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Xceed-Artist-Blanca Ross

Interview with Blanca Ross: “I feel that only small projects, focused on a very specific and loyal audience, will work in the short term”

Some thoughts from the Catalan artist, one of the most promising talents on Barcelona's scene, after her first post-quarantine gig

We are not allowed to play at small indoor clubs for the moment, but I come back to the decks for the first time this Saturday at a very special place: Sa Terrassa.

With this announcement on her social profiles, Blanca Ross gave last Thursday, June 11, the starting signal for clubbing’s ‘new normal’ in Spain. Blanca Ross is 28 years old and comes from Girona, although, due to her proximity to Barcelona, she is considered one of the most promising talents of the Catalan capital’s underground field. During this confinement, she has been very active on her social networks: working in the studio, streaming sets (including one for our We Stay In movement in collaboration with Electrona) and keeping in touch with all her fans. Blanca Ross is committed to an eclectic sound, which can range from relaxed proposals such as deep house to authentic dancefloor battles with psy-trance shapes. She herself admits that she found it difficult “to imagine techno or trance music playing in the ‘new normal’ situation, with people sitting around tables”. However, once in Sa Terrassa -an open-air terrace in the city of Tortosa, capital of Terres de l’Ebre, in the south of Catalonia-, it was difficult to contain oneself.

Xceed-Barcelona-City Hall-Blanca Ross
Image: © City Hall

It seems like a simple question, but… how are you?

I’m pretty well, actually. I had good days and bad days, like everyone else, but I think I’ve been able to adapt to the situation since the beginning of quarantine. I live alone and my day-to-day has been pretty much the same as it was before the confinement. I have the studio at home and I’m one of those workaholics, so, especially on weekdays, I’ve kept up my usual lifestyle. Every time, I like less to do things less and more to stay in the studio. The only thing I’ve missed is playing in front of the audience and feeling their energy. Like everyone else, I guess.

Deena Abdelwahed admitted a few days ago that she has been unable to produce new songs during quarantine because it has been impossible for her to visualise club situations, which is indispensable for her to create music. How have you been handling that?

I’ve been lucky. A week before the confinement, I came up with an idea for a track and that’s what’s been giving me life for the last three months. The result is “Electrical Signals”, the third track of my new EP, which will be released, if all goes well, at the end of the summer. Beyond that, I haven’t started any new projects, but I’ve outlined some that I had halfway through. Of course, there have been days when I wasn’t as creative. Those days were when I took the opportunity to dig and select new music for my sets.

Any findings to highlight?

Yes, there has been a label that has changed my perspective on electronic music quite a bit, actually. Those who know me, know about my predilection for psy-trance and techno, but they are styles that can only be played at peak times. It’s hard for me to imagine suitable situations for them in the ‘new normal’. That’s why I decided to look for more relaxed proposals. And I found IbogaTech, a branch of the legendary Iboga Records. It’s classified as melodic techno, but to me it sounds like psy-trance slowed down to 125 bpm, with very psychedelic sounds.

Talking about music for your sets, you’ve been pretty active in streaming.

Yes! I recorded three of them. The first one, at Electrona, obviously with no audience (a set you also broadcasted). The second, from my sister’s rooftop, with a view of Barcelona. And the third one, a special private set for a trance festival called Shankra, where I would like to perform and where I hope to go in 2021. They were the first streamings of my career, but the truth is that I felt comfortable.

What about the cameras? Were you comfortable?

I worked in television for seven years, so I don’t even notice that they are in front of me. (laughs) The truth is, I’m totally immersed in music while playing.

Catalonia and the rest of Spain are getting allowed to go out finally. What was the first thing you did? Were you dying to do something specific?

To be honest, I do pretty much the same thing. (laughs) Well, actually, I’ve been out running around a bit, playing paddleball… I’ve been to Barcelona for work sometime… not much else. If I miss anything, it’s travelling.

Regarding gigs, this past weekend you had your first one. It was in Sa Terrassa, in Tortosa, at that time already in phase 3 of de-escalation. What did you see and how did you feel?

I saw a crazy desire to socialize, disconnect and dance. Already, in the villages and small towns there is much more connection. Everybody knows everybody and you can see that in the clubs. The tables were spread out on the dance floor and people started the night sitting down with the first drinks. I played from 11 pm to 3 am. The bookers of the venue asked me to play some chill music, so I started with a bit of deep house, but, you know, the thing gets crazy quite easy. Those speakers sounded very good and they were tempting me all night long! (laughs)

Wasn’t it weird for you to have the audience sitting down in front of you?

At the beginning, yes, but then you see one move the foot, then another one stand up, and in the end, everybody dance from their table. I’m not kidding: it was one of the best gigs I’ve had in a long time. Brutal energy.

Does this new concept of clubbing make sense?

Look, I remember when I went on my Asian tour. It struck me very much that, on the dancefloors of the clubs where I played, there were tables everywhere and they only reserved the first rows for free dancing. Most people were at tables, eating and drinking and separated from each other. I think we’re going to have to implement it. There’s no other way. You have to get used to it and see it as something temporary.

Xceed-Barcelona-City Hall-B Club-Blanca Ross
Image: © B Club

That’s what I was going to say: maybe it makes sense in the short term, but not in the long term.

I totally agree. We have to look at it as a temporary measure. Of course, in the long run, it’s not viable. We all need the old clubbing style.

Primavera Sound has already rescheduled its entire line-up for 2021 and has reached the sold-out, while many other big festivals also have their dates confirmed for next year. Do you think we will have big scale festivals in 2021?

It hurts to say this, but I find it hard to believe. I think that only the smaller venues, where the public feels at home, will work. Small committee parties, as they say. Until there is a solution to covid-19, be it a vaccine or a reliable treatment, organizing big events in macro-clubs or macro-festivals doesn’t seem to be entirely feasible. I find it difficult to be positive in that sense. Big clubs have little more to do than filling the dancefloor with VIP tables and bottles to make a profit at the high cost of just opening doors.

The downside of that is that it would create an economic barrier that would be just the opposite of the origins of clubbing.

Yes, indeed. And it would be a great shame… and a mistake. We have to find a solution so that the clubs can open without losses, but at the same time without harming the final client, which is the clubber.

Xceed-Barcelona-Razzmatazz Closed
Image: © Razzmatazz

I am inevitably reminded of the lack of public support for our sector in this country, especially if we compare it to some European neighbours.

Absolutely. We miss support for the clubs, all the professionals and the artists themselves, most of whom are freelancers who pay outrageously despite not having a single gig. It’s time to make a stand. But, I insist, without forgetting that it is also time to be flexible and adapt.

What are your plans?

I’ve decided to work part-time on something that has nothing to do with the clubbing industry, electronic music or my career in the visual world. I spend too many hours in the studio. I feel like disconnecting, so I’ll go back to working as a paddle or tennis instructor. Sport keeps me active, fresh and in a good mood. It’s an essential part of me and I think it will be a good way to stay creative.

Xceed-Tarragona-Blanca Ross
Image: © Blanca Ross’ social profiles

A message to the industry?

(silence) Crises are so fucking bad. I have a feeling that, in the coming months, only what is optimal and very well cared for, designed for a specific and faithful audience, will work. Before, perhaps a project that was not completely worked on could go ahead with a bit of luck. Now, that is going to be impossible. If you want to succeed, you’ll have to hit the nail on the head.

And a message for those who miss you on the dancefloors?

I miss you too, even if it sounds like a cliché. I don’t play for myself; I play for the people. And it’s you, the people, your joy, your attitude, your energy and your feedback that drives me every day to want to dedicate myself to music. We will meet again soon. And I hope that very soon I will be able to release my album as well, thus giving you a little piece of me as a present.

ARTIST: BLANCA ROSS

(Cover Image: © blancaross.com)

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