La Vida Boheme

Interview La Vida Boheme

La Vida Boheme



 La Vida Boheme Nuestra


"Inspiration is an awakening, a quickening of all man's faculties, and it is manifested in all high artistic achievements."
Giacomo Puccini (1858 - 1924) Italian composer

worldbeatcanada radio: La Vida Boheme owes more to The Ramones and the Clash than to Puccini. Nevertheless, there are compositional twists and turns on their 2 time Latin Grammy nominated album, Nuestra that you’ve never heard from their punk predecessors. Live on the line from Caracas, Venezuela is singer Henry D’Arthenay. Congratulations on the album and the accolades Henry. I’m really digging Nuestra.

Henry D'Arthenay: Thank you very much. I'm glad you like it!

WBC: There’s a percussive itch on tracks like Radio Capital and Danz that supercharges the tunes on this album. Is that your Latin heritage showing through?

HD: Yes, I think so. The one thing I love about street artists in Brazil, is that they don't incorporate foreign techniques until one of their natives starts using them. It's a very honest thing for them to do. They wait until one of them passes the sound or style through the cultural filter and then they start incorporating it and making it their own. That's one of the things that to us makes a lot of sense. We're very big fans of Talking Heads and Kool and The Gang, but we don't want to imitate them. We want to tap into our roots.

WBC: You guys won a battle of the bands contest and have never looked back. That sounds like a pretty typical start for a new band in North America, but it’s a big deal in countries like Venezuela isn’t it, where there’s plenty of resistance and regulations to the exposure of the arts?

HD: Things have gotten a lot better in the past two years. That battle of the bands was part of a festival that's run by a foundation. They are the only people in Venezuela that I'm aware of who are doing a thorough job of keeping a record of the country's pop and rock history. Back in 2008 there was only one way to get noticed and that was by playing that festival. Nowadays, I don't know what happened but it's beautiful, because there are a lot of bands, a lot more festivals playing this stuff. More bands are being played on radio, so it's become more diverse.

WBC: For English only speakers who may be listening to us right now, are there common lyrical themes running through the songs on Nuestra?

HD: It's a celebration of being together. With Nuestra we are celebrating the fact that, for Venezuelans, there are themes that maybe they can relate to in a very universal way. In the same way that human beings relate to each other in general. For Venezuelans there are key things down there that they can relate to and get together for them. So, Nuestra is a celebration of life together, because in Caracas for example, life can become very individualistic. Like, you go by car everywhere, the city is very secure so you can't walk anywhere, you have to go by car. There are some times at night when it is very dangerous to be on the streets, so people live in a ghetto kind of way, you know? And, he best thing about being Latin American is being together, being able to celebrate your own space with people common to you; your brothers.

WBC: Tell us about the production of this album. There’s a lot more going on than bass, drums and guitars.

HD: The production was under the charge of Rodolfo Pagliuca and the mixing by Leonel Carmona. I think aesthetically, we didn't intentionally set out to get a sound, but as we went along we noticed that we were making this very brown record in a sense. And, it was very beautiful because the buildings here in Caracas have a very particular aesthetic. If you see the Radio Capital video, you see a lot of brown buildings and what we love about the sound of Nuestra is that it sounds a lot like the way those buildings look. In that sense it's a very Caracas album, a very raw album. It has a lot of shades of brown and that's amazing because we wanted an album that in a lot of ways reflected the city we grew up in.

WBC: Henry D’Arthenay from the double Latin Grammy Award-nominated band, La Vida Boheme is on line from Caracas. Prior to the big broadcast of the awards, the band will play dates in Southern California in San Diego on November 6th and November 8th in Santa Ana where the warm winds blow. They’re totally plugged into your social media. Check them out on Facebook, My Space whatever and join La Resistance. Henry, are you going play at the awards?

HD: We're going to play in Las Vegas but I don't think it's going to be in the ceremony.

WBC: We’ve been playing Radio Capital a lot on this program, and I love the gabba gabba hey Ramones reference. Does Puccini’s Boheme opera have any special meaning to the band?

HD: Actually, yes. La Vida Boheme, the name actually came before the band was formed. The name was already there. Our first rehearsal space was in this abandoned building in downtown Caracas. The girlfriend of the first drummer made this big flag that said La Vida Boheme. We didn't know about Puccini, but as we went, suddenly there was this one guy at our concert spoke to us about that. Through that guy, we actually came to love the Puccini work. And it was funny, because a lot of the things we were singing about, Puccini was saying in his opera! It was a very cool thing. The 'gabba gabba hey' thing for example; we are very big Ramones fans in the band. But, we didn't know that the actual phrase comes from a movie called “Freaks”, in which one of the actors says, “Gabba gabba hey, we accept you.” So again, it's very cool because Radio Capital is very much about being accepted or being an outlaw. In a very 'Camus' kind of way, like he said about the outlaw as one who “lives outside of society but not necessarily against it.”

WBC: Let’s hear something else from Nuestra. We love the album cover by the way. It looks great.

HD: Ohhh, we love it too! You know, the artwork was the first thing we had for the album. We hadn't even recorded the album and the artwork was already done.

WBC: Can you set up (I’m not sure how to pronounce it because you’ve spelled it out like an acronym); I.P.O.S.T.A.L.

HD: Ih pawst ill is a double reference. We're very big fans of the postal service and the postal service here in Venezuela is called Ipostal. And, we thought it was funny to have that name for a postal service (apostle). And the second thing; when Chavez stepped into power, he changed all the logos of the postal service. You know, revolutions, they tend to change the logos of everything, they change the history of everything that represents the country and even the postal service gets revolutionized. And actually, the current slogan of Ipostal is “Revolutionizing mail.” So, we found it kind of ironic that letters could get revolutionized.

Henry D'Arthenay was interviewed October 7th 11 for worldbeatcanada radio