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Arts & culture

Barcelona’s Popular New Poetry-Music Duo

Written by Alise

The hot new act on the local arts scene in Barcelona is not just music and not just poetry- it’s both. Consisting of Iñaki C. Nazabal, the stoic poet with a deep, commanding voice, and Ian Sala, the youthful acoustic guitar plucking singer-songwriter, this as-of-yet unnamed duo has been taking Barcelona’s underground by fire.

Birth of the Project

Photo by Iñaki Nazabal

Ian, a Catalan native from Roses, and Iñaki, originally from Bilbao, met at open mic nights in Barcelona where each of them would individually perform music or recite poetry, respectively. They became fans of one another as well as friends. Iñaki admired Ian’s gentle folky guitar playing and pure, beautiful voice, and Ian was taken by Iñaki’s trademark slowed-down and methodical delivery of his poems that enraptures the audience’s attention. Eventually, Ian approached Iñaki with the idea to collaborate on a musical-poetic fusion, and Iñaki enthusiastically agreed to it.

Writing and Performance Style

As for the age-old question of whether the words or the music come first, Iñaki tells me that each piece is a little different. Sometimes, Iñaki approaches Ian with a poem that he has already written, and Ian will create backing music to go with it. Conversely, Ian sometimes has a song already written that Iñaki chooses to recite over. The poems, additionally, tend to revolve around a variety of topics, from love to societal issues to simply telling a story.

When the two perform, they seamlessly meld their two signature styles, with Ian playing usually soft and beautiful acoustic guitar pieces and Iñaki reciting deliberately in his soft yet deep voice. The words don’t fit into each bar like a rap song, as they are performed more slowly, but they still complement the rhythm of the music.

The Future

Photo by Iñaki Nazabal

After this summer, the two would like to record an album. Iñaki tells me that it’s important for them for the album to be “created with momentum, with soul, but also with patience and love.” In the meantime, they are continuing to play in small venues throughout the city, including their next show at a hip cultural center called The Collective in Raval. That one is happening on the 24th of June, and is not to be missed as it will act as their farewell for the summer before returning with force next September. 

The Collective is located at Carrer d’en Roig 11, near Liceu metro (green line 4). For more information on Ian and Iñaki, you can follow their facebook page.

About the author


Alise is a spoken word poet, writer, and a dance and yoga enthusiast living in Barcelona.

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