Monday, November 29

Clara Peya: “Discourses change, but art spaces are still saturated with white men” | The weekly country


As a child, when it was her turn to rehearse the piano, Clara Peya He would put the scores on the music stand, go to play or do anything else, and when he heard his parents’ car coming back from shopping, he would run to sit on the stool again, pretending that he had been practicing his scales for an hour. “I hated the piano, I had a mania for it. It takes away hours of living, of walking, of being with your friends. I am very critical of regulated teachings ”, she says. However, the instrument ended up becoming his trade and something like a salvation. “The piano has given me a mother tongue and without it I don’t know what I would have done,” he says. And although it sounds very emphatic and, reading it, it seems that it only speaks in the headlines, it almost always avoids the journalist’s gaze. He has not come to sell anything.

As everyone told him that he was good at that, he ended up studying at the prestigious ESMUC in Barcelona and also trained in jazz. “Not because I liked it, but because that gave me value as a person, or that’s what they had always told me.” There he also realized that he had no intention of being a concert performer, as his aunt and grandmother were, and spending decades playing the same pieces by the same composers. “That they were always the same white men.” At 18 he wrote his first songs and at 23 he began to compose seriously. At the age of 35 he has published 10 albums and participated in dozens of shows, either putting the music in theatrical works, as a memorable Jane Eyre with Ariadna Gil, or in the assemblies of Les Impuxibles, the company he founded together with her sister, the choreographer Ariadna Peya. The last thing he has done is the accompaniment of the work And only I escaped (And only I escaped), also at the Lliure, and start giving concerts to present their latest album, Periphery, perhaps the most sound mainstream and affordable of all he has done.

Peya recorded his latest album, 'Perifèria', with a wall piano.  “It is an elitist instrument.  You can't talk about peripheries and put a grand piano on stage.  I was interested in giving it a more raw sound,
Peya recorded his latest album, ‘Perifèria’, with a wall piano. “It is an elitist instrument. You can’t talk about peripheries and put a grand piano on stage. I was interested in giving it a more raw sound, “he says.Anna Huix

For the 10 songs on the album he wanted to use a humble piano, wall and muted. “It is an elitist instrument, perhaps the most, but you cannot talk about peripheries and put a grand piano on stage. I was interested in giving it a more raw sound, “he says. For the first time, he wants his songs to be heard with a male voice, that of the singer Enric Verdaguer. All except one, the song Frontier woman, that her friends Ana Tijoux and Alba Flores sing and which is dedicated to the day laborers of Huelva, who are also the recipients of the benefits of the single. “It was Alba’s idea, who had gone to some Jornaleras en Lucha meetings and explained it to me. These people are sustaining and feeding Europe in a situation of complete exploitation ”.

Peya is an atypical pianist, who plays by heart. He says he hasn’t opened a sheet music since he left school. And he composes by playing and recording himself directly with the iPhone’s Voice Memos application. On your mobile, all those seeds of future music are called “embryos.” Now, for example, he has it full of “FAM embryos” (hunger, in Catalan), the music of the show that will take with his sister to the Grec Festival in Barcelona this summer, and that addresses issues such as racism, colonialism and gordofobia.

A couple of years ago, the Generalitat of Catalonia granted him the National Culture Award, that usually goes to the hands of figures more comparable with el establishment, and the pianist interpreted it as a facelift of the award itself. “I am a girl, young and feminist, and I am not a rapper, but a classically trained pianist. I am the most combative of the bourgeoisie, and that is going well for them, ”he said then.

After confinement, the 35-year-old composer changed her Barcelona apartment for a house near the Montserrat mountain.  In addition, he has abandoned social networks.
After confinement, the 35-year-old composer changed her Barcelona apartment for a house near the Montserrat mountain. In addition, he has abandoned social networks. Anna Huix

If Peya does not have patience for something, it is to be used as a mascot of dissent, as an artist with a sustainable dose of danger who is invited to give something bohemian to the party of the normative. “I have felt this for years. They call you to represent a group. I arrive at a site and it gives me the feeling that they want me to be quota. Yes or not. What we need now is to dynamite the spaces so that things move ”.

She is also at a curious halfway point in her career, too young to be old and too old to be young, she believes. “I am no longer 20 years old. I’ve been on stage for 15 years and I notice that things haven’t changed at all, there haven’t been so many different performances. Speeches change, but spaces are still saturated with cis white men [cisgénero] both straight and gay, because he lobby gay is powerful in the art world. It seems that there is an order to accept diverse people. Come on, now the women and then we’ll see. I do not like that. I prefer to open the doors and for us all to enter at once ”.

He says he tries to ensure political coherence in everything he does. Does that force you to say no to many projects? “No, because they don’t fit me. There is no male, white, cis director who has asked me for anything. All this profile of people is not interested in me either artistically or personally. In general, I upset because I am questioning them. And it is not about provoking just because, I provoke so that things change, so that we are all comfortable ”.

“I am a girl, young, feminist and classically trained pianist.  I am the most combative of the bourgeoisie and that is already going well for them, ”says Peya.
“I am a girl, young, feminist and classically trained pianist. I am the most combative of the bourgeoisie and that is already going well for them, ”says Peya.Anna Huix

As a person used to feeling uncomfortable, a word that she likes very much, she is not willing to go around “giving TED talks around the world saying that you can be happy playing the piano.”

He does not intend to prop up the widely held idea that music is healing and that playing it is therapeutic. “As a child I suffered bullying for having a non-normative femininity and for what as an adult I was diagnosed as an obsessive compulsive disorder. Since then I have come out half well, it seems that that is why I am a model of improvement. But it’s not like that. Yes, music is a refuge for me, and I believe in art as a social transformer, but I suffer an egg and there are days when I don’t feel like living, like anyone else. This has worked for me. The piano calms me down and I love music, but I don’t know if making this my job has put me in an emotionally vulnerable place. It would be better for me to be in the fields and work the land, ”he says.

He’s in it too, in stopping a bit and smelling the flowers. Peya passed confinement in the La Plana Foundation, an artistic cooperative in the middle of the field, between Vic and Manresa, with 22 other people. In the mornings they did community work: they took care of the garden, cut firewood and restored what was necessary for the house. In the afternoon, she and the rest of the residents (astrologers, therapists, seamstresses, yoga teachers) could go about their business. There he took the opportunity to compose some songs on the album, play sports and go for a long walk. “It looked like Project Man,” he jokes.

Clara Peya, in a field near her house.
Clara Peya, in a field near her house. Anna Huix

When he returned from the covid retreat, he found that his sister had taken over her apartment in Barcelona and decided to look for a secluded house, near the mountain of Montserrat, where she now lives. As part of that ecological transition, social media has been removed. A measure of self-protection, he says.

Nor is it that you want to put the brakes at all. Like many artists of his generation, he has a somewhat pathological relationship with work. “I don’t see myself slowing down the production rate, because I’m in an age crisis and I think that if I lower it now, then I’ll be older and they won’t want me on stage. Also, when I don’t have the high rhythm I feel empty. Deep down, I am a replica of the system ”.

A couple of years ago, the Generalitat of Catalonia awarded her the National Prize for Culture, which usually goes to the hands of figures more comparable to the 'establishment', and the pianist interpreted it as a facelift of the award itself.
A couple of years ago, the Generalitat of Catalonia awarded her the National Prize for Culture, which usually goes to the hands of figures more comparable to the ‘establishment’, and the pianist interpreted it as a facelift of the award itself.Anna Huix


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