Whether you’re knee deep in a muddy South London field or sweltering through mediterranean humidity, festivals always guarantee a good time. But when it’s golden hour, the Spanish sun is melting into the coastline and you’re about to trade poolside beers for a back-to-back show of international artists, you can’t help but think Primavera Sound does it better.
Last week, Trippin joined thousands from all over the world at its Parc del Fórum festival site – located a welcome few miles away from the frantic tourism of Barcelona - for six days of music, art and cultural exploration.
With repurposed amphitheatre stages ensuring their sound was as intoxicating as the heat, the 50/50 gender split lineup featured a collection of the most talked about names this year – including J. Balvin, Rosalia, Solange, FKA Twigs, slowthai and James Blake. Highlights also included sets from long-time rap legend Nas and neo-soul queen Erykah Badu.
Out there we bumped into Erykah Badu and Chicano artist Cuco before catching up with local Spanish R&B singer Aleesha, all of who were performing at the festival.
"On the first night out we went to this party that Erykah was DJing at. It was moving being in her presence, because she’s very influential to my life in terms of music. After we left the party we just saw her outside and my friend said “hey Miss Badu, can we take your portrait? I couldn’t even process what was happening - I had 20 seconds to take some photos and work some magic. It was like wow." - Trippin Photographer, Danika Lawerence @sirius.film
On Friday afternoon of the festival we sat down with Cuco, the Chicano producer, singer and multi-instrumentalist hailing from Hawthorne, CA. He's the type of artist who just wants to make music he would listen to on his own, incorporating hip-hop beats, electric guitar solos and bedroom indie pop with his Spanglish lyrics.
He's just finished a press conference and we're sitting at the top of a sky scrapper which overlooks the city and the festival down below. Calm and extremely chilled out, Cuco's energy and aura are surprisingly grounded for a 19 year old touring the world with his friends. We sit down for a few moments and chat about what it's like performing.
What's it like to be performing Primavera?
I had never been to a festival before I started touring because I couldn’t afford it. Now I’m on all these stages at all these festivals and it’s sick.
The atmosphere you get performing at festivals varies. Each stage will have a different energy so the smaller it is the more intimate I can get. Playing here at big stage though is crazy because you have all these people who want to just listen to you.
We caught up with local Spanish R&B artist, Aleesha, who also spoke about what performing at Primavera means for her. Find out about her creative process, her favourites in Barcelona's music scene and how travel has influenced her music.
How would you describe your sound?
I feel like I am still evolving - personally and musically. I'm still finding out what I wanna do but my ideas are clear enough to know that I don’t need others to push me in a certain direction. I’ve only been singing Spanish lately too which is something I used to hate it, but now I’ve adopted it added a little spin to it.
Talk to us about choosing to live in Barcelona?
I really wanted to go to London, because music-wise I would say that I fit in there a bit more. I ended going Barcelona because it was closer to home, but in the beginning I really felt out of place. I didn’t belong and my music was not in line with those in the city - I felt like shit. Something then ticked in me and I just wanted to be me. There was no reason to fit in and suddenly people really started to pay attention when I embraced myself wholly. It ended up working well.
Who are your favourite Spanish artists right now?
I like Bad Gyal, Rosalia and Sticky M.A.
Last year you spoke of hoping to be a part of the Primavera line-up and now you’re in it! How does it feel?
It’s great. I don’t think too much has changed with me, but at the same time I know A LOT has. I didn’t even know what Primavera was until my friends were talking about buying tickets last year. I was crying because everyone was going, but I just couldn’t afford it. Suddenly I got an invite for some reason and the whole time there, I was just hyping myself up to perform Primavera 2019. Now I’m here, and it’s just great.
How has travel influenced your music?
I’ve always said that if I wasn't singing that I would be a backpacker. I get inspired everywhere I go. I never sang in Spanish until I went to Atlanta, which makes no sense whatsoever. Why would I have to travel out of Spain to sing my first ever track in Spanish? Every single place I’ve travelled to gives me a certain creativity too. I always leave with a track.
Favourite place music has taken you and why?
I went to Miami for Desigual Project and I ended up connecting so well with that place. It felt like Spain, but bigger.
What’s coming up for Aleesha?
Getting ready to start the music videos for my EP 19:19. There are a couple cool features coming out too and catch me performing at Sonar fest next month.