Until recently, directing films seemed off-limits to women in Spain, but a new generation of filmmakers —Carla Simón, Pilar Palomero, or Paula Ortiz, among others— have broken through that glass ceiling.
About Alaska y Nacho
We chat to Alaska and Nacho Canut (Fangoria) about a bit of everything, almost in honour of the song that opens their latest EP (‘Ex Profeso’). After more a 30-year career, they admit that they’ve lost interest in explaining themselves, but not in talking about any topic that crosses their path (with less restraint than initially implied), from social media to talent, to a hypothetical farewell that would never be preceded by a tour.
They’re an institution, both musically and culturally. Fangoria (Alaska, Mexico City, 1963; and Nacho Canut, Valencia, 1957) have just celebrated 33 years in the music business. They’ve survived being forgotten and misunderstood, as well as generational changes. Due to the pandemic, they’ve been publishing EPs instead of albums —Existencialismo Pop, Edificaciones Paganas and now Ex Profeso—, a format that gives them more creative freedom because they can let go of their conceptual obsession. Although they admit that, at this stage, interviews make them a little lazy, they are quick to respond in a spontaneous and amusing way.
During these times of trending topics, is it better to restrain yourself during interviews?
Nacho. Holding back is normal. Over time, you see things differently and don’t feel like sharing.
Alaska. Until we reach the age of 70, when you can tell the truth. The truth is that you lose interest in explaining yourself.
Un poco todo [A Bit of Everything] is the title of your single; could we use this phrase to define you?
Alaska. Yes, absolutely. It’s something our [art curator] friend Arakis says when you ask her how she is, she always replies: “A bit of everything.” What do I do? A bit of everything. This is how it’s always been.
Are you aware that, with this trilogy of EPs, you’ve captured a mood that stems from the latest global events?
Alaska. It’s true, even though we didn’t make those EPs with this in mind. It’s easier to see these things once they’re done.
Nacho. But this situation has nothing to do with the pandemic, it’s social media that’s making everything different. When we published Criticar por criticar in 2006, social media were blogs and photologs, and now they’re influencers and podcasters.
The only social media platform you use is Instagram. Why?
Alaska. At the beginning, Instagram was only images. Twitter had no images and the idea of giving our opinion seemed absurd to us. So, we opened an Instagram account for Fangoria, then Nacho created one for himself, and then I followed suit. The other day, someone asked us if you can have Instagram and keep things beyond the music private and we said yes, look at the Pet Shop Boys.
Nacho. For example, I know everything about Marc Almond [musician and former member of the band Soft Cell]: that he’s been to Portugal, or who his boyfriend is. But I don’t know anything about Neil Tennant, even less about Chris Lowe [members of the Pet Shop Boys duo Alaska just mentioned].
Alaska. Well, I do know about the delicious pizzas Paul Stanley [from Kiss] makes, what Paul Stanley’s wife is like, and the miles Paul Stanley does on his bike every day (laughs).
“The other day, someone asked us if you can have Instagram and keep things beyond the music private and we said yes” — Alaska
What’s the inspiration behind such a retro cover?
Alaska. A TV series we’ve been watching lately: Halston. Every time we start making an album, we have dinner with [designer] Juan Gatti, and we get lots of ideas.
Do you watch series often?
Nacho. I’ve started a really good one called 1899. I also really enjoyed Manifest, about a plane that disappears, and El Marginal, which is Argentinian.
Alaska. I’ll mention some Spanish ones. I’ve really enjoyed Paraíso, Welcome to Eden and Sagrada familia, featuring the beautiful Najwa.
And have you seen La Ruta, a series inspired by the bakalao route?
Alaska. No, but we experienced that time and it’s better to see series set in times that you haven’t lived through, because you don’t have that critical eye that leads you to say: “People didn’t wear those types of trousers, or we didn’t listen to that kind of music.”
Nacho. The bakalao route was a really interesting phenomenon. It already existed when we were Alaska y los Pegamoides. We’d come to Valencia to play, and we’d buy super singles by Bow Wow, Theatre of Hate...
Alaska. Valencia is the only place in the world where goth and techno music mixed together. It’s really local, it didn’t exist in Madrid.
Is honesty as overrated as you say?
Nacho. Not to mention in pop music. Now, false honesty surrounded by solidarity, empathy... is in vogue.
Alaska. We’ve been told that, in the United States, there are law firms that advise big artists on which charity is cool that year. Then you forget about aids, or whichever cause you were supporting, and throw yourself into the oceans, for example. This is what the world is like, but it doesn’t matter.
Nacho. The strange thing is that there are people that believe that solidarity. Probably those who don’t say anything are the ones who are truly charitable.
Alaska, you were recently awarded the Antena de Oro. What has it meant for you?
Alaska. I love doing television and I’m really grateful. The award is for my career at TVE, for Cine de barrio and BenidormFest, but also for La bola de cristal, La tarde, Alaska y Coronas... Machús [Osinaga, director of Cine de barrio] and I always say that we’d love to make a version with Spanish horror films. Broadcast at two in the morning! Of course, the first film would be Un vampiro para dos [also the title of one of the songs on their latest EP].
Which are your individual talents?
Alaska. Being organised.
Nacho. I’ve come to a point where I have to admit that I know how to write song lyrics.
Alaska. Say it! Louder for the people in the back!
Nacho. Writing lyrics comes easily to me. I’ve written them by myself, with others, based on a suggested theme, adapting English lyrics into Spanish...
“Fangoria’s talent is making what we’re not capable of doing separately work when we’re together” — Nacho Canut
And what about your talent together, as Fangoria?
Alaska. Talent for survival. Being roaches (laughs).
Nacho. And making what we’re not capable of doing separately work when we’re together.
And the talent you admire most?
Nacho. Self-sufficiency. And also, the talent to say: I don’t want any more drama in my life [emulating the first lyric in their song Dramas y comedias], that’s it, no more nonsense.
Alaska. I’d say the same thing. According to Nacho and Mario [Vaquerizo], I drown in a glass of water, although I consider myself to be very independent and self-sufficient.
If you ever had to say goodbye to Fangoria, have you ever fantasised about what that farewell would be like?
Nacho. I think it’d just happen...
Alaska. It’d happen without any fuss. There’d be no more albums, no more concerts.
Nacho. If the years went by, and she didn’t say anything to me, and I didn’t say anything to her... But we’d never say goodbye with one last tour, never.