We get to hear such a wonderful Spanish melody in INTERCONTINEN7AL‘s newest work, “Puerto Aisen“. The flamenco guitar style has always captivated me, and it sounds appealing every time I listen to it. Andrasta‘s stunning vocal performance will have you riveted to the music until the very last second. The richness of her vocals also contributed to the natural mix of the orchestration. Furthermore, the song is really well-written, smoothly transporting us to Chilean musical terrain. The magnificent interlude pieces are just extraordinary. Another instrument that will give you chills is the saxophone. The song has a lot of musical influences, but they all sound good together and don’t break up the flow.
The song’s special element is the arrangement. In one single tune, there are so many things going on, yet the brilliance is that they never feel cluttered or complicated. The placement of each instrument was quite precise. Every layer, whether it’s the guitars, the string arrangements, the saxophone, or just the solo violin, is examined in great detail and given the room to draw you into its universe. Another thing about the structure is that it’s quite seamless, and the transitions between parts seem very organic, never making you feel the present of the structure. The flow between the voices and between the instruments is so fluid that it never appears like a conscious effort when it transitions to the music portions. I hope the song appealed to a wide range of listeners throughout the world.
INTERCONTINEN7AL also was able to briefly talk to us about the piece, and Matt and Andrasta gladly shared their experiences working on it.
1. I’m keen to understand your frame of mind at the moment you conceived the idea, as well as if the piece was written in one sitting or took some time to develop into the shape it is now?
Matt: The song “Puerto Aisen” originated from a beautiful instrumental piano and guitar line that Egypt’s Jukerok had come up with back in August of 2020. The original clip published in BandLab was less than a minute in length, so I extended the song by copying portions of his track to make room for other instrumentation, and once UK’s Andrasta came up with those gorgeous lyrics and laid down her vocals we all knew we had something special! Many of our songs on this album originated in this format, where they were rough draft song ideas that were wide open for band members to contribute to, so as musicians started to edit the song and add ideas we realized we may be able to organically create a song with music recorded on all 7 continents. Over the coming months there were new elements brought to the track including USA’s Dirty D (on saxophone) and Jamie Miller (on cajon), Thailand’s Nerse’s violin, and the egg shaker that was recorded by Stijn in Antarctica!
Andrasta: I came into the song at a very early stage when it was a very stripped back instrumental and there was this magical guitar riff that Jukerok had laid down that sparked everything – it was one of those moments songwriters dream about where you can just hear the words and vocal melody in your mind as the music plays for the first time. The whole song took about 15 minutes to write. I spent time in Puerto Aisen in Chile as a child and fell in love with it. The lyrics are a reflection of that love.
2. I was very amazed with your vocal performance; would you mind sharing how you prepared for the vocal sessions?
Andrasta: Thank you, that’s very kind. I only did two vocal sessions for this song. The first was recorded on my phone just to get the melody down, and the second one I recorded with my Rode NT1-A mic and Behringer UMC202HD interface. Between the two sessions, I practiced the song at least a hundred times before being 100% happy with it. Maybe it’s my background in acting speaking, but you only get one shot on stage so that’s how I treat recording. If you’re well-practiced it becomes muscle memory and gives you room to play, to live in it.
3. The arrangement has a lot of musical depth; how was it working with so many different artists, and what was your approach to the instrumentation?
Matt: It was a very rewarding experience for me personally. Many of the musicians I had previously worked with on our first record, so it was wonderful to revisit that space of collaborating with folks like Dirty D, Robert James Shoveller from Australia, and Nereo from South America. The band newcomers Jukerok and Andrasta, who were the primary songwriters on the track, really brought a new energy to this band and the album with the Latin/Middle Eastern hybrid that is “Puerto Aisen”. I also enjoyed coordinating with Michael Ahart aka “Us and the Otters” from the US who was the producer/mixing and mastering engineer for the song, he had terrific ideas on how to add some percussion and flamenco style guitar (provided by Nerse) to really lock in the Latin flavor of the song.
4. Would you like to share some of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences you had while recording the piece?
Matt: I was able to record some acoustic guitar in the background on the verses and chorus using my Focusrite and AXE I/O interfaces, to fill out the track a bit. I did also suggest an idea for the song which ended up being the bridge in the final version of the song, and I was very humbled that Jukerok was open to experimenting with his song idea and letting me provide a little section to connect onto his composition. It was fantastic to see what Dirty D, Nerse, and Andrasta did on top of the chord progression that I came up with for that section. It’s one of the most exciting things as a musician to create an idea and then see these incredibly talented musicians just run with it and take it to an atmospheric level.
Andrasta: There was this beautiful moment when I was recording the vocals where I got so caught up in the music it was just a complete surrender, that was a really fun experience. The result of that was the melismatic vocals that you hear in the background of the song. The style of melisma I used was heavily influenced by the Maqam system rather than the westernised style you often hear in pop music. You can hear it a lot in Tarab artists like Oum Kalthoum and Sabah Fakhri. I grew up with lots of friends from North African and East Meditteranean cultures who exposed me to their music, and with the Middle Eastern influences in this song, adding this style of singing really felt like bringing it full circle.
5. Is there anything you’d like to mention to the listeners in particular?
Matt: I personally just want to say thank you for taking the time to listen to this very special and unique track, as it’s only the second song in history to have recorded instrumentation from all 7 continents (the other song being “Manor Hill”, the closer from our self-titled debut album). We also hope that you consider donating to the International Justice Mission (our charity of choice for this record), and aid in the battle to fight human trafficking.
Andrasta: Google ‘Puerto Aisen/Aysen, Chile’. Look at the mountains, the caves, the waterfalls, the people. My lyrics are a love letter to that beautiful city, I hope you can see why. Tweet/Instagram me @AndrastaMusic – I’d love to know what you think. Like Matt mentioned, the money raised from the streams and sales of this song and the Intercontinen7al Vol.2 album will go to the International Justice Mission, they do amazing work to help victims of human trafficking and educate people to prevent human trafficking in the first place. If you can afford to donate to them, please do, but either way, we hope you enjoy the music. Thank you!
Enjoy Listening to “Puerto Aisen” by INTERCONTINEN7AL on Spotify!