Photo Credit: Desdemona Dallas
While it’s been some time between the last album by Federico Aubele and May 2022’s ‘The Holographic Moon,’ the multi-talented musician admits that he has been busier than a bee and beaver combined. That is where this conversation started and what came after was a mix of relationship foundations, the beauty of past technology, and more like navigating music scenes once you’ve unpacked in a new city…
Kendra: It’s been a minute since your last album. What moved you to start working on ‘The Holographic Moon?’
Federico Aubele: I actually never stopped working. I have 52 songs in ‘The Holographic Moon’ folder on my computer, haha, many of them in several versions. The first version of the album I finished was in 2017, it was even mastered and all. But something wasn’t quite right about it and I kept working. The main challenges were how to write lyrics in English that I would feel as satisfied with as with the ones I could write in Spanish.
The other aspect that was very relevant was how to evolve creatively and still be me. I didn’t want it to be an aimless break, the kind a teenager does with their parents out of anger. That requires a lot of trial and error, search and discard, decant and filter. You have to work very closely and then take distance. In an elliptical way, it helped a lot that the album got rejected over 20 times by different labels. Every rejection motivated me to keep working. It was a long process that also reflected internal challenges and changes, as everything we do always does.
Kendra: Looking back at who you were six years ago to today, how do you feel you’ve grown as an artist in that time and how did you apply that to the new album?
Federico Aubele: I’ve been living in Brooklyn for 12 years now and English has become my everyday language. I’m in a relationship and live with an English-speaking person. Spanish is not nearly as relevant to me as it used to be and I don’t like being pulled back by unnecessary attachments to the past. So one thing that changed was that I started prioritizing English lyrics. I feel comfortable writing in my third language (German is my second). I read quite a lot about Joseph Conrad’s late adoption of English as his writing language over his native polish and found inspiration in his own journey with that. The other aspect was to avoid heavy beats. I sing in a very quiet voice and heavy-hitting beats don’t blend well with it. The beat elements, where there are any, are very minimal. The song and most importantly the melody and lyrics are what is at the forefront.
Kendra: So your second single off ‘The Holographic Moon,’ “Old Spanish Films” is sort of like a reality check of sorts in regards to relationships. I think we often get swept away by the fairy tale of love and put the fantasy ahead of everything else. You’ve noted that this song is sort of that, the realization that no foundation was built. Has writing this song helped you approach love differently now?
Federico Aubele: The song is the result of me going through such an experience not too many years ago and reflecting on it. I’ve probably been through this experience in the past too, everyone does, I just didn’t fully analyze it. The thing is that the elements that create the mirage the relationship is built on are so strong while they are happening, that it’s very hard to realize it’s a mirage.
So I’d say it’s inevitable to go through situations like that in our lives. You can’t hold back on something that feels right and good just because you’re afraid of you realizing afterward it was just a reflection. For as long as there are no obvious red flags I think we have to approach love very openly. If it doesn’t last there’s still always something we can take from that experience. It may take time to be able to see what you got from it but there’s always something there. And you also gave the other person something valuable. We give and receive.
Kendra: As for the video, this was your first time in the director’s chair. Are you leaning towards doing it more in the future?
Federico Aubele: Yes! I enjoyed the experience so much. Last year I was thinking I wanted to find other creative outlets besides music and writing and this feels perfect for that. I’ve always gravitated towards images, even when I write, it is very image-driven. I love taking photographs, doing collages, painting, and drawing, so this feels like a natural addition to the different ways I have to express myself with images. Music helps a lot though, it’s the backbone and organizing principle of the video. The images serve the music in the same way the arrangements serve a song.
Kendra: You said this video was inspired by a variety of things – including early 2000’s tech. It’s hard to think that those flashy, colorful iMacs are considered vintage but alas, they are now on the shelf alongside 8-track players and VCRs. Is your love of them personal, just a nostalgic type of love or are you just someone who appreciates gadgets?
Federico Aubele: Objects from the past feel alive with stories and have a strong evocative power I think. I love going to vintage furniture shops and thrift stores, and seeing how the time the objects displayed were made and changed over the years. Very old things, like a 1940’s radio, are full of stories from a time I didn’t experience so even though I can appreciate their evocative value, they evoke a time I’ve only seen in black and white pictures. A disc man from 2002 on the other hand is something I had at some point and used quite a lot. It evokes a time I lived and have a lot of vivid memories of.
So I think they serve as poetic signifiers for the past. What’s considered poetic or not changes with time too. Some may say a 40’s wooden radio is more poetic than a late 90’s plastic Handy Cam, but the wooden radio probably didn’t seem very poetic in the 60’s when it was just a couple of decades old and the HandyCam will likely feel very poetic in the year 2082.
Kendra: You’ve called several places home, but are now residing in Brooklyn. When you move to a new place, how do you go about navigating a brand new music scene?
Federico Aubele: I usually know some people already before I move, which helps a lot. In the post-internet world, you have a lot of virtual connections with people from different places. Some people even question the value of the concept of a scene in this era. But I did notice that the human factor and knowing people in person makes a big difference though. It’s different from just knowing people through social media. But it does help a lot to know some people virtually before landing in a new city. It adds some lighthouses in the general dark confusion of moving. The confusion can be very inspiring I have to say, haha.
Kendra: Time for a side note…since April showers bring May flowers, I’d love to know what song makes you bloom with happiness and why?
Federico Aubele: It changes with time, I don’t think I can have an all-time favorite song (that would be unhealthy I think) but right now I’ve been revisiting The Cocteau Twin’s “Cherry Coloured Funk,” which always fills me with rainy joy and hope. And, like a playground’s slide, once I listen to that song I have to listen to the entire album.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘The Holographic Moon’ out on May 27th, what else can you let us in on? Are you touring this year?
Federico Aubele: Touring plans are conditioned by Covid of course but ideally I’m going on tour in the fall. New band with great new visuals too, I want for the live experience to be rich on a lot of different levels. There will also be more videos coming out (directed by me!) and I’m starting a Substack for thoughts, ideas, and poems I write. Stuff I wouldn’t have a way to share with people otherwise.