum! I think we can’t help but do music. When you’re artistically inclined it’s almost impossible to not have your art form manifest itself into everyday life. Whether its writing, painting, singing, playing an instrument, a whole lot of other things, it’s just part of you are and for those people and for us it’s not easily escaped, and we’d never want to stop doing what we love/what we feel meant to do.
Your first show as a band was back in the summer of 2019, which was not only sold out, but wildly popular. How did it feel getting on stage knowing that even though this was a newer project you had ample support?
It felt great! A bit nerve-racking cause you’re giving a bit of who you are to other people to hopefully love, but also able to be scrutinized. It’s a pretty vulnerable thing presenting new songs/a new band to people, especially your friends and family, but it’s also extremely energizing and exciting. So yea, it was sweet.
Andrew, you were a solo artist and travelled. Being from the interior, the summer festival season is so much fun, and you have played all over Vernon, Kelowna, and more. What are some of your favorite memories from that first crazy summer?
Hmmm, playing Harmony Arts in Vancouver was a pretty cool experience. We got to play for a big crowd that was all sitting and kind of wondering what to expect, but by the 3rd song almost everyone was up dancing and singing along to the 2nd and 3rd choruses of each song so that was pretty awesome.
Your 2019 album “One” is infectiously danceable. I think “It Only Gets Better” might be my favorite, but “Chasing Sunsets” was a close second. To be honest, they are all incredible. What was the creative process behind that album, and what are your favorite tracks of it?
“One” was a whirlwind. Andrew and I were on the road touring his stuff and every time we were back in Vernon we were at his studio recording, and when we were on the road we were writing and brainstorming what the EP would look like, what the live show would look like, how we’d translate it all to the stage. We actually finished the EP in Calgary in the basement of our friend’s house on a night off. The process was very green, fresh, we didn’t overthink anything.
If we wanted to say something we’d say it, if we wanted a certain part or hook or sound to happen we’d stick it in and move on to the next thing. I’m proud of finishing it. We self-produced and recorded and mixed and mastered the whole thing ourselves which was new to both of us (mainly the producing). That EP felt like a good stepping stone to how we get to Wonderland. Favorite tracks… hmmm. I’d have to say Here We Go. The vibe is like a wave and the lyrics are pretty personal, so that’s my pick. Andrew would probably say Chasing Sunsets or Runaway.
The music video for “Stand Taller” was shot down in one of the boardwalks in Los Angeles. Tell us more about how your time there helped shape your sound.
The VB sound kinda suits the streets and beaches of LA. Hot, bright, a bit rough around the edges, energized. We were there until right before LAX shut down due to Covid. We wrote a song called Lost and Found down there in our AirBnB. A lot of the lyrics sound like they pertain to the global situation we’re all in, but that was not even on our minds when we wrote it cause nothing had happened. It’s cool that songs can do that, provide different meanings for different times and places. It’s not a typical festival-pop VB track, but we loved it and now it’s the last song on Wonderland.
Your latest release “It Ain’t Over” just came out a few weeks ago, and it is an amazing track. It really has your iconic sound, but also some how a more mature cohesiveness to it?
Yea, you nailed it. It Ain’t Over definitely feels like the most ‘mature’ VB song to date. It’s got quite full verses lyrically, but also lots of space. It’s interesting and gives the listener (and us) time to reflect while they listen. The lyrics and production/arrangement kind of feed off one another. The first 2 or 3 minutes are such a vibe and then it opens up in the last minute and it feels so good.
With this new single out now, when can we expect a whole album?
So all the singles we’re releasing over the summer are apart of our album. Wonderland comes out in full on October 9th.
I recently watched your Live from a Living Room version of “It Aint’t Over” and it was so interesting the dichotomy between how electronic and hyped the original version is, versus this one which is quite subdued and stripped down. What was the decision process to do the track in that style?
Honestly we did everything we could with the instruments we had at the house! We talked through a stripped arrangement and then gave it a go. If we were to play the track live at say a festival with a full backline and PA and drums and electronics and everything we would play it much more closely to the actual track. But for that living room session we just tried to replicate the same feeling that the song has even though we didn’t have the means to make it sound as wide or big as the released track.
Covid obviously halting a lot of summer tours and festivals, how have you been keeping yourselves busy, challenged, and most importantly sane?
We’ve been able to play some smaller shows under Andrew’s name which is great just to be able to play. It’s also been kind of busy as well with filming music videos, recording acoustic versions for different things, and trying to release an album in the middle of a global pandemic!
Once things reopen and things return to normalcy, what are some local favorite restaurants, bars, and venues that you are excited to visit again?
Hmmm. There’s this coffee shop in Foster, Australia called Plunge. I’d like to go back there. Haha. Honestly we really just want to be able to play these songs to people the way that we imagined when we wrote them. For now listening in your room or with friends in the car or under the stars will have to suffice. We’ll all just keep on playing this terrible, wonderful game.
West Coast Spotlight – Via Barcelonia has come to an end. We want to say thanks to Andrew and Taylor for spending some time with us to talk music.
Make sure you keep up with everything Via Barcelonia on their website.
Check out “It Ain’t Over” right here!
It’s probably time for your own Spotlight interview. Mail us now and lets see what we can do!