I recently had an opportunity to interview (via email) Paola Rogue of the band, The Great Wilderness. I found her to be delightfully open, articulate, and enthusiastic about her band’s music; she has a good sense of humor as well. Here is the interview:
NWs: First of all, thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. Let’s start with the band’s name; How did you decide upon The Great Wilderness?
Paola: Well, we wanted something that represented our music, which gives great relevance to space and layers of sound, but it also had to be something organic to reference our creative process. The Great Wilderness seemed like the right choice at the time.
NWs: TGW is a four piece, so who are the fabulous four, and what duties does each perform?
Paola: The Great Wilderness is Paola Rogue (vocals, guitars), Jimena Torres (guitars, backing vocals), Monserrat Vargas (bass) and Andrea San Gil (drums).
NWs: Who writes the lyrics, and how is the music worked out?
Paola: Usually I come to the band with a basic idea, and then we all improvise around it. I tend to write the lyrics, but only after the melody is completely worked out. To me, the music, especially the melody, is the most important part of a song. We like lyrics that are ambiguous enough to allow people to relate in their very own way.
NWs: How did TGW come to be? Who formed the band, who joined later, who left, that sort of thing?
Paola: I’ve been active in the Costa Rican music scene for a while now. Before founding TGW, I played in an alt-rock group called Lolita Piñata along with Andrea (drums). The band fell apart after two years and two albums, but Andrea and I decided to keep going somehow. So, I recruited Monserrat, an old friend from my teenage years, and we started rehearsing, arranging songs, and playing gigs.
In early 2010, we started working on Afterimages of Glowing Visions, and suddenly realized the music was missing something. It was then that we found Jimena and asked her to join the band. Luckily she accepted immediately.
NWs: Are you shoegazers, and if so, how did you get that way? Who are your influences? Is there a scene that celebrates itself in Costa Rica? What other local bands should I check out?
Paola: I don’t know if we’re shoegazers per se, but most of us enjoy bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and Ride. There are some good bands in Costa Rica like Niño Koi, VAC and Poper, but Shoegaze is not all that popular here; I guess it was born to be some kind of cult movement.
NWs: I’ve never been to Costa Rica, but I hear that it’s beautiful, a great holiday destination. What’s it like to be from there?
Paola: It’s complicated, especially if you’re a musician. It’s a nice place to live and a great holiday destination, but its culture doesn’t pay much attention to art or modern music making, so it’s virtually impossible to quit your day job and just be a professional musician. The government doesn’t pay much attention to us.
NWs: I wish I could say the same about my government. Has the band performed outside of Costa Rica?
Paola: We haven’t, unfortunately. But we’d like to, so, hello promoters.
NWs: When you come to play in Portland, will you put me on “the list”; I’ve never been backstage?
Paola: Consider it done. We can all sit down to play old LPs afterwards.
NWs: Backstage with an all-woman band. Sounds great, but it wouldn’t be fair to you guys. Being seen hanging out with a fifty-six year old, bald git isn’t going to do your image any good. Beside, someone might mistake me for your manager, and I could end up committing the band to a very bad record deal.
What are your plans for the immediate future?
Paola: Right now, we’re trying to put a video together, play more shows in Costa Rica, find a way to play outside the country, and keep going. We also want to re-record our first EP when we get a chance, but the priority is making new music and getting it out for people to enjoy.
NWs: I’ve noticed that Tiny Monsters has been among the top ten most popular releases on Bandcamp’s Shoegaze page for the last few weeks (it’s currently in the top five). How does that make you feel?
Paola: Excited. There are a lot of good acts in Bandcamp screaming for recognition. Being in the top five leaves us speechless. We just want to get our music out there and have people share it with their friends. Bandcamp has been a great tool so far.
That’s it. Once again, I’d like to thank Paola for her time and candid answers. I look forward to seeing The Great Wilderness play Portland someday soon. In the meantime, the reader should follow my example, head over to TGW‘s Bandcamp page, and download the two EPs which the band have made available – at no charge and in a wide array of formats. Afterimages of Glowing Visions can be found here, and Tiny Monsters, here.
Afterimages of Glowing Visions by The Great Wilderness
©2010 The Great Wilderness
My Rating: ✭✭✭✩
iPod Songs: “Silverscreen” and “Sandbox”
The two opening tracks: “1956” and “Ada” are very good as well, but didn’t make it to my iPod because they contain canned soundbites near the end of each song – an irrational quirk of mine, not a legitimate complaint; I don’t skip the songs when listening through speakers.
Tiny Monsters by The Great Wilderness
©2010 The Great Wilderness
My Rating: ✭✭✭✭
iPod Songs: “On Smoke”, “Light Us Green”, and “Barcelona”
The quality of this second EP marks what appears to be a second point in an upward trajectory for The Great Wilderness.