Photo Credit: Marco Fischer
Throwing a trio of darts on a map and having them land here and there, you’d have a chance of hitting where each of the three talented musicians that make up Mighty Oaks hails from. An international band, Mighty Oaks bring three-world views to the table on their fittingly-titled 2021 release, ‘Mexico.’ We talked to Claudio, one-third of the band, about what each of them brings to the table, what phase of the quarantine this record feels like, and more in this back and forth exchange.
Kendra: In a trio where members come from various places on the map, do you think that where each of you is from helped to influence not only the band’s overall style but also the band’s worth ethic as well?
Claudio: When we started the band, I think that the musical background of each member played some role in shaping the style and the idea of the band that each one has and depends, to some extent, on the culture in the places where each of us grew up. So yes, perhaps where we come from has influenced what we do and who we are as a band. But I think that’s inevitable for any three people coming together to do creative work. As if moving to a different country, learning a new language, and integrating into a new culture wasn’t enough of putting ourselves out of our comfort zone, I think that starting a band pushed our boundaries of personal and professional growth even further.
Kendra: So early last year y’all were out on the road touring and them bam! Everything came to a halt. In the first few weeks of the chaos that was 2020, did you ever consider that your time with music was done, or were you pushed to move forward with even more fervor than before?
Claudio: This pandemic has seen so many different phases so far that I almost can’t recollect every single one, it’s been a rollercoaster of shock, despair, hope, and resignation. I just know that taking away the live shows from a band like us, has been taking away the ground from beneath our feet. We hope that we’re going to be able to play shows and tour again soon. It’s the part we love the most, the main reason why we are a band. In the past years, we’ve toured almost constantly, and this still feels quite surreal.
The idea that for musicians it could have been over definitely crossed my mind in a moment of despair, but then you realize that music is too important for our culture and that you’re part of a huge system that involves all kinds of music professionals and you feel less alone in this. Our main reaction to the lockdown has been getting to write and record new music. We thought to ourselves, by the time this whole nightmare is over we need to be ready. And so we worked towards that.
Kendra: Possibly the latter because from the insanity came ‘Mexico.’ As we mentioned before, y’all are a very international band, but if you had to compare this record to a particular phase of COVID (Ex. bread baking, worrying, toilet paper hoarding, etc), which would it be and why?
Claudio: Haha, that’s an interesting association. I think it would compare the closest to “gardening” or somehow all those activities that some people turned to, that involve some sort of patience, craft, and slow growth and that while you do it, it takes your whole mind and focus.
Kendra: Because there are some elements of COVID on this album, and many others coming out this year. This isn’t shocking because big events often influence the art that follows. With you guys, your single “Mexico” sort of acts like an escape tool from reality. Other than writing songs like this, what was your go-to form of escapism last year?
Claudio: In ‘Mexico’ we play with the idea of “escapism”, a topic that has become such a huge part of our culture, in terms of traveling but also virtually through screens, think about Netflix and the whole mindless social media scroll: also a form of “escapism” if you will. I guess we all realized the hard way how the alternation of touring and life at home used to keep us sane and played a balancing role in our life, and since we stopped touring we started looking for new kinds of balance. As a band, music has been once again what saved us. Making music and looking forward to putting it out in the world. Personally, I find solace in reading and improvising on the piano.
Kendra: You also mentioned that “Mexico” was sort of inspired by the “me first” attitude we saw a lot of because of COVID. I think that was so poignant because it’s 100% true. In America especially, it was sad to see such high levels of selfishness in a time where we needed to be the complete opposite. Do you feel like humanity can recover from that particular dark side of COVID?
Claudio: A situation of emergency, like a pandemic, brings out the truth in people and societies. It showed that globalization is only superficial, that people are still living in a pretty small world in their mind, unable to grasp the interdependent consequences of their choices and behaviors. A lesson that comes from natural ecosystems. While I’m confident that we’re evolving towards a more responsible way of living, that solidarity is slowly penetrating our culture, I think it’s a slow process that will take longer than my generation will be able to see and requires constant effort from those who are pushing the boundaries of change.
Kendra: t’s getting a little easier with the vaccine rollouts, but it’s still kind of hard to have a definite answer when it comes to future plans given the current state of everything, but as far as what you can control when it comes to your career and creativity – what do you have planned in the coming months for yourself?
Claudio: We planned a European tour for Spring 2022. Our bet is that by then live shows will be allowed again. I can’t tell how much we’re looking forward to it and how we’re hoping that that’s going to be the case! Other than that, we’re going to take it step by step, like we’ve seen it’s the only way through this pandemic.