12th Annual Instrumental Album Winner
12th Annual Instrumental Album Vox Pop Winner

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Record Label: Musea

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Home Base: Madrid, Spain

Genre: Art Rock

Categories Entered: Instrumental, Contemporary Classical, Rock

Work Submitted: Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble

Artists Featured: Kotebel

Label: Musea

Who are your influences?: Kotebel’s music is an elaborate, yet accessible blend of avant-garde symphonic rock, with a wide range of influences from classical to jazz to world music. Reviewers of our albums and fans mention influences as diverse as Genesis, Debussy, Yes, ELP, Ravel, Messiaen, Thinking Plague, The Enid, Steve Hackett, Gentle Giant, King Crimson or Chopin.

Describe your nominated work: Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble is our most ambitious work to date in our aim to merge symphonic rock and classical music. The album is divided in two sections. The first is the Piano Concerto itself, with the four movements that comprise it (43 minutes in total). The second part is “lighter” if we can use that description, and features 4 additional songs.

Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording?: Not really. We used a standard configuration of keyboards, guitars, bass and drums to support the piano soloist. Having said that, on “The Dance of Shiva” Carlos Franco our percussionist uses quite an assortment of traditional percussion elements.

Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned?: There was a very happy accident while recording. We decided to distribute a number of domestic cameras in the studio in order to have some sort of audiovisual support of the recording. It turned out that Carlos Levene did such a fantastic filming job, that we were able to generate a DVD with the recording sessions. The advantage is that we never planned for this to happen, so we went naturally about the business of recording the album and this gave the DVD a very nice spontaneity.

How did you raise the funds for this project? How long do you expect it will take to recoup your out-of-pocket recording expenses?: I put my own personal resources to fund the project. In addition, we did a sales campaign in December 2011 in order to help recover part of the investment. Today, a year after releasing the album, I have not recovered the investment yet. We hope to be able to break even by next summer. Fortunately, we are in this because we find Kotebel an appropriate vehicle for personal and artistic realization. Based on web statistics, if we had been able to collect just 3 euros for each illegal download, we would have not only recovered the investment, but would have enough money for our next album and also would have been able to pay each musician a decent amount to compensate for the many hours of study to prepare such a complex material.

Why did you choose to submit this work to The 12th IMAs?: IMA has already earned its reputation as one of the most important awards for independent music. Another key reason is that they include categories such as instrumental or contemporary classical were our music style would fit.

What’s your definition of success and how will you know when you’ve achieved it?: Success as an artist is to be able to be faithful to your inspiration and be able to produce your art without being limited by external constraints (usually economic). In that respect we believe that we have been very successful with Kotebel. We have been able to release 6 albums and in each we have freely decided what we wanted to express.

How will you leverage your IMA honors to achieve your career goals?: Kotebel is fairly well known by the progressive rock community in Europe, but not so much in the USA. We hope that this honor will allow us to finally reach the vast potential fan base that we have there.

Who’s sitting in your audience and what makes your fans unique?: Fans of progressive/symphonic rock are quite unique. Generally they are well educated and are acquainted with jazz and classical music. They look for music that challenges the mind and nurture the spirit. That is the reason why Art Rock and Classical Music have so much in common. They are an artistic manifestation, not a commercial product. Most of our fans know our music inside out and that requires us to give our best in each concert. They will be able to detect even minor flaws in our performance. But that makes our live shows even more enjoyable. We know that we have a demanding audience and we love that challenge.

What is your guilty pleasure on the road? Any close calls or mishaps while on tour?: We don’t play live as much as we would like to and we have never made a long tour. Therefore, we don’t really have much time for mishaps. So far, our experience playing together has been fantastic.

Who are your musical heroes & influences?: Each band member has different tastes and influences. Carlos Franco is a classically trained percussionist and until joining Kotebel, he was mainly a jazz drummer. That is what gives him such a distinct style. He is also a lot into world/folkloric music. César García Forero (guitars) and Jaime Pascual (bass) are more on the rock/hard rock side. My daughter Adriana Plaza Engelke, is a classically trained pianist and she has a very eclectic taste ranging from classical music, to progressive rock, jazz, music for films, etc. In my case, I devote most of my listening time to classical music, especially the period between 1880 and 1950 with special interest in composers like Ginastera, Villa-lobos, Ravel, Debussy, Prokoviev, Poulenc, Scriabin, Bartok, etc. The list would be too long. I also enjoy listening to the most avant-garde Art Rock bands, usually labeled under a denomination known as RIO (Rock in Opposition). I also like the early 70’s progressive rock classics like Yes, ELP, early Genesis, etc…

What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans?: I like jazz-latin fusion bands like Ruben Blades, and I also enjoy funky/soul bands like Earth, Wind and Fire.

How do you discover new music? Do you buy music or are you content with streaming?: Definitely what I like, I buy. No exceptions. I do use streaming to determine if I like an album. Once I make up my mind, it is only a question of whether I buy the physical album or I purchase a download.

How will musicians make a living if fans continue to expect music to be free?: While fans expect music to be free, the quality of music will continue to deteriorate. So it is a lose-lose situation. Most of the best musicians that I know cannot make a living with music. The consequence is that a fair amount of their vital energy is wasted in professional occupations that they would gladly change for making music.

What don’t fans/audiences understand about the music industry today?: That the music industry was not able to react to the changes brought by Internet. It was an atomic bomb and they are still trying to recover. It is like having a huge music store, and when you come in the morning, you find out that the doors are open and that people are going into the store and taking whatever they please, for free. Unfortunately, the solution does not come promptly, so the doors of the store are open for years, until people get used to not paying for it. This is understandable. But the big problem is that the worst hit is taken by art-music musicians. The underground bands and musicians who are the ones producing worthy artistic creations. The music business has found other ways to make money out of commercial music, like for example putting more focus on merchandising. But that doesn’t work for us. We need fans to pay for the music they consume; it is simple math.

Are digital singles/EPs vs. full albums the future?: That depends on the genre that you are talking about. In our case, we generate concept albums and sometimes our pieces last between 15 and 20 minutes. So the album is the natural vehicle for us to put the music in the market.

Finish this sentence: The music industry is…lost in the Internet jungle.

What do you have in the works for the upcoming year?: We are already writing for a new album that will have a very interesting concept. But we are still refining the idea so we cannot disclose it at this moment. Unfortunately, we will not be able to release it in the near future because we do not have the money required for it.

The best way to reach us and purchase our music is at our official website: www.kotebel.com
Our music is also available at Bandcamp: http://kotebel-music.bandcamp.com
and major on-line stores like iTunes or Amazon.

Since “Kotebel” is a made up word, you can easily Google us and you will find plenty of sites where you can find reviews of our albums. But please, when you Google us, please skip the illegal downloading sites! 😉