Introducing The Otherness, an Argentinian rock group inspired by The Beatles and Bob Dylan
The Argentinian music scene may not be one you are that aware of but here at Far Out we recently got the opportunity to have a catch up with to chat with Buenos Aires rockers The Otherness who gave us get the low down about their upcoming record, how British culture has influenced them plus letting us know more about the musical landscape in their home country and how it has been shaped by tragedy.
Far Out:How has English music and culture influenced The Otherness?
The Otherness: “We feel grateful towards England because when we first released our debut single and hit UK fields, the response from the young people in the shows was genuinely amazing.
“We’ve toured UK four times so far but we never do tourism in UK. It’s all about the music. We discovered that London and the rest of England are like worlds apart if you consider how people relate to it. London is a huge monster-sized competitive capitalist snake city in which we learnt to struggle in order to make progress with the band. We have found that the Northern hospitality has proven to be true in cities like Sheffield and Blackpool, for instance. We love London’s pluralism and multicultural society, but then we found out that the real English culture belongs to smaller cities. The world has a stupid tendency to look alike in terms of capital cities, same designs for shopping centres, coffee shops, etc which we label “hypernormalisation” in one of our songs.
“Each big city has its trademark’s and iconic stuff but that’s not very exciting to us, we like dynamic and fresh experiences. When it comes to music, we love the way English people consume music. It’s everywhere, all around, from corporate elevators’ casual conversations to beef and ale pie plus emergency peas at any working class dinner table. Musically though, we are more influenced by American artists, preferably black music.”
if it’s possible to describe, who would you say are the main influences musically for the band?
“We appreciate the bigger names because they have started it all and paved the path for young artists like us, you know. We really love artists in the likes of Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Little Richard, James Brown, Elvis Presley, Lou Reed, Fats Domino, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan and Lead Belly, although we grew up as little kids listening to Nirvana, Tupac, Oasis and some local acts.
“The Beatles and The Clash might clearly be our favourite English bands. We do wear our influences on our sleeve and we are fine with that. Music is what it is. It’s all about the songwriting if you really want to make the difference. No one will discover hot water for the first time. Elton John and David Bowie are other English artists we are really keen on.”
You embarked on a European tour last year, how did you find it?
“It was really nice. We got the chance to play in Germany, Holland and Denmark for the first time ever. Everything was new and the response from the people was so positive and beyond our expectations that we have plans now to tour UK and Europe again next year. Promoters are generous. Changing food habits was also really good. The currency was a mess in Denmark. Hamburg in Germany is quite exciting, nightlife is still vibrant. Way too many bikers in Amsterdam, you need an extra pair of eyes in your nape to deal with the traffic situation.”
Having sampled music in Europe and the UK, how different would you say the rock ‘n’ roll scene in Argentina?
“It is getting better after a tragedy that hit really hard. Around the end of 2004 there was a venue called Cromagnon where 194 people died there because of a fire. After that fateful incident, lots of underground and grassroots venues were closed due to irregularities in terms of security policies. It was a pretty embarrassing and pathetic symbol of government failure in Argentina, since then people found out that there were lots of music clubs which received permits despite lacking basic fire safety measures like fire extinguishers –just to mention the least and obvious.
“We started the band in 2009 and honestly, we didn’t have many options to play live in Buenos Aires at the time. Argentine music fans are very passionate and they have an international reputation in that regard. It is not the same when we discuss bands. Now, the underground rock scene is better than the mainstream. New bands like us, among others, have the chance to play in nice clubs for a good audience. Anyway, rock bands don’t rule. Mainstream charts are topped by Trap, Reggaeton and Cumbia.
“Also, it’s hard to tour the country because it is big and large and you don’t have proper trains to move from one city to another in a fast way. It is very expensive to travel all over the country. Musically, we think Argentine music stands out when it comes to Tango and Folk, especially in the north. Astor Piazzolla and Ricardo Vilca are like heroes to us. Rock & Roll music is alright, but the language is not the best for the genre and sounds a little weird. Actually, there’s nothing big or new going on because in South America there’s a sort of delay: both in fashion and music things happen later and here you have the rise of indie music when that same thing happened in England 15 years ago. It’s just an opinion. Thing is we think most of it sounds like a cheap translation from American or English rock music. And when a band comes out with something original, it is not rock music. Come to Buenos Aires and check it out, mate. We can be your tour guides.”
Your sound is from the brand of old school rock ‘n’ roll which has seemed to have slipped away from the mainstream, what are your thoughts about the current wider popular musical landscape and does it worry you?
“We don’t think it is an old fashioned sound in the first place. We play a cool mix of rock, soul and pop-catchy melodies. Feel free to come to a gig and notice what a fresh sound it is. Music is timeless since Internet, anyway. Kids are discovering new artists every single day if they are curious enough to go out of the comfort zone provided by algorithms and hyped playlists. That’s not bad at all but we still do prefer kids discovering new music through live acts and experiences. That’s why we produced our debut album in a way that it is grassroots and it is faithful to what we play live too.
“We think the current popular musical landscape is about to change. Same sounds, genres and producers are not meant to last forever, all of them at the same time, you know. On the other hand, contents nowadays are not big deal. Lyrics are very stupid and superficial, most of them. Even rappers are lazy to add meaning to the skill of rhyming. Material boasting and sexism just leave us alone, mate.
“Anger, rage, resentment, objectification of women’s bodies, guns and the only possible outcome of that is fucking violence and pain. We despise violence in any form. We’d love kids to have fun, be happy and curious; we’d like them to be defying the establishment and corruption through freedom, creativity and everyday willpower. Getting things to move forward, you know.
“Greta Van Fleet and Leon Bridges in USA are producing good music that has nothing to do with Grime, Trap and Hip Hop. Those genres are getting more and more repetitive and monotonous. Good music, classy tunes, what you call “belters”, will last forever. We aimed to be part of the major leagues and we are not worried at all.”
Finally, what does the future hold for The Otherness?
“We’ve already written 14 new songs for the second album and also have started to work on our new single called “Gotta Go/ I Hear You Say”. The first song is very uplifting with a kind of funky killer riff and a crystal clear message to decriminalise migration and the latter is a ballad, a vocal duet.
Luckily, we had a really good impact on the youth all over UK with the tour and we were also surprised by the fact that in several venues from London, Hamburg, Glasgow, Sheffield and Blackpool among others, also kids and adults reacted in a groovy way to the original songs and danced to our music together with their sons. Mikey Jones from ‘This Feeling’ has been in touch with us recently. He’s a really cool dude and we love his events all along the country. Hence, we have plans to tour UK again next year and reach out to more people. We’ll do our best to make things happen.