Pumarosa interview: 'an explosion of music is a real release'

Henry Lewis caught up with the London five piece to discuss female protagonists, the weirdest thing America could throw at them and the joy of live music.

Henry Lewis

Date published: 14th Nov 2017

Image: Marko Righo / Pumarosa (credit)

London five piece Pumarosa aren't just your average, two bit indie band. With an ethereal quality to their shimmering, synth heavy tunes, where stinging guitar lines cry out alongside Isabel Munoz-Newsome's unspeakably beautiful voice, the group have created something truly special in debut record The Witch, which was released earlier this year.

Highlights include seven and a half minute epic 'Priestess', with spins on a deep bass groove with hypnotic sax moments and perfectly judged percussion, while its video features the equally gifted sister of Isabel, Fernanda, the song's subject.

As well as dropping their debut album this year, the group experienced a festival season full of outstanding performances, winning plaudits for their mesmerising stage presence. We caught up with the band as they delivered their incredible live show around Mexico, ahead of dates back home this winter.

Hi Pumarosa, how are you? 

Very well, thank you.

I believe you’re on tour in Mexico at the moment - is this the first time for you guys or have you visited before? What’s the best thing about Mexico?

This is the first time any of us have been to Mexico...we've had a bit of time at the end of the tour to travel around, but have only scratched the surface really. The Zapotec ruins at  Monte Albán are pretty special.

You have also spent some time in America this year - what’s the craziest thing you’ve seen out there? 

A hamburger watching a goujoun watching a hotdog.

Soon you’ll be back in England for your winter tour - there’s something very special about going to gigs this time of year isn’t there?

Definitely - as an audience member I love it. Its cold and dark outside..I will probably have been stuck in a room somewhere all day and so a gig, an explosion of music is a real release. Being on tour at this time of year is pretty schizophrenic, dismal days in a van on the motorway and then suddenly its like a switch is thrown on and we all light up. Its potent.

Going back to May you released your debut record The Witch - big congratulations on that! - it’s a moment all bands dream of, so how incredible did it feel when you put it out there into the big wide world?

It felt great! There was a long wait between finishing the recording and releasing it - so we were eager to get it out there. It's nice to have a full bodied piece of work out there, rather than singles.

The title puts a woman at the heart of the matter, and by having a female perspective you’ve put a spin on the norms of indie which is hugely patriarchal - how important was this not just for you as a band to send out a message, but also to women that will be listening? 

At the time of writing The Witch, I was reading some interesting histories that detailed the pretty brutal coercion of women throughout Europe. The situation for women is changing, but the imbalance is still so great - I was trying to understand what made this so and some of the songs came from this search.

Isabel, your voice is completely mesmerising throughout the record, as silly as this might sound, but is this something you’ve always had or did it develop over time? Did your theatre background give you an opportunity to hone your talent? 

Thank you! I didn't always know I was going to be a singer. It came primarily I think from my participation in performance and performance art...sometimes singing felt right and it grew from there. My involvement with theatre was always as a designer, so no stage school for me!

Which singers did you look up to growing up? 

Many many singers - P.J. Harvey, Tina Turner, Prince...

Your sister Fernanda dances in the Priestess video - you’re a talented family, right? Were you always encouraged to just pursue your dreams and talents? 

Yes I guess I was. My mum and dad have always been incredibly encouraging. We always had to support ourselves financially, so I think early on that may have influenced me, I tried to study something that would lead to a job...but in the end I just joined the circus! (a band) I think I was lucky in that I never received the question "when are you going to get a proper job" 

With all this time on the road coming up, what’s Pumarosa’s favourite tour bus game / pass time? 

Word association to a techno beat. Its really good. Try it! 

Find Pumarosa tickets below

Newcastle Upon Tyne - The Cluny, Thursday 30th November

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Manchester - Gorilla, Friday 1st December

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Birmingham - Hare And Hounds, Monday 4th December 

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