Blanco Palamera: the duo that defines the new Spanish pop | Culture

“With Jimi Hendrix, electricity began to be part of music,” the writer Harry Shapiro told this newspaper in 2020 about the rock myth, who before he died (at the age of 27) had time to break many schemes. “Fucking Jimi Hendrix was a hangman, he did what came from within, without limits, that always attracted us,” says Manu Blanco (Santiago de Compostela, 1997), guitar and voice of the Galician duo Blanco Palamera, sitting in front of a cup of tea at Café Pavón in Madrid. Beside him, the other 50% of the group, Xoán Domínguez (Santiago de Compostela, 1997), drums and choirs, nods. Manu turns and says: “I remember that after we met we went to my grandmother’s house and I played the Hendrix song for you. Machine Gun; you looked at me amazed and you said to me: ‘But what is this?

The two laugh remembering that moment of discovery, they were 14 years old and lived in Santiago de Compostela, a city where two kids crazy about music and even more interested in doing something new with it were predestined to meet. Manu and Xoán are now 24, they are like brothers and have not been separated since. They have just released the second album by Blanco Palamera, privacy (Raso Estudio, 2022), a fusion of genres such as funkythe bolero or the R&B which makes them exponents of what is known as new pop. “Blanco is our whole life, what we think about from the moment we wake up until we go to bed,” says Domínguez, who may be the more timid of the two, but at the same time the more daring. Although both collaborate with other bands and recently even produce other musicians, they actually live by and for Blanco, a very personal project with which they try to break their own schemes and challenge themselves. In the words of Blanco, cerebral and accurate: “People always try to tell us what we do and in the end I think it is not understood that we make music as we listen to it, guided by a mood [un estado de ánimo]; I don’t know what sense it makes today to always do the same thing”.

Installed in Madrid for six years, in 2019 they released the first album by Blanco Palamera —promises (Raso Estudio)—and began 2020 on tour for five weeks in America, with his band and also accompanying Marem Ladson and Zuaraz in some concerts. In March, with one foot of Manu on Texan soil, the return was rushed due to the pandemic with Santiago de Compostela as the destination. “While in Mexico it started to get mixed up —recalls Xoán—, we saw the apocalypse in Spain ten hours later”. In his mind, a second job for Blanco was not yet planned, but everything that happened afterwards led them down another path. “We don’t like to think about privacy like a confinement album, but it did influence us a lot, it made us face things that we really wanted to talk about and put them in front of us, it was the moment, ”says Manu. Faced with the evidence that they had their second album in hand, they had to face a way of working for which no one was prepared at the time. “promises We worked on it locked in a room, but at least we were together. This time we were confined and also separated, ”he adds.

From these rare days, working remotely, they also keep beautiful memories, like when Manu sent Xoán the first interpretation of Quarrel (seventh topic of privacy): “I remember listening to him in bed and sending him a photo of him super excited,” says the drummer. Although due to circumstances most of the songs did not come out while they were playing together, when they were able to meet again in a studio and record the most organic parts, the sensations were worth it. Shortly after, already in Madrid, they entered the Jaén Building studio that they now share with Senra and Anxo Ferreira (Novedades Carminha): “We feel that we are living a dream by having a space like this in Madrid to play and record, a place thanks to the that we were able to continue working on the album”.

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The two faces of Blanco Palamera coincide in describing themselves as different but necessary. “It’s just that if we were both the same it would be terrible, nothing would come of it,” jokes (or not) Xoán. Each one became a musician on his own path: Xoán, through classical musical training, with the drive to play the drums always guiding him; Manu, a self-taught guitar player, studied sound and was especially interested in what a computer could contribute to his way of understanding music. They also face Blanco Palamera in very different ways. While Xoán feels more relaxed and confident than at concerts with his other bands, Manu admits that the responsibility of making the cut with his own project makes him feel naked: “I get more nervous at any concert with Blanco than at one with Sen. Senra at the WiZink”.

They have other things in common, such as a creative maturity that keeps them balanced in an industry inclined towards media hymns and noise: “We like to work with space, find moments of calm. In the end, silence is also music and it is important to embrace it”, admits Xoán. They believe in their essence as something unbreakable that will not disappear even if tomorrow they decide to change their rhythm, but what is most surprising about them is their seamless plan to endure, in the words of Manu: “For us, the maximum expression of a song is the one produced , is the one we want to represent us in ten years. At the same time, we want to be able to reinterpret the songs in each live show so that they are new each time, so that they are always alive”.

What do Xoán and Manu listen to (Blanco Palamera)

Xoán recommends the versions of classic Latin American songs from the album flower, signed by the Puerto Rican-Belgian singer-songwriter Gabriel Ríos, and says he is rediscovering the different facets of John Coltrane. Manu, who has recently started DJing, is itching these days more in the jungle and the techno and tells us about the multicultural scene in London, the rapper Shygirl, among others.

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