Three of the albums he has released under his own label have to do with the animal world ('Wolverines' in 2013, 'La Reina Pez' in 2018 and now 'Mirlo Blanco' in 2022), why that reference and why what 'White Blackbird'?
I started my career having city songs on every record. And, with my first independent record, the first song I wrote was 'Wolverines, which was about a wolf. I realized that it was easier for me to identify with an animal. Perhaps because the adjectives attributed to them are simpler: if it's raw, it's raw; if it's wild, it's wild… Starting with the wolf I realized that I had already made reference to butterflies with my album 'Metamorphosis'. That's where the need to give continuity to my albums began to grow in me. Then came 'The Fish Queen', which seemed like a good title to me. With this latest album, the first song I wrote was 'Mirlo Blanco', while I was watching the blackbirds. They are birds that do not copy sounds of nature, but directly create their own trill and I felt super identified. So I said, "Let's go back to the animals, I'm a blackbird."
'Txoria txori', opens 'Mirlo blanco' as an introduction. Why did you choose this more than 60-year-old Basque song to present the album?
When I first heard this song and fell in love with it, I didn't know what it said. So I did some research and saw Joxean Artze's poem from 1957. This poem talks about how to raise a bird in the wild and how you can't clip its wings if you really love it. My album was written, and I wanted this song to be the introductory valley to enter the album because I think it's a hypnotizing song, even if it's very short.
Does 'Mirlo Blanco' tell a story from beginning to end according to the order of its songs?
Partly yes, and partly no. They are songs that are written with the intention of being an album, but it is true that the listening order of an album seems important to me because I don't make singles, I make records. So they are set up to produce a kind of emotional journey where you can really see who Vega is and why he writes the songs that he writes. And that is well represented in the tracklist.
Manuel Carrasco and you were partners in the second edition of 'Operación Triunfo' in 2022. Why has this collaboration with him taken so long to arrive and why in 'Contigo'?
It's very simple: we've been friends for 20 years. Being neighbors in the same building, we met our respective partners and formed our families… We dined together many times and, at one of those dinners, I said to him: “Do you realize that we have never done a song together despite coming from a different background? program in which everyone has sung with everyone? So after he said yes, I looked for a song on the album that he could be comfortable with. Also, 'Contigo' is dedicated to my husband and he knows us both, so it seemed nice that if someone was going to sing that song, they knew the story. It is a luxury because he is a huge artist, although I see him more as a friend and I forget who he is.
The concept of the album could be "reborn", a word that is repeated in many songs. What is Vega reborn from?
I realized the repetition of the word “reborn” in the album once I finished it. He wasn't aware that he was doing this, and perhaps that's why the idea of being reborn is so redundant. But I think it responds to a desire that is real, which is something I also say in the song 'Bipolar': “I'm not going to give up”. I am a person who is constantly rising from the ashes and wanting to get up, so I think this verb sums up the album well.
How much and how has the pandemic inspired the creation of 'Mirlo blanco'?
We have all been through it and we are all conditioned to think that I can be talking about the pandemic in my songs, but many of them are written before. However, the life experience we have had, where we have realized that we are vulnerable, rethinking our priorities, means that we probably listen to the songs in a different way. It's also nice because I think it gives even more value to the songs when they are heard from the perspective of someone who wants to focus on what is important, and that is the focus that I want to put in my work.
Which song from this latest album is your favorite and why?
I think it's the first record where I'm not so sure. The content of this album is so personal, that until I roll it out there and do concerts, I won't be clear about it. Right now I would tell you that I am at the moment of 'Blackbird white' because I am in the starting square.
'Gods and demons', 'Bipolar'… is Vega waging a battle through his songs?
That internal battle has been waged for many years... In the music industry, artists sometimes tend to separate artist from person, and with the passing of each album I've realized that I'm incapable of doing it. I cannot separate Mercedes from Vega; Yes, I am an artist, but I cannot put my desires as a person below the interests of my artistic career. So now I say that, for the first time, Vega is singing on the Mercedes album and not the other way around.
You are an independent artist involved in every step of creating your work. Have you ever been overwhelmed to the point of considering quitting?
With all the albums, at some point in the middle of the cycle I always consider throwing everything to take wind. It's normal because, as an independent artist, you carry heavy backpacks: your expectations or those of others are not met, bills are drowning you... There are many times when you consider throwing in the towel. In fact, at my concert 'Diario de una noche en Madrid', I was saying goodbye to the public and my colleagues without verbalizing it. But they were the ones who gave me a night to gain energy for ten years. If that concert hadn't been like that, I don't know if 'Mirlo blanco' would have existed.
Why do you care so much about the physical format of your work in the streaming era?
I myself am a lover of the physical format, so I have to give it importance. That format allows me to tell in detail nuances about the songs and the story about the creation of the album with all the people who have helped me, which are very important. Also, streaming to an independent artist isn't even good for pipes. I couldn't sustain my career with the digital format. I always say that whoever buys an album of mine in physical format is buying my ticket to the future to continue doing what I do. Otherwise, it would not be economically viable. I take great care of the physical format so that, when people receive it, they know that it is worth it.
Is there any kind of pressure for Vega to fit into the music industry as it is today?
No. There are songs that are longer and others that are shorter, but because they were born that way to me, not because I feel pressured to adapt to the new way of consuming music. I don't answer that because, even if I wanted to, I wouldn't know how to do it. With 'Mirlo blanco' I want to say that, that this is my proposal, and that it will last as long as the public that follows me wants it to last.
On his social networks, he joked about writing a book about his experience in the music industry. Will it see the light one day?
I would have to arm myself with a lot of bureaucratic paperwork to avoid lawsuits (laughs). A part of me wants to do it, but I always back off. He is a brown that I reserve for my sister, who writes very well. I think that at some point I will send her hours of audios telling her about my life so that later she, who is much more politically correct than me, can give it a shape of her.
Will Vega visit the Canary Islands at some point?
It is a pending subject that, personally, makes me very angry. I went when I was with the multinationals, and going as an independent artist is unfeasible. I know that I have a very important audience in the Canary Islands because they always write to me asking for concerts there. They tell me that it doesn't matter which island I go to, but go. With each record I try to find a way, but I don't want to present myself alone with a guitar because that's not how I conceive the presentation of my records; I would love to be able to give a great concert with my whole band. It also happens to me with the Balearic Islands. I am a tiny artist, so I always hope that one day they will call me from a festival that they organize there. When that happens, I will be happier than the canaries themselves who want to see me. I'm dying to go.
Would you compose and/or perform a song for the Benidorm Fest?
The only thing I'm going to tell you about this is that a person asked me to write a song for him to go and I said no. And this is something I haven't told anyone.