Name: Iseo & Dodosound
Members: Dodosound (Alberto Iriarte), Iseo (Leire Villanueva)
Recent release: Iseo & Dodosound's Blossom is out via Twin Cats.
Recommendations: Walk through walls, by Marina Abramovic; Dance, by Matisse; Jerusalem, by Alpha Blondy.
If you enjoyed this interview with Iseo & Dodosound and would like to find out more, visit their official website. They're also on Instagram, and Facebook.
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
We started making music together in 2014, and each of us was coming from a different scene: Dodo was into hip hop and reggae music, making scratches and mixing his own sessions, and Iseo was writing her first songs on the guitar, closer to the neo-soul and acoustic music.
Since we came from different backgrounds, it could have been difficult for us to find a common denominator. But what happened was the exact opposite. It turned out to be so natural to make songs together, we both write the instrumental parts and the lyrics.
When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?
Iseo: I see colours and shapes too, depending on the sounds, effects, harmonies or melodies. I listen to a song and I can assign a colour for it, I don’t know if that makes sense. But there are a lot of ways to describe music beyond technical aspects. Normally to name some parts of the songs we’re working on, I use feelings or sensations.
Dodo has more technical skills regarding to sound and mixing, so he’s more precise about describing those aspects of a song, but we understand other’s language really well.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
Having a personal voice and sound identity has probably been our main goal since we started making music together. As an artistic project, you always look for your own way to talk about life. At the end of the day we all have the same feelings (love, fear, pain, gratitude, loneliness, etc) but each of us has the power to describe it in a unique way. Finding that way, your way, and making it sound through your identity is one of our biggest goals.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
As listeners, we would say that the sense of identity shows up when you’re listening to a song and something in the lyrics or the sound (or both) talk to you directly. We all look for art to talk about us in one way or another, and when you find something that presses that key inside you it’s when our identity feels described, understood, filled in some way.
As artists, we make music precisely to put words to that sense of identity, to talk about feelings and situations through art. It’s a channel to take those feelings out (sometimes even to try to understand them), sometimes a relief, sometimes a liberation.
Writing songs is a way to put your sense of identity in front of you.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
Freedom, inspiration and shelter.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
We don’t think that innovation goes against perfection or timelessness. We want our music to last forever (we don’t think about making a song just for the moment), but at the same time we try to focus on innovation and making our personal identity regarding the sound.
We’re interested in “music of the future” that “continues a tradition”, if that makes sense.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
We've been working in Ableton Live, since day one ‘till the present moment. That’s where we write, produce and mix our music.
We use a keyboard to control the plug-ins to write the basslines, the skanks, leads and all the instruments with the exception of our horn section, The Mousehunters.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
Taking out our two dogs on a good walk in nature, having something wholesome to eat, jamming in the studio, working on a new song or on the new show that is up to come with the release of our new album.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
Working on a new song normally starts from the beat and harmony. We play it on a loop and we start looking for the hook. When we find it, sometimes the rest of the lyrics come, or sometimes the rest of the instrumental parts. It’s never the same, but after these years we know how it works for us.
When we work on a performance, we usually think about the songs that we want to keep in the show, and then we think about the setlist, try to put them in order, or think about which productions we want to update, which songs we can put together, transitions between songs, intro for the show … once the whole setlist is put together, we imagine the lightning and the set design.
An album is a whole concept, sometimes it’s the first thing that comes to our minds, sometimes it comes in the middle of the way, sometimes it’s the last key you find once you have the songs.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
As listeners, we both like doing it alone or being part of an audience.
Actually live concerts have that power, putting people together so that they share the same moment led by one specific music. They're some kind of a cathartic experiences.
As musicians, we love writing together, even if sometimes it's one of us who comes with an idea, or some lyrics. We work on the songs together, Iseo has more presence in the harmonic part, Dodo on the sound and mixings.
Our songs can only be written if we do it together. Iseo can’t reach that result on her own, nor Dodo. So our creative results can only be understood if both of us have been present on the composition and creation.
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
We’d love to think that music can change the world, but that’s a big way of putting it. So we try to think that music can change little things in people, and maybe, as a result, can make changes in society.
Our creativity is related to the world, to the moment that surrounds us, and the experiences we live. We can’t understand our music disconnected from the world.
Maybe we’d talk about other things if we were from another country, or if we were living in 1830. It’s difficult to see art (and music) on its own, there’s always a context that frames the work of art.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
Actually, art is the way to deal with those big topics. It’s the way to put those feelings out, to feel that relief once you’ve revealed them. And even more with other artists' work.
There’s no greater feeling of relief that the one you have when you read in a book (or hear in a song) the exact feelings that you’re having. When you find that someone put words to your situation you feel understood, you don’t feel alone.
And that’s on of our main paths in this society: not feeling alone.
How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
To be honest we’re not people of science (we’ve never been) so that’s a question that we don’t think about really often.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
Being present in what you’re doing is one of the most important things that make you connect with the result of what you’re doing. So living intentionally is what makes the difference, both when you’re writing a song and making a cup of a freshly ground coffee.
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
Music is probably the most powerful art form in the world. And that’s because you don’t need to understand music to feel it.
We mean, there’s something unbeatable when you hear a beat. Your head (or your feet) move instinctively. What if you don’t understand the lyrics? No problem at all. Music is love, music is freedom. And when a beat comes with a catchy melody and a deep message, there’s nothing you can do against it. That’s the power of music.