Despite the cold that plagues Barcelona, in the Hangar 05 room “the street burns in the setting sun”. The rhythm of the eighties is recovered by the members of the Xaiques Band, a group made up of six men -all of them Mossos d’Esquadra, by the way- who revive the soundtrack of their adolescence mixing songs in Spanish, Catalan or English. But all of them interpreted in sign language.
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The six police officers are joined on stage by Anna Armadà, an interpreter who, without saying a single word, embodies the cockiness of the leader of Radio Futura when he performed ‘Escuela de calor’. The hands of this young woman are one more instrument; she does not limit herself to translating the lyrics of the song with the impassive rictus of the interpreters that we can see on newscasts or sessions of Congress. This young woman dances with her hands: from her movements you can guess the rhythm of the music and the cadence of the words.
With his gestures, his body and his face -which also sway according to what the song tells- Armadà makes the music visible. And make it inclusive for deaf people. This professional interpreter began to sign music a little over fifteen years ago. The beginnings of her were with children’s songs and she continued with the gospel. Today she works for the Enchanted association, which is dedicated to organizing concerts like the Xaiques Band and making sure that the entire event is inclusive. A job that remains minority.
Currently there are various artists who, like Rozalén, have made the performers one more of the band and others who, like Eminem, have brought signed music to stages like the Super Bowl. This inclusive commitment has grown over time and deaf people enjoy a much greater offer than a few decades ago, but it is still not the norm. On the one hand, because there aren’t many interpreters and those who want to follow this path are even fewer. And on the other, because “both for the artists and the signers it involves a lot of work,” says Armadà.
Behind what seems like any ‘performance’, professionals like her must adapt the lyrics of the songs to sign language. “There is no exact translation for certain expressions or puns. You have to look for the closest thing, ”she says. In addition, they also translate the lyrics into Catalan or Spanish. And to all this we must add a scenic predisposition, because “it is necessary that the body and the attitude accompany what the hands say”, adds the interpreter. And it’s true, because even without understanding sign language, simply by looking at Armadà’s attitude, you can tell if we’re dealing with a thug theme from Los Ronaldos or if it’s something more flirtatious, perhaps out of Coti’s vintage.
A concert for anyone
Once this entire adaptation process has been carried out, comes the rehearsal. That is the moment that is taking place in the Hangar 05 room. To prepare the final concert (which will take place in Gas Light on Sunday, December 11) have had not only artists and performers, but also various deaf people, who make sure that everything goes smoothly and that they understand everything that happens on stage.
Eugenia is one of them and she has been coming to the Encantados rehearsals for four years now. She has never been able to hear, but that hasn’t stopped her from being “a music lover.” What she has made it a little more difficult for her is that there was no accessibility. So she was looking for life. “Like any teenager, she went to clubs with my friends. The difference was that they liked the center of the floor and I liked to be close to the loudspeaker, ”she recalls. By touching the surface of the amplifier, Eugenia could feel how the rhythm entered her body through the palm of her hand.
Vibrations are another of the allies of deaf people. The Encantados association distributes balloons among those attending its concerts: by touching them or placing them on the chest, the vibrations are amplified and make it possible to feel nuances of the music that are imperceptible even to hearing people. Eugenia likes any type of music, but this woman in her fifties, with openwork glasses and a modest appearance, admits that she enjoys heavy music a lot. “The more basses, guitars and drums, the better,” she says.
And if they are served by something in Xaiques Band it is guitar, bass and drums. But also with the desire to make his music reach anyone. The rehearsal is for a concert that will bear the name ‘Mossos for the Marathon‘ (who will donate the proceeds to the charity program that TV3 dedicates every year to a disease) and they were clear that it should be a solidarity recital, but also inclusive.
This Barcelona band was born exactly 11 years ago and was created for the same charity concert. And more than a decade later they have come together again, incorporating a new person onto the stage, including Anna Armadà. It is the first time that they play their music adapted for deaf people. “It’s beautiful to see how music reaches them. To see that, although in different ways, we can all be present in a song”, explains Josep Lluís Guerrero, vocalist of Xaiques, who assures that the credit belongs to professionals like Anna. “They are not just interpreters, but some more artists”, he assures.
“All the beautiful things in life should be for everyone. And it’s maddening to see that sometimes they are not simply due to a lack of sensitivity or money”, says Núria Martorell, promoter of Encantados. Together with her partner, Franzina Cortés, they left everything and gave themselves to this project that has been facilitating the accessibility of concerts since 2019. “The subsidies are ridiculous and very difficult to obtain,” adds Cortés. For this reason, from this association they appreciate the effort of any group that makes the leap to inclusion, be it big like Coldplay or small like Xaiques Band.
The idea of putting himself in the hands of Encantados came from Santi, the brother of Josep Lluís, a member of the band and also of the association. “I have been collaborating for a long time and I know that any grain of sand that we can contribute is important to make music accessible,” he explains. In this concert, the band’s repertoire will consist of 19 songs, which they will play with three different performers. It has been hard work but, according to the brothers, it is worth it.
Especially for experiencing the premiere of ‘Batega el cor’ (the heart beats), a song created exclusively for this concert and which can be sung by the entire audience, either with their voices or with their hands. And it is that before interpreting this song, a deaf person will go on stage and teach those present to sign the chorus of the song. In such a way that all Gas Light will be able to beat at the same time.