In today’s programme we look at a success story. Mary Stone interviews Ian Briton, a composer and musician living in Barcelona whose career took off when the famous theatre company, the Fura dels Baus, began using his music. Ian Briton is an example of how a talented foreigner can come to this city, struggle for however long it takes, and then succeed and become famous. A former Londoner of Scottish descent, Briton’s music has honoured royal performances, massive outdoor concerts, innu-merable smaller concerts and theatrical events. He is also an award-winning composer of film soundtracks.
Mary: Good afternoon, Ian, and welcome to our weekly programme.
Ian: Thank you.
Mary: I am very curious about what made you leave London and come to Barcelona. What attracted you to Barcelona?
Ian: Well, in fact nothing really attracted me. My girlfriend was Catalan, we met in London and when she came back here to visit her family, I decided to join her. That was in 1986, when Barcelona was just a charming town that nobody knew about or cared about, but full of life. When I came to Barcelona, there was absolutely nothing happening musically here, no international musicians, nobody setting up studios. Nobody took the place seriously enough to actually come here to live and work.
Mary: Did you study music in London before coming to live here in Barcelona? What is your musical background?
Ian: When I was around 18, in London, I used to spend most of my time with a bunch of people who were all music-crazy like I was. We did a lot of courses, jazz courses, African music. In England at the time you could do a whole course for a year for about 50p, just incredible, anybody with a dole card could sign up for a course where great musicians taught seminars.
Mary: What was your musical instrument at the time?
Ian: I played the guitar. I started playing the guitar in a band that had some success, but then we all got a little older and people started trying to really be successful and I think that took all the fun out of it.
Mary: Did you find the fun again when you came to Barcelona? What did you do when you came here? It surely was very difficult to scrape a living as a musician.
Ian: Yes, you’re right. Well, after a year of teaching English and playing here and there, I went down to Valencia, which unlike Barcelona, was a much better place, with a great atmosphere and lots of music. I ended up living there for three years, forming a band, which won first prize at a music festival, and producing a record. We also made a video clip of our band, Machine Gun, playing this disgusting sort of primitive techno music with me screaming over the top of it, and the video won first prize at an important contest in Vitoria.
Mary: How did you begin working with the Fura dels Baus?
Ian: Well, after things came to an end in Valencia, on my first week back in Barcelona I learned about an audition for the Fura and within a month I was on tour with them. This was in 1990 and the Fura were really happening, they were at their commercial peak, I’d say, and were doing tours around the world. I worked on and off with them for five years, playing music, acting, singing and running the computers. I’ve done other things with them since, like the Millennium show, a massive event for the eve of 2000, in which I composed and played all the music. I had never done anything on that scale, so it was really important for me, and very exciting.
Mary: Have you done any other large events?
Ian: Yes. I composed the music for the inauguration of the Fórum, and the music was then played every night for the main show there. The King of Spain attended the opening night, so I guess that makes it a royal performance. My parents watched it on TV back in England and they couldn’t believe it when I was presented as the composer.
Mary: I can imagine. It was probably a shock for them.
Ian: Yes. And I also now make soundtracks for films, and my soundtrack for Agustí Vila’s UnBanco en el Parque won first prize at the Tolouse film festival. I guess all the experience is beginning to pay off.
Mary: We’ll what an interesting life! I’m afraid we’ve run out of time. Thank you, Ian, for being with us today, and good luck!
Ian: My pleasure. Thank you.