La Bien Querida

Spells of Love and Music

10/04/2019 · By Rafa Cervera
bien querida brujeria
La Bien Querida in a promotional image from her new album ‘Brujería’. © Alfredo Arias

La Bien Querida is back with ‘Brujería’, an album that works as a magic spell in many ways. One of the leading figures in the Spanish alternative scene –she also has a cameo in the 3rd season of Spanish TV series ‘Paquita Salas’—, with this album she is celebrating her first decade in music.

Ten years ago, La Bien Querida debuted with an album that automatically earned her a place of honour in Spanish alternative music. Romancero was the beginning of a unique career that has spawned six albums so far. “When I think about it, I don't believe it,” says Ana Fernández-Villaverde (Bilbao, 1972), the woman behind the stage name La Bien Querida. Today she has to talk about Brujería (Elefant Records), her most recent work. An album with melodies wrapped in an evocative haze of sound. "My father had a house full of occult books and magazines," she says about the origin of her relationship with the esoteric. “People used to go to his house to have him impose his hands on them and to practice telekinesis. He had a medium friend and together they held Ouija séances. I used to accompany him, but I never participated in them. Children had to wait in a different room. For me all that was completely normal,” she recalls.

Could we say that this is an album about witchcraft understood as a metaphor for love?
Absolutely. It is also an album that is loaded with romanticism. The mystery and magic of the sound design Carlos René [producer and bass player in the Mexican Axolotes] has made for the album is bewitching, you feel as if you’d fallen into a spell, so it suited me perfectly to use witchcraft and the esoteric as concepts. Actually, all my albums are about love, there is not one that doesn’t talk about it. I think that, save for two, all my songs are about of love. It’s my thing. I guess it's something that I have to be fighting for all the time. It also seems very important to me, I mean any kind of love is, not just passionate love. Everyone is in love with something—a person, work, money. We all need to feel dedication and empathy for something specific. Love has many angles—sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad, like anything else in life.

Can you give us an example of a modern spell?
We are bewitched by new technologies. We’re going mad about them, especially about mobile phones, those are the worst, they’re black magic. Everything they brings us is bad, but we’re still hooked to them. It’s a bit like love: sometimes you fall in love with someone who takes things from your instead of giving you something, but you stick to them anyway.

Should we reclaim what witches really were and meant in the past?
Indeed, because a witch embodies a woman liberated from all dominations and limitations. Any woman with an uncomfortable behaviour was labelled as a witch and was persecuted. It’s time to reclaim them, to reclaim women with a mind of their own who refused to be wallflowers. Women who were killed for being witches were actually killed for being women.

“It’s time to reclaim witches, to reclaim women with a mind of their own who refused to be wallflowers

If you had to choose one band or singer, who would that be?
I guess The Cure. I also like New Order, Depeche Mode, Lana del Rey, Cigarretes After Sex, Franco Battiato, Rosalía, C. Tangana... I have no prejudices with regards to music. And if I had, I wouldn’t say I do [laughs]. But really, generally speaking I don't have any. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music when I'm composing because that’s what inspires me the most.

Is there a before and after your cameo in Paquita Salas? Has your fan base expanded in any way?
I think it has so because people listen more to my music in Spotify, specially the two songs from the series, "Dinamita" and "Los jardines de marzo", which were not the most popular songs in Fuego, my previous album. They’re the best songs form that album, in my opinion, and the Javis saw it that way, too, and that’s why they picked them for the show. I’m very grateful to them because when you are asked for a song, it’s usually to play it just a little or to use it as background music in a scene. But in this case, you can hear the two songs from beginning to end, it’s almost like a music video, and there’s my cameo to boot.

Have you cast any spell with positive results to you?
If you believe in spells, they work. That's why you always have to resort to white magic, if you use to black magic, you’ll pay the consequences. Brujería talks about that, too. Any art form is like a micro spell that is cast into the universe. A song is a spell. I have written songs about my fantasies and they’ve been fulfilled. Writing is a magical act of transformation. That’s why we’re usually told we should be careful what we wish for. The thing is that we’re usually not sure about what we want, and we send confusing messages. If you’re clear about your wishes, the spell is already underway.

Do songs work as spells for the listener?
I may write a song and, although my lyrics are very clear, you may interpret them differently. You make it yours, no matter I was thinking about something else when I wrote it. That's why I don't like to explain my songs. Once I write them, they’re no longer mine, and I’d rather people take them into their own world and into their own lives, so they become spells for the listener. If I explain them, I strip them of their mystery and magic.

“I have written songs about my fantasies and they’ve been fulfilled. Writing is a magical act of transformation”

In Brujería you sing with Jota from Los Planetas, how important has he been in your career?
When I started writing music, which I did unpretentiously, he told me that I was very good, that I had a knack for it. But now, in hindsight, I know he says that to everyone, but when he told me, I believed him and I thought, “If he says so, then I’m good.” And thanks to that conviction, I recorded a demo. That push helped me a lot. Antonio Luque [from Sr. Chinarro] was also very helpful because Jota wasn't sure I could sing, but Antonio said, "What do you mean she can’t sing her songs?” That second push encouraged me to sing. But when I started, I wanted people to value me for what I was worth, I didn't want anyone to think I was anyone's friend, so in my first albums I didn't invite Jota to sing with me.

What is talent for you, Ana?
Talent, for me, is work. You have to work to make it shine. You may have been born with talent, but if you don't work on it, it’s useless. Everyone is good at something; we all have a superpower. I’m sure we do.