Still Waters Run Deep: Clash Meets Belako

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Belako’s tide is coming in. Literally. When Clash trots down to the banks of the Thames we’ve got an engagement to keep – the band have decided to launch their new album ‘Sigo Rigando’ with a cruise along the river, playing live to a tiny audience of lucky fans. As it transpires, it’s the hottest gig in town – a force to be reckoned with in their native Spain, Belako stun with their hot-wired prowess, blending fan favourite cuts with first outings for their new material.

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It’s all a long way from their origins in the town of Mungia, near Bilbao. Chatting to singer Cristina Lizarranga and drummer Lander Zalakain before the show, both are beaming with excitement. The release of ‘Sigo Rigando’ – the title translates as ‘still waters’ – is mere hours ahead of them, and they can’t wait to share the material.

“Excitement. Confidence!” Lander says. “We can’t wait for people to hear the new songs. People need to know the words… so they can sing them back to us!”

Stylistically, Belako have aimed for a blend, infusing their bold, indie-rooted songwriting with deft experimental elements. Cristina explains: “On our early albums, we were really just making music that we wanted to listen to. Then our third one, we went quite experimental. On our fourth album, we wanted to capture our live sound – which was ironic, as it came out during the pandemic! This one is the perfect blend of our third and fourth albums, I think.”

“Our main aim is not to get bored,” she adds. “That’s why everything we do is so fluid.”

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Hightailing it to a small rural town in Spain, Belako opted to use specific methods during their ultra-focussed studio sessions. Recorded directly to tape, ‘Sigo Rigando’ captures their concert prowess, while adding a certain degree of warmth. Lander says: “It means every take is important… that’s what gives it a live energy.”

“It was relaxed, I think everyone enjoyed it!” the singer adds. “I don’t want to spend hours in the studio. I have a limited capacity to focus… so I have to take a break, read a book, or start drawing. It’s nice, though – the studio is in this small country town.”

With the waves gently rocking us back and forth, Clash can certainly envisage the relaxation of the studio process. As a band, Belako are totally open to influences – there’s a strong visual identity in their songwriting, a world-building that goes beyond finding the right riff. Cristina continues: “We met in Fine Arts, so there’s always stimuli around. Lots of creative things going on. And there’s always a visual quality to our music. We’re romantics – we like to think of albums as going on a journey.”

Discussing the material, Lander picks out ‘Tangerine’ and Saguzarren Kanta’ as favourites – both have incredibly complex time signatures, which keens the drummer on his toes. “We play live a lot; it is what we like about this job!”

Natural outsiders, the new album finds Belako working defiantly in their own lane. “We always say that we feel too pop for punk, too punk for the mainstream. We are kind of in no-place, limbo, in the land of nowhere…”

Set to return to Central and South America this year, the band’s famously frenetic work ethic shows no signs of letting up. It helps them focus creatively, distilling Belako into a new form. “We want to spread what we are now,” Cristina insists. “This is Belako 2023, this album. The previous ones they were great, but they talk about the previous Belako.”

Asked to sum up what she wants the album to become, the singer finishes: “I hope it becomes a kind of comfort album, but also an escape.”

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‘Sigo Regando’ is out now.