When she was a child, Inma Bermúdez didn’t know what design was, but she was already a designer. Today, with the 2022 Spanish National Design Award under her belt, she continues to create objects that cast light upon our everyday lives.
A relaxed friendship
Simple and, at the same time, complex, like their music. This is what Javier Echávarri and Javier Ojanguren are like, two friends leading a project, Besmaya, that has set them on the road to success. Despite this, they keep their feet firmly on the ground without giving up on flying because, they concede, they don’t want to limit themselves. To chat about their “relaxed pop” they summon us to the place they feel most comfortable: the recording studio.
We find Javier Echávarri (Santander, 1999) and Javier Ojanguren (Santander, 1999), otherwise known as Besmaya, at Capital Sound studios in Madrid. Two friends who always seem close, well mannered, and without the airs and graces that successful musicians sometimes put on. “We were just listening to and writing some music, would you like some coffee?” says Ojanguren. The simplicity they convey face-to-face is the same that comes through in their songs. “Relaxed pop” that unashamedly dances between modern and alternative without giving up on more electronic sounds. In a very short period of time —they launched their first EP (BESMAYA, Sony Music) at the end of 2022—, they’ve turned into a phenomenon with more than half a million monthly listeners on Spotify. To get a better idea of their story, let’s start at the beginning.
What led two lifelong friends to dive into music and become Besmaya? What made you throw yourself into this adventure?
Echávarri: We’ve been friends since the age of three, we went to school together, and it was our parents’ work that separated us [both left Santander alongside their families]. Despite this, we’ve been writing and making music for a long time, since we were ten. We’ve always enjoyed messing around.
Ojanguren: We were studying at university, and we wanted to have a project for the songs we wrote and force ourselves to record them, which is a way of finishing them.
Since you’re friends, what’s working together like?
Echávarri: You have to learn to separate work and friendship. We do have a lot of discussions, but we usually come to an agreement relatively quickly.
Ojanguren: It has its pros and cons. It’s better to work with someone that you trust, but it can wear down your friendship if there is tension at any point. We handle it well. When we moved to Madrid, we decided to live close to each other, but not together. It’s a way of taking care of our friendship.
“It’s true that we sometimes write with our heart on our sleeve, but we don’t feel like we’re opening up to the world” — Ojanguren
And who are Javi Ojanguren and Javi Echávarri beyond Besmaya?
Echávarri: Besmaya is a way of life… (laughs while looking at Ojanguren).
Ojanguren: Besmaya is rehearsals, concerts, interviews, promos... But we also write and produce for other artists. Always with a single goal: making music and having fun while doing so. We want to release new music, have a good tour, and continue to surround ourselves with great professionals. In short, do things properly. Living like this is a privilege.
For those who haven’t listened to you yet, what does Besmaya sound like? What was the process of finding your own sound like?
Echávarri: I think our sound has become more established, but we’re still looking for it. We don’t like to settle and we’re always looking to go one step further. But, in the end, we make relaxed and relaxing music… I’ve memorised the speech well (both laugh).
How are your songs born in the studio?
Echávarri: Normally, with a few exceptions, one of us has an idea, we bring it into the studio, and we finish it together here. I enjoy turning on Logic [production software], putting on one of those algorithmic drums, and starting to pull out melodies. I can sometimes do two songs in a single afternoon. He [Ojanguren] prefers to take a really good idea and develop it slowly. It’s a good combination.
Your lyrics seem very personal; how do you feel about exposing your feelings to the public?
Echávarri: Is it a problem for you? (Smiling at Ojanguren).
Ojanguren: No (smiles back). They may seem like really personal lyrics, but we make them less so through our writing style: we satirise them and take them lightly. It’s true that we sometimes write with our heart on our sleeve, but we don’t feel like we’re opening up to the world. We’re interested in touching a person and for them to identify with the song.
“Music does take up a lot of our time. It’s our passion and that’s precisely why there’s a risk of it becoming overwhelming” — Ojanguren
The band is growing really quickly. Does it feel overwhelming?
Echávarri: I feel really calm. It’s true that there are things that generate a lot of stress, like touring, because you have to prepare lots of things, go from one place to another while finishing an album…
Ojanguren: I’ll also say that, since we still haven’t started touring yet [the Tour Distendido starts on the 3rd of February in Valencia], we’re really chilled. We live better than we deserve (laughs). Before it was worse, but now we have more time to spend on making music. It does take up a lot of our time. It’s our passion and that’s precisely why there’s a risk of it becoming overwhelming.
Last November you released your first album, but where do you see yourselves in a few years, for example?
Echávarri: Above all we want to continue to make new music, which is what we’re working on. In short, we want to work well so that when we get home we can think: “I’ve done everything I had to do.” Although we don’t want to limit ourselves.
Ojanguren: We don’t want to set ourselves surreal or unachievable goals. We want to continue to write music surrounded by great professionals and great artists. And we want to enjoy ourselves knowing that this will be our lives, at least for a few more years. For us, this is already an achievement and an experience we’re really grateful for.
“Without hard work, talent isn’t worth anything. Nevertheless, talent based on sacrifice is worth everything” — Echávarri
We can’t leave without asking you one last thing; what is talent to you?
Echávarri: Talent is such a broad, subjective and beautiful concept… All I know is that you have to make the most of talent with hard work. Without hard work, talent isn’t worth anything. Nevertheless, talent based on sacrifice is worth everything.
Ojanguren: Talent is what allows you to enjoy your work as much as possible. It’s the compass that points to your place in the world.