BAMBINO KORESH’S LETICIA NISCHANG TAKES US THROUGH THE INSPIRATIONS FOR THEIR SONGS AND THE EXCITEMENT OF RELEASING A DEBUT ALBUM.
How did the band first form and where does the name Bambino Koresh come from?
Since Tom and I got together back in 2002 we always wanted to have a band to play the songs we started to write. We first thought of the name back then, while we were touring in Spain with our band Sneeze with our best friend Nic Dalton. It has to do with David Koresh only because it was a story that shocked us. I didn’t know too much about it til I met Tom who later showed me docos and other info about it. I just couldn’t believe how a government can turn against their own people and just kill them because they don’t share the the same views. I’ve never been to the US but it always looked like it must be a pretty scary place to live. The word Bambino is a soft, rounded word and Koresh is harsh. Plus they sound good together.
I moved to Australia in 2003 and I started playing with Sneeze again and later on with The Givegoods, I’ve even played some casual lead guitar with Smudge but I always kept on writing my own stuff which we finally got to play together with our good friend Sarah McEwan.
Up And Left – tell me why you chose that as the title…
It was Tom’s idea. He’s really clever and he thought of that. Up and Left sounds like directions, but also kind of like a “Dear John” letter. The idea of “she just took off”: I really liked it because that’s kinda what I did when I moved over here. So I loved it from the beginning and later on our friend Ev (Dando) also said it’s where your heart is: up and left. I love that too.
Your guitar playing really stands out on the album. What are some of your influences as a guitarist?
Well, thank you. My number one influence is Neil Young. Since I first heard his music when I was a teenager I’ve been very obsessed with it. It’s not just his guitar playing but I love everything he does. Maybe it’s the way he has of keeping it simple but deep at the same time. It has had a profound impact on me and my playing.
I also love The Velvet Underground, The Modern Lovers, Creedence Clearwater Revival & Led Zeppelin.I adore Teenage Fanclub and Juliana Hatfield but I’m pretty sure they love the same bands as I do.
Do your Argentinian/Spanish origins play a part in the music you write?
Of course! It plays a part on everything I do! I can’t help it. I was born in Argentina but I moved to Spain when I was 7 yrs old. I first moved to Lanzarote, Canary Islands and then to Barcelona. I have songs in Spanish but I’m keeping them for the next records. I’m extremely close to my family and I talk to them almost daily. I love reflecting on how languages and culture make people think differently. I consider myself pretty lucky to have a foot on each side, per se. I’m a very energetic and happy person but I also reminisce a lot and I get homesick very easily – both very spanish/argentinian aspects. But in either of those countries if you call yourself a “guitarist” you have to be shit hot. So I try to stay away from it, I wouldn’t call myself a guitarist.
What is it about playing as a trio that best suits the music of Bambino Koresh?
I’ve played in many bands with many members and I just LOVE playing as a trio. It’s very down to basics and it gives us the space we each need. Sarah’s drumming is very personal and it really suits my songs, I love it. Tom has really impressed me with his bass skills!!! I believe he’s the core of our band and his bass lines are so beautiful and ingenious. Being the only guitarist makes me work harder and I love the challenge. Plus I like the fact that as a three piece we need to be very tight. Besides everything being very easy to organize.
Did You write the songs specifically for this album or are they from different songwriting periods?
I’ve been wanting to make this album for a while now. Some songs are older than others but basically we just picked the ones that we thought would sound the best together. Whilst being different, somehow they really suit each other.
Tell me about the recording of the album, was it an easy experience, did the songs come out as you expected them to?
Recording this album was really easy and quick. We knew the songs very well so altogether it took 4 days. We recorded it at Zen Studios in St. Peters, Sydney with Geoff Lee. He’s very laid back just like us and we find we work well together. We invited our very talented friends Jason Walker and Cameron Bruce and they made the album way more grand and beautiful. Jason added a very Flying Burrito Brothers flavour to it that I just can’t get enough of. Cameron played some amazing keyboards and other magnificent sounds. They are real professionals and I feel truly honoured that they’ve played on our record. Tom and I produced the record and then we got our good friend Casey Rice to master it in Melbourne. He did an incredible job. So yes, the songs came out wonderfully and I’m very happy with it.
Are there specific lyrical ideas and themes at the core of the album?
Well the main thing is these songs have all being written since I got together with Tom and moved to Australia. So I’m guessing love and immigration are always present there. Feelings of nostalgia and homesickness also. And the isolation feeling you get being in Australia. It’s really the furthest point from my home and that can be very hard at times. But my songs are not all about me, some were written after movies I’ve seen. Or things I’ve watched on TV. Or stories I make up in my head. Nevertheless being melancholic is inherent to argentinians as being blunt is to spaniards.
Describe how you felt when you first held the finished copy of the album…
Oh, I felt so excited!!!! A great sense of pride and accomplishment. The first copies arrived the last week of January and I first saw them alone (well with Stuart Coupe, our label boss) because I was just about to travel to Argentina and my husband (Tom) stayed in Maitland, where we live. I had a crazy day at work and drove straight to Sydney to pick the cds so I could take some to my family the following day. I was stoked, and immediately called Tom who couldn’t wait to see them. I felt my perseverance and passion for this have finally materialized. I kept it cool at the label with Stuart & Vicki but once I got out of their place I screamed “FUCK YEAH!!” and jumped up and down like a little girl.
Tom has obviously been involved in a lot of great bands and albums, did he play a big role in the writing and recording of the album or is Up And Left more your musical project?
Well, he’s my husband so I may sound biased when I say he IS a musical genius. We co-wrote a couple of songs for the album: Terracotta Warrior and Crop Circles. We’ve written a few more songs together but this is more my musical project. He has great ideas for my songs but I always have the last say. I am the boss.
You are on a great supportive record label (Laughing Outlaw Records). Do you think independent record labels still have an important role to play in releasing and distributing music?
Yes I think independent labels are essential – If they weren’t around we would miss out on so many great bands. Let’s face it, the music industry has changed a lot and big labels release a lot of crap. I love being a Laughing Outlaw Records artist. Stuart (Coupe) and I get along very well and I find it really easy to work with. We share duties so I feel very much “in control” of where my music goes. They support community radio and I think that’s very cool.
Do you feel there is a strong community/scene in Sydney for the type of music that you play?
I like to think so! Sometimes it’s hard to know because we travel a lot. My husband and I live about 200kms north of Sydney, in the Hunter Valley and Sarah lives almost 600kms away, in Narrandera, near Wagga Wagga. So we don’t get to go to as many shows as we’d like to. I don’t know if people dig our type of music but yes, we do feel supported by the “scene”.
There is a fantastic live energy to your live shows, how important is playing live versus writing and recording?
I love playing live. It’s my favourite thing in the world. The magic of writing a song and then recording has no match, but then being able to play it live….Oh that’s the best! You can’t compare them; each of those processes has its own charm and it’s not a competition!
Do you plan to tour the new album?
Yes, we released it in April and we went to Melbourne in May to play a few shows and we officially launched it in Sydney at The Annandale. We’ll be playing more shows in Sydney but we’ll have a little regional tour as well. We’d love to go all around Australia but it’s a huge place so we’ll see how we go. We’ll also go to Spain to play a few shows there and around Europe. And of course we’d love to go to Argentina too.
A version of this interview was first published in Drum Media