La Fúmiga is synonymous with Valencian musical culture, dance, joy, the Mediterranean -or mediterrània-, and, of course, summer. But this is not a summer like any other. Music is more absent than ever and the streets no longer have the joyous life that accompanies the festivities of other August.
With the current health crisis we have to reinvent our day to day. However, this does not prevent us from continuing to live. And luckily Groups like La Fúmiga make an extra effort, especially in such difficult moments for musical groups, to show us that we can continue to enjoy of joy and our culture without risking health.
That is why, almost improvised, they have been encouraged to give a concert this Saturday in the Plaza de Toros de Ondara; municipality and region that has seen those of Alzira grow musically. Because they did not imagine a summer, no matter how exceptionally we live, without stepping on the Marina Alta.
And the Marina Alta will receive them. After shuffling several municipalities, finally Ondara, where they have created their album, will be the setting for this particular concert. For this reason, we spoke with Àrtur Martínez who, together with Jose Beteta, gives voice to La Fúmiga.
QUESTION. How is the season going in a new normal? Have you been able to save something?
ANSWER. We had a tour with 60 concerts scheduled until the end of the year since February, which is when everything usually closes. All of that fell. Either it was postponed or it was canceled, and nothing was left. We have not saved any bolus, absolutely.
From there, what we did was face the problem and try to find a way to continue playing, to pass the time, for the people, but, above all, for our team of workers who in the end are the ones who live from this. We, luckily or unfortunately, do not earn a penny, but all those people are in a situation of complete abandonment. We wanted to do what was in our power looking for alternatives.
We were able to gather 5 or 6 spaces that, finally, 2 or 3 had to be canceled at the last minute for reasons of protocols, security and others. Because we, not like others, yes that We have taken COVID protocols and security measures very seriously, to demonstrate that, that things can be done. That obviously the paradigm has changed, but surely it will not be for us that culture is not made.
Q. How many concerts have you done?
R. We played the Feslloc festival, which was one of the most important acts of bravery. Because in the end in the Valencià Country the whole theme of festivals has been suspended. No type of readjustment has been made to the new regulations, and Feslloc went ahead with a very reduced format that we were lucky to participate in.
We also played in Alzira, which was our own production where we were able to put 700 people in a banquet room with a huge investment in security issues. It was like a gift to the people of our town and of La Ribera.
In the same way, we did a concert in Alicante, in an initiative of the Generalitat to reactivate culture.
It's the only thing we've done so far. And as we always said, we had the feeling that we owed a concert to the Navy, as they have always treated us in an exceptional way. We broke our horns until the last minute and on Monday, we were finally able to find a space.
We are very grateful to Ondara for giving us that place so that we could make our production. It is not that it is an organization of the city council, but that they give the site for you to do your event there. And today it is the only city council that has done that.
P. On Tuesday, just a couple of days ago, you announced the concert in Ondara. Why is everything so improvised?
R. Our office contacted many municipalities of the Navy to ask only that a space be assigned. A large open-air space, where you can put a capacity according to what we expect to come. But absolutely no one is doing something like this for our sector. What's more, I would say that this way concerts a little more massive, beyond 300 or 400 people, we are the only ones doing. And we are doing it under our responsibility and that is why we are so incisive with security measures. Why is a way of showing the administration that, if you want, you can. That if there is a will, things can be done. And that people understand the regulations and what is the current moment.
Therefore, it is also a call to the administrations (Provincial Council, city councils ...) so that, please, they push forward. Not for us, but for all the colleagues in the music sector, and more of the music made in the Valencià Country, which is a minority sector that needs support, especially at times like this.
The truth is that we have felt very abandoned and we continue to feel that way.
P. Also, you have been caught by the pandemic in full presentation tour. And not just any album, but the first studio album.
R. So is. We did 4 concerts to present the album, in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and we started shooting the first day in Potries. And from there it was all over. There was nothing else. So far we come.
It's a shame with the first album, when you intend to roll it and expand a little more, since we had bowling in Catalonia and it was a year to make ourselves known above. But everything falls. Although we, far from falling into sadness and laziness we decided that we would do everything possible to get ahead. And when we have done concerts it has been very special and very exciting, because people wanted to. In the end it is a way of disconnecting a bit from the monothem that, I suppose, everyone has in our brain now and that is disrupting our lives so much.
"Spending a summer as special as this one without stepping on the Navy was something that we refused one hundred percent"
If culture saved us when we were at home in confinement, it also saves us now. Because when we go to a concert is when we disconnect. And if we feel safe there, we feel that everything is fulfilled, and also the audience we have had is the most responsible that you can find, because it is time to encourage these initiatives.
P. And why, to make what you say see, have you chosen Ondara and the Marina Alta?
R. The Navy, as you well know, has been a source of creation of groups that have represented us so much. We are from La Ribera, but whenever we have gotten a little closer to the Marina we have felt as if we were at home. I believe that both the Marina Alta and the Baixa are the regions that we have touched the most. Always with a response from both the public and energy far above what we expect.
So, spending a summer as special as this one without stepping on the Marina was something that we refused one hundred percent. That is why we have fought until the last moment to find a space and at the last minute this space in the Plaza de Toros appeared.
In addition, we have a special connection with Ondara. The music that has been made by La Fúmiga has been recorded there, at Mark Dasousa's studio. Precisely there in the Plaza de Toros is where, when we stop to eat, we have coffee, ha ha ha. As long as there are no bulls, the bullrings are pretty and all.
It is a very special place for us. We had never played in Ondara and look, it is a town where we spend hours and hours of our lives. I think it will be a very special and beautiful concert. People's response also seems very positive. Since we announced the concert, in a few hours half of the tickets were sold out. The pity is that, having reduced capacity, there will be people who are left out. But, let's see if in some way it serves as an example for other towns in the Navy that are encouraged to continue betting on our culture and music. That if we do not go, we will go to the public to see colleagues that we are also dying to see.
P. For all the people who have not yet been able to go to a concert in the new normal, what are you going to see at the La Fúmiga concert? As will be?
R. During the first concerts we did, the regulations wouldn't let you get up from your chairs. Now they are leaving. The mask is mandatory as anywhere.
It is a concert where you cannot move since you have assigned your space and your chair, but the energy is spectacular. In Alzira, for example, we were 700 people, which is not a super important number, but it is one of the concerts from which we receive the most energy from people.
They want so much to do something that they haven't been able to do for so long that conditions don't matter. If you get carried away by the music, it's almost like an act of rebellion now, go to a concert, sing, dance in your space and have a great time.
Q. We know that you have a song with an important group in the Marina Alta such as Smoking Souls. Is any collaboration expected on Saturday?
R. Hahaha. I don't believe, I don't believe. Now it is not easy to bundle partners. Well, we have tied up our friends from Pupil.les, we try to get them to come whenever they can, but… Well, you may have given me an idea ha ha ha.
Smoking also, if I'm not mistaken, they played at Feslloc and couldn't do anything else. Because many things have been suspended. We because we have looked for life, but it has not been any external initiative. That's the problem. The absolute paralysis of cultural programming and music programming in our sector is alarming, dangerous and we will regret it in time..
We are really at a critical moment. Because without concerts the project cannot be sustained. We keep making music, we keep making video clips, we keep paying rent, we keep paying for materials, we keep paying for vans, without receiving any income.
If they don't realize that, later, when the Valencian and Valencian groups are not there, we will all cry. I imagine more of us, because we really wanted this adventure, this dynamic, but we will go as far as we can. The situation is not simple, we are not going to fool ourselves.
Q. Do you have any other concert scheduled for after Ondara?
Nothing, absolutely nothing. Well, there is a gig on August 21 in Lleida. It is the only thing that remains there, which is still a concert from the scheduled tour. Let's hope it can be done and that we can at least visit Catalonia once this summer.
"There are months and months to live the new normal, so we either assume it soon or we will never assume it"
Ondara's initiative in these times is to be appreciated. I think it is time to demonstrate this type of betting as a corporation. At the end of this we will remember. From Ondara we will always remember that he threw a cape on us, never better said, to give us the bullring. That is not forgotten, when in bad times someone supports you. That stays in memory.
P. Thank you very much, Àrtur. Is there anything you want to add to encourage that person who may be afraid to approach the concert because of the situation?
R. That people are not afraid, because our audience is exemplary and when they are told not to remove their mask, they do not remove it. You can dance in your space with your people and, although it is not the tumult of before, it is fun and it is the new reality. There are months and months left to live it, so we either assume it soon or we will never assume it.