The paths of music are mysterious and those regarding of independence are even more. The infinite possibilities of creative freedom, limited resources and technological tools make the word «indie» synonymous with «unlimited». Recently I had the opportunity to interview Linda Marlen Runge, vocalist of mexican rock band Lejana, she of German nationality settled in that country and the res of musicians living in Guadalajara. Linda shared some things with us about this peculiar situation with Lejana, the challenges of the distance, «XII Bestias», Lejana’s last album, and the past band’s tour in Germany. Here a little of what she told to Canica Revista …
Aldher: Regarding your experience with your bandmates in Lejana, all of them Mexican musicians, what is your perception about the music culture in Mexico, regarding, the indie scene, the influences and the creative approach?
Linda: I’m always very impressed and happy to see how much interest the mexican people show in independent and underground non mainstream cultural stuff such as music, theater, performance art or let’s just say ART. I feel that people especially young generations have more cravings to discover real art than over here in germany but maybe i get this impression because I entered guadalajara music scene since the first day I entered the city and here in germany I had to “find a way” to meet musicians and people who wanna listen to real stuff. Which was back then kind of hard.
Independent music scene in guadalajara was shown to me right away when I came so I guess that made me feel very welcome and very motivated to know there are a lot of people who actually dig self made music and go to concerts. I love that people in México go to underground concerts of unknown bands just to go to a concert and find out something maybe no one knows already. I find this much harder here, people don’t go to shows anymore. Unless you already managed to make yourself a name in “The Biz“.
A: What do you think about the globalization in terms of music technology, distribution and consumption. This in some ways has helped Lejana’s career?
L: Yes and not at all.
We had the internet to send demos to each other and i had a laptop to record with Garageband which was easy enough for a technique idiot like me so that was good and it helped.
Also it helps to have your videos on a platform so if someone asks for it you can send a link right away and no one has to wait for a letter with dvd.
Also you can stream music but i‘d prefer people would rather buy cds and vinyls ‘cause it’s the physical sensation that I loved when I was a teenager collecting records seeing my shelves break down cause it became to many cds and cassettes.
Its cool people can order our record from all over the world.
But does it make things easier that basically EVERYONE can produce a nice sounding record in their living room? Na…. It’s the same. Its cool everyone gets the possibility to create but I strongly believe that the only way of long term success in music is being able to play your shit live to have a vibe with your bandmates and the audience no matter it you‘re in front of 5 or 15,000 people. That’s when stuff gets real and it has always been like this. So no, music technology hasn’t helped us nearly as much as me moving to mexico to be in the same room with my brother jamming, taking classes, learning to sing in tune instead of using melodyne (yikes…)playing scary shows and realizing that it’s gonna be a haaaaard and very long way if we wanna keep it real and neither music globalization or technology helps us with packing our van or gives us money to afford all this easily.
A: You’re a well known actress in Germany how do you combine also your musician career with a band like Lejana?
L: I was in Lejana before i started acting. Then, after two years of living in gdl I got casted for this famous tv show (I have never watched before to be honest). I did it cause I thought it could help us financially and also maybe help us to show our music to some more people. So I combined the show for 5 years with lejana. Every time I was supposed to relax or detox at some beach I was in industrial neighborhood in Guadalajara working with my brother Eder and the other bandgang.
When we finished the record I quit my job on the show. I still act but nothing with long term conditions cause I wanna be free for Lejana right now.
A: How Lejana fits in your life as an artist in other continent meanwhile the rest of band is Mexico, this makes difficult or easier your creative moments?
L: Since Lejana was and is my first serious band project where I actually wrote from the beginning i am so used to not be with my band all the time that I don’t know how it would feel if we had spend the last 10 years together all the time.
If Eder would sit here right now we would probably both be like “thank god we have an ocean between us otherwise we would have already killed each other”.We are like brother and sister. And we all know how annoying it is to stick around your brother together all the time. Eew 🙂
So I write in my house in germany. I have phases. Sometimes I write a lot, sometimes I don’t even know how i was ever able to write a song cause I’m all empty and stupid. Then I send it to Eder and he starts arranging stuff. And sometimes we are in the rehearsal room together and jam. Sometimes our bassist Daniel writes something and says “I got this, whatcha think?“. And sometimes Eder writes something and sends it to me and asks me to write lyrics and I try and sing aaaand… then we have a record.
A: As you know «Lejana» means literally «something far away», but the music feels «so close» to the sadness, solitude, and sometimes anger. Your lyrics try to recreate this from a personal perspective?
L: Yeah. Just yeah. They are so personal, in fact I don’t have the tiniest idea how to write non personal lyrics. I have a lot of anger in me.. or maybe more like „disappointment“ in the world and humans in general, I basically question human behavior since was like 3 years old and i analyze a lot (me and others) and I’m also sad a lot. People always told me not to overthink, now I turn 33 next month and I spent my last 3 nights with insomnia so I guess that didn’t work out BUT I have a new song idea. Ha! But anyway. Since I’m like a more melancholic kind of sensitive person that can never keep her thoughts still I found a nice way to release some of the mind crap in my lyrics. I think it was The Raconteurs singing ”I’m like a trashcan holding all the information“ and I SO felt this and I thought its a nice way to put it when people ask me how do you write. I empty the trash can on a piece of paper.
A: In the past tour in Germany how was the vibe with the public, the band, the crew?
L: Basically it was the most intense and beautiful musical experience we all ever had. It was beyond exhausting cause #noroadies #nooffday #freezinggermany but the response of the audience was totally worth it. People at the berlin show came from like 9 different countries just to see us play it was amazing.
A: How it feels touring with «XII Bestias», play it live in your country after a long process preparing the disc with the band?
L: My favorite moment on this tour was after our show in the LUX club in Hannover. We packed our stuff and (well yeah the GUYS packed our stuff,I was totally caught in the moment) I was kind of stuck (or: drinking.) at the bar talking to the older generation club owner and sound guy who have been doing that rocknroll thing for like 40 /50 years now and they liked our music so much that it felt so successful to actually be able to convince the old school rock’n roll guys who like the dire straits or the doors or golden earring with our music, THAT was the moment where I was totally hooked and convinced more than ever that we have to go on.
A: I had the opportunity to listen «XII Bestias» live here in Guadalajara and is an amazing record, a lot of Mexican culture reminiscences there but sung in English by a german woman, a very interesting cultural mixture and approach, but, from your perspective, how it felt this by the european public in the tour?
L: Well people know what they get into since the guys are from Mexico and I am not trying to hide this fact in any way, on the contrary I love this country so much so im very proud to actually be allowed to play in a mexican band so that’s what they know they‘ll get and they love it.
Germany has a big thing for Rodriguez and Tarantino films and so the music. The twangier the better, the dirtier the better. I find it always actually more risky to confront them with my cheesy girly ballads in between all the desert sound.
A: There are more plans to extend later this year the tour in other Europe countries?
L: We will figure all out in march but that is the plan for sure.
A: … And America?
L: I SO hope that. I wanna play south america festivals I have heard they are the best. Also I wanna see as much of middle and South America as possible.
A: So, Finally… By now, after years working with the band, a new disc, touring together, do you feel already Mexico as your second home?
I always had trouble with the term “home“ but if I dare to use it I would put it closer in a sentence more to Mexico than to any other place on earth.
Interview by: Aldher Ruelas