Ekhi Lopetegi from Delorean on Basque and Texas Barbecue
care of True Panther Sounds
Hailing from the autonomous Basque region of Spain and named for the featured vehicle in Back to the Future, Delorean are a dance-friendly foursome with an ever-growing fan base. The band's good fortune began a few years back when the members agreed to move in a more electronic direction. Since then, Delorean have made many year-end top 10 lists and seem on the verge of bigger things.
Speaking on the road between Alabama and New Orleans and in anticipation of Saturday's show at Dada, lead singer Ekhi Lopetegi talked with DC9 about learning English, working with computers and yearning for some Texas barbecue.
Are you comfortable with the alternative dance band label?
Yes, it is better than being called punk rock. We are comfortable with alternative dance band.
The band has evolved quite a bit from when it first began.
We started producing all of the songs with a computer. That was the beginning of a new sound for us. We listened to dance music and all sorts of club music. We liked electronic production. We just wanted to do it, to make music the way dance producers did. That's why we started using computers.
Were you surprised when the new direction produced such positive reviews?
We were pretty surprised. We didn't expect it. The best part is having a good label in the states that supports us. People are working to make that success happen. The success was hard-earned.
How many languages do you speak?
I speak Basque and Spanish Catalan and English and French, but my French is a little off.
How different are Basque and Spanish?
Basque and Spanish are like English and Japanese. They are completely different languages. The structures are completely different. We do share some words and we do share some pronunciations. When I speak Basque to my friends who are Spaniards, they don't understand a word. Some get offended. It is that different.
Have you ever sung in a language other than English?
Yes, but never in Delorean. We would love to make some songs in Basque. We like singing in English because we were influenced by many English bands. It was the dance clubs in England, that's where our musical education came from. We do like referencing our language and in the future, we will do something in Basque.
How did you learn English?
I basically picked it up myself. I listened to a lot of music in English. We do learn English in school in Basque. I don't think that was enough for speaking fluently. We read many magazines in English. That's how we got all the English that we have.
New Order is the band often mentioned as an influence. Are there other bands you would like to mention as influences?
I guess there are lots of bands who are influential on us. New Order was a band that we liked so much. We loved their production. We like who they were and how they approached music. They brought so much to dance music. We liked their attitude.
Why was there a three-year gap between your most recent effort, Apar and 2010's Subiza?
We toured for three years and it took another year to record another record. It is a pretty big gap, but you have to know what was going on inside the band. We never stopped for three years. Apar should have come out quicker, but that's just the way it happened.
One critic said listening to your music is like dreaming and dancing at the same time.
I respect that and I am happy that somebody said that. I guess there is a rave-like feeling in the music that could make you feel like that.
Why did you decide to use real backing vocals on the Apar as opposed to the samples you have used previously?
Basically, we always wanted to work with real singers. We just haven't been able to make that happen. We used vocal samples and we would edit them. We always wanted to replace those samples with real singers and we got to do this on this record. We had many samples, but we wanted to translate those into actual vocal takes. We got in touch with a lot of singers that matched the samples that we wanted to use.
There is a simplicity to the music that is even represented in one- and two-word song titles.
Yes, I like the simplicity of the titles. When I think of a title, I think it needs to condense what is happening in the song. That's why I use just one or two words. I think that way the title sounds stronger. It sounds more powerful and clear.
How did you end up remixing songs for The xx and Franz Ferdinand?
We love remixing. We have done several remixes in the past. Franz Ferdinand got in touch with us and, of course, we said we would remix one of their songs. We contacted The xx because wanted to work with them. We did the remix, they liked it and they put it out. Remixing is something we have fun with. We would like to keep doing it in the future. I think it a very easy thing to do. We like working as producers. We like to take someone else's vocal take and rearrange the whole song. We like to rework songs. You are not working with nothing. You are reprocessing.
Are audiences in Basque and Spain different from audiences in the U.S.?
Honestly, the way an audience reacts just depends on how the night goes. This is the same in all countries. In Madrid or Barcelona on a given night, everyone can be uptight. No one knows why that is. Then, you are in Philadelphia or Austin and people go nuts. Then, you are in San Francisco and people don't speak. When a good show happens, you really don't know why. There are different factors that come into play that you cannot control.
The band has been together 14 years. Can you make it to 20?
Wow, that sounds like a long time. Well, we grew up together. We started as teenagers. We've made our lives through the band and I think that is special. Not many bands can say that. We really appreciate each other as friends. We think that is important. Now, it's a perfect mix of friendship and a professional relationship. We are making a living out of it. That makes the whole story prettier.
What is your favorite American food?
We are looking forward to coming to Texas and eating barbecue ribs. I love the barbecue in Texas. It is like nothing else.
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