Interview: O’Spada, Swedish Funk Group With One Too Many Hits.
by Daniel Haim
It was not enough to just feature O’Spada’s exclusive tracks. I know this band will be shaking the world. Yes, for sure. And I’m here to make sure that you hear her brilliant voice. I had to make sure you all of you acknowledge this funk and of course I had to make sure you all get addicted to O’Spada funk! (consider yourself warned).
O’Spada just knows how to handle beats properly; They zig, where others zag. They are fairly new in the music biz as they were formed back in 2006 by a group of five with a varied music background; they frame a clash bounded by soul, funk, pop and a sprinkle of some upbeat love. They quickly attained a fame by their powerful live performances which resulted with them getting a record deal with the great Despotz Records.
I recently sat down for an interview with Julia Spada, the woman behind all of this (there’s always a woman behind every good thing — am I right or am I right?) If you’ve missed the exclusive tracks that we had featured in the previous posts click here to listen to NightWave’s Sunday Morning Remix and NightWaves Midnight Fire Remix.
Daniel: First things first.. O’Spada.. Cool name, what’s the story behind it?
Julia: I’m of Italian origin and my last name is Spada. A few days before our first concert, we were in a hurry to print posters, and we really didn’t know what to call ourselves. That concert was supposed to be my solo concert, and I had asked my favorite musicians to play with me. I immediately got a feeling it could be the beginning of a great band, so I suggested we shouln’t write my name on the posters, but come up with a band name that sounded a bit like me, but different. For some reason, we went with O’Spada.
Daniel: How did all of you guys meet? When, where did this begin!?
Julia: Four of us met when we studied jazz and improvisation together. After one year, our first keyboard player Erik (who is actually a part of Krazy Fiesta, the guys who remixed Ten Strikes) left the group. A mutual friend recommended Christopher, and we immediately loved his mad keyboard skills.
Daniel: I understand most of you come from a different music background. Is that true? What’s that all about?
Julia: In part, that’s true. I started listening to soul music by the age of eleven, bought a vinyl player at thirteen, and started collectng old funk and soul records. In the meantime, I started writing songs, but didn’t dare to perform them until three years ago, with O’Spada. Samuel was raised listening to jazz and classical music, but got into hardcore and punk in his teens. Karl started playing electric guitar mainly because he thought the instrument looked cool, and formed a Metallica cover band at thirteen. So yes, we come from different backgrounds, but we share the same musical approach. We like the technical aspect of playing. That’s probably the main reason we were all drawn to playing jazz. Another reason is the improvising, as well as the complexity of the harmonies and rhythm. Before O’Spada, we sat around and practiced, focusing on improving our skills, but this is our way of finally taking it to the stage. We love the way good pop music can speak immediately to the listener.
Daniel: What inspires you to make this funky, soulful music? Who are your musical inspirations?
Julia: Most of my inspiration comes from my boring teenage years, spent locked up in my room listening to masters like Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Prince, Michael Jackson and the P-funk crew. The rest of O’Spada got into soul either through neo soul stars like D’Angelo or hip hop legends like the Wu Tang Clan. But we have other influences too. For example, one of Johan’s favorite bands is Queens of the Stone Age, and we often start rehearsal by jamming on Joshua Redman’s Jazz Crimes.
Daniel: Who writes the lyrics, who writes the music?
Julia: So far, I’ve been writing the lyrics and the melodies to all of our songs. But more and more often, someone else comes up with the harmonies or a beat to have as a starting point. Either way, we always arrange it together the whole band, so everybody contributes to the final sound.
Daniel: Ten Strikes… which I’ve been singing for days now.. Loving the lyrics.. Was it written for someone? What’s the story behind it?
Julia: In my opinion, lyrics don’t have to be true, they have to be interesting and consistent. Most lyrics I write are based on a feeling I can relate to, or have heard other people experiencing. But in those cases, I always modifiy them to make a good story. Ten Strikes was a bit of a turning point for me. Before, my lyrics were self experienced in some way. But by this time, I was happily in love, and at peace with my life, so I didn’t get much inspiration for good lyrics (I felt I couldn’t write another sugary love anthem). So one day, I said to my boyfriend: “baby, I’m running out of material, I’m gonna have to start making things up, and I’ve got a great idea for a song. It’s about cheating, but it’s not real.” And he hates boring lyrics, so he liked it.
Daniel: So many versions. Which one is your favorite?
Julia: We’ve heard many great remixes, but our favorite ones are still the ones Krazy Fiesta and Suck Shaft made for us.
Daniel: I’ve watched the YouTube live videos, amazed to see that you manage to deliver the same exact quality you’ve got an amazing voice! When did you realize that music was your true calling?
Julia: Thank you! We’ve all spent most part of the last decade playing, so I guess all of us has been into the idea for quite a long time. Personally, I started dreaming for real when I started writing songs, when I was eleven. I started singing more and more, and after a while, I had the feeling I was getting quite good at it, but I didn’t really know, because I didn’t dare to sing in front of others until I was eighteen. I also took violin lessons for fourteen years, and for some periods, I wanted to become a proffessional violin player.
Daniel: I’m definitely coming to your shows. Tell me, what songs to you perform more frequently?
Julia: Our top-hits include Time, Ten Strikes, Enemy, Pay Off, W.I.T.H? and Let Go. All of them will be on the album.
Daniel: You’re signed with Despotz Records, they’re really awesome! What drew you to sign with the label and how has it been?
Julia: Despotz Records found us by a coincidence when we handed a demo to Carl-Marcus to get a gig on a club he arranged. O’Spada didn’t get the gig, but we ended up with a record deal. We got a good feeling when we met with them, and we were right, they really are awesome. Without them, we might still have been that desperate demo-band that couldn’t get gigs
Daniel: What part of the music life do you like and what part do you love?
Julia: We like rehearsing, putting songs together. We like recording our songs — making the album was great fun. But unquestionably, what we love most is playing live. Nothing beats the rush of making a great gig.
Daniel: When are you coming to take over NYC, LA, any plans to come to London anytime soon?
Julia: We are dying to go to US, so we’re hoping to raise the budget to go there sometime next year. Right now, we’re extremely excited about the London trip we’ll be making next week. Monocle invited us over to play at their christmas party, and we took the oppurtunity to fit in a few other gigs as well. We’ll be playing at Pure Groove Festiv-Al and Cargo 18th December, and Bangers and Mash 19th. Visit our Mypace for details.
Daniel: Nooooo!! I’m leaving back to NYC on Tuesday. I’m going to miss it! AAaaaaa!! What are your hopes for 2010, what are the plans for the New Years?
Julia: We have great hopes for 2010. We have been saving our best songs for then, and hope the world will love our album. We also hope we will go on tour. And finally, it would be nice if Sweden found out about us. On New Years Eve, we will be playing on a big party in Stockholm.