After years of performing in bands all over the UK, Spain’s best kept secret, Carlos Gris, has finally branched out on his own, to release solo music in his native language.
His sound is perfect for indie-pop lovers who want to add a bit of Spanish flair to their playlists.
The first track from Gris’ upcoming EP Flotante has already been noticed by some of the biggest stations in Spain and with his second track ‘Un Rato Largo’ just released today, Carlos is set to explode onto the scene this year.
Despite getting ready for his most ambitious project to date, the talented singer-songwriter found the time to sit down and give me a direct insight into his creative process, growing up as a ‘bit of a weird kid’ and how he finds beauty in the most unexpected of places.
Let’s start from the beginning…What was life like growing up?
Woah okay…From the beginning? Ok, so I was a very sporty adolescent. I played basketball semi-professionally, and that was a big part of my life. When my friends and I were all turning 15/16 they all started going out and I couldn’t do that because I was training. I quit basketball when I was around 16 — I just felt like I got as far as I could with it and I didn’t want to do it professionally, so I turned to music and started playing in bands during high school, I was terrible but that was the start.
I was a bit of a weird kid in high school, not super weird…but just like a bit ‘off’. I wore all these bright colours, and I got picked on a little bit, so that was hard to navigate but I would always say to myself that they are just boring and I am not!
It’s funny because I reconnected with some of the guys that used to tease me and I look at their lives and think, my life is a bit cooler than yours. It was a bit weird at first when I started to pursue music, because no one in my family had done that before, but my family is great and growing up in Madrid was fun.
My dad was obsessed with the idea of my sister and I learning English, so we would go to extra classes, and I spent time in America. When I moved to England I wanted to surround myself with English people, not seclude myself with Spanish people. Which was fine but it took me a while to really integrate myself because of all the slang!
What made you want to pursue music as a career?
I wish I had a cool story for you but I think it was by pure chance. During university one of my bands started to do well and got gigs every couple of weeks. This helped me realise I had chosen the wrong degree [finance], but when you are 17/18 you have no clue, so you just go for whatever you think will give you a career.
When my degree was finishing, I had a moment where I was like, I don’t want to do this as my career so I looked into other options for a degree.
Then one day I met this guy who had studied Music in England. So I came to England for two years initially to do a music related course and I have been here for six years currently.
How has your music evolved from your first experience with a band etc. to where it is now?
It has been a big journey! In Spain I was heavily influenced by Spanish bands. I had many friends who listened to English music but I just related more to Spanish Music. I would only write Spanish songs.
But when I moved to England I fell in love with the scene over here and all the indie/punk bands that there are. So I guess now I’m a mixture of all my Spanish background and all the punk rock/indie bands that I have discovered since moving over here.
Tell us about the process of creating ‘Flotante’? Where did you get the inspiration from?
It is a very important song for me, I have the title tattooed on my arm! I wrote it in about December 2018. But at this point I was only performing songs in English, even though I never stopped writing songs in Spanish, because that just came naturally to me.
So I was writing these songs but I had no clue what I was going to do with them. So one day I was reading this book by a Japanese artist and it was called an Artist From The Floating World, in English. So I was getting really inspired by the idea of the floating worlds, so I wrote this song ‘Flotante’, and I just felt like this one couldn’t just be hidden away in a drawer.
How has the reception been so far for the new single?
It has been mad! So many people have messaged me about it, people I haven’t heard from in years. It has been noticed by some really big radio stations. It was so overwhelming but in a good way!
Did you have any hopes or expectations for your music while you were creating it?
I had no real expectations. Which is nice because I have a really cool team who helped me with this, but I just did it for the art and fun, without any real expectations. It is such a personal project for me and so much fun. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want it to go somewhere but that wasn’t the aim for this.
How does ‘Flotante’ fit into the EP?
It is the title track and the one that started it all, so it made sense to call the EP that as well. I wouldn’t say this was the strongest track, but it was the one that has given me the strength to start releasing my music.
What track are you most excited for people to hear?
It is actually the next song that I am going to release, ‘Un Rato Largo’. It is the one I want people to enjoy the most. It is like a sad dance. So a very dance-y festival vibe track, but the lyrics are really sad.
I just love that idea, I find myself having a sad boogie quite often and it is a very relatable metaphor of being happy on the outside but sad on the inside.
How would you say you have grown since recording the music for your upcoming EP?
I think I have come full circle. I went on this journey whilst creating the EP and now I feel like I am in a similar place but the difference is that I know all the things that led me here, so I am not going back there anymore.
If you were to create a new project today, what major differences would there be?
I would love to get more people involved. It is hard asking for collaborations with other artists/creatives when you haven’t got anything out. Also Covid was happening which made it more difficult, but expanding the creative team is something I would love to do.
You are also a part of a band, Simple Fiction, how different does it feel releasing a solo project as opposed to a band project?
I prefer to release as a part of a band, it is just less weight to carry. When ‘Flotante’ came out I was in Madrid and the song came out at midnight but it was just like, ‘Okay, great’ but when you are in a band you get to share the excitement and build up to the release together.
Do you see yourself actively creating and performing music in a band and as a soloist?
For now I want to do both, Mainly because one of my favourite things is to perform and I am not currently in a place with my solo career where I can perform often. Especially living in the UK when my solo music is Spanish, it just makes it more difficult to get regular gigs right away!
Where do you hope your music career takes you?
I have learnt not to expect anything from my career, it is so easy to lose perspective of how far you have come and what you have achieved, if you are always having such high expectations. I have dreams but I am trying to focus on what is happening now.
I think we too often confuse dreams with expectations, I have many dreams but I don’t expect all of them to come true, but if even one that would be great!
So yeah, more dreams and less expectations!
Do you have any plans to release music in English?
I haven’t got any plans for it but I am not against it. Writing in English is not something that comes naturally to me, unless it is with a band. If I want to express myself I would usually do it in Spanish. As a soloist, I would only want to do what is true to me and at the moment that isn’t writing songs in English.
Do you have any solo gigs lined up?
Not yet, maybe when the EP drops It would be nice to do a little gig in Madrid, but I am not dying to gig with my solo stuff, I am okay with waiting for the right opportunity.
Do you plan on exploring any other creative avenues?
Yes! I am currently writing a novel! I am not sure what it is about, but I am half way through it! I just love writing and lyrics, so this just makes sense to me to also pursue.
What inspires you?
I think the most beautiful things are in the regular day to day life situations. I am obsessed with the idea of finding beauty in situations where you wouldn’t expect. It is a very Spanish thing, I guess.
When you talk about love, you can talk about the big things, but everyone talks about that and people only really relate to their own ‘big things’ anyway.
But when you talk about the little things, like for example, you’ve left something in my bed or when you’re making out with somebody in a car, and then their windows misty etc., people are more likely to relate, because they are things that happen every day which we don’t really notice how beautiful they are. I just love all the little things that hold so much hidden beauty.
The difficulty with that is you actually need to go and find it.
Lastly, what is some advice you would give to anyone out there who is not quite where they want to be in life yet?
Wow, I don’t even know if I am where I want to be in life! Every time I get asked a question like this I think back to what someone once told me…’Where ever you want to go, it does not exist, because you are not there yet’. The finish line doesn’t exist, so why worry about something that doesn’t exist? Focus on right now and what you can do to make yourself happy.
‘Flotante’ and ‘Un Rato Largo’ are out now on all major platforms and the full EP is out soon. Follow @soy.carlosgris for new releases and updates.