Despite an acclaimed debut album and successful live show at Primavera, John Talabot isn't ready for the hedonism of stardom, he tells
THERE’S ALWAYS AN element of pressure when a band plays live for the first time as they wonder how their songs will work in front of an audience. Every possible thing that could go wrong crosses the mind. Thankfully for most, there is little in the way of expectation to deal with. John Talabot, however, had a mountain of that to climb as well, with his debut album, fin, being one of the year’s most lauded releases.
In the end, opening his live performance account at Primavera Sound in his home town of Barcelona was worth the effort – the show was a complete success, taking place in front of thousands of ecstatic fans. The contrast between festival stages and the heaving, sweaty clubs Talabot is more familiar with as a DJ is not lost on the Catalan native. He finds something to enjoy in both environments.
“For a DJ set I prefer clubs, having people close to me,” he says. “I really enjoy small clubs but sometimes I understand that promoters have to move to bigger rooms.
“At the moment the live shows are only booked for festivals because it was a good way to get the training for small clubs where you have people around you and a longer slot. So festivals are a good way that people can see you, you can make a bigger live show and try to get people into my music. Later, you can do small venues and people will come, too.”
Though Talabot’s profile has increased massively in the past year, little has changed on a day-to-day level. While his weekends are spent playing to bigger and bigger crowds, Monday to Friday is much the same as ever, including working with the Barcelona record label he helped found, Hivern Discs. This, he says, is part of a conscious effort not to get too sucked into the hedonism.
“I don’t want to go inside the DJ lifestyle, having all the week resting and playing the weekend,” he says. “I feel like I have enough energy to work during the week. I arrive home on Sunday night after playing two or three gigs and go back to work on Monday, trying to put music out on the label . . . I don’t want to get used to having good money on the weekends and that’s it because you don’t know when it will be finished. So I prefer to try to keep things going in whatever way I can.”
And Barcelona, it seems, is the place to do it. Though the city has a long cultural history, it is somewhat devoid of a definitive club music identity, with the vague umbrella term “Balearic” on loan from the Ibiza scene.
While this might make the Catalan capital difficult to pin down for lazy journalists, it made for a vibrant and varied musical environment for the young Talabot.