Tanxugueiras is the word of the year 2021 for the Royal Galician Academy, which has selected it ahead of words such as resilience Y vaccine. It could not be less, with all that this trio of tambourines has done and does to promote the Galician language and culture through their music, their lyrics, their speech and staging.
The group is made up of Olaia and Sabela Maneiro, twins, and Aida Tarrío (Ribeira, 1997). We received two of them at the Cadena SER studios in Madrid, immediately after having attended the presentation of the 14 candidates to the Benidorm Fest, the festival where the next representative of Spain will be chosen at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Neither coat nor scarf is removed for the interview. They are tired of the promotion, it has been an overwhelming success. In just 24 hours, his single Terra has exceeded 500,000 views and the video was also close to half a million views on YouTube alone.
“We are very happy and excited about all this. It’s tiring, because the promotion adds to all the illusion that you have and of course, that illusion is as if you were up there often and up all the time you can’t be. When you go down a bit, It is exhausting, but we carry it – says Sabela. We hoped that people would be attentive to what we were going to get out, wait, we expect many things. But you do not expect such reproductions, comments, the super friendly and rich people. Supporting us as if we were part of his family and defending us to the death. “
“We do not have words of gratitude for all those people – adds Aida – one thing is what is seen in social networks, but we receive many private messages from people who are proud of the subject, who feel it and are emotional like us. Many who cry, cry and tell us privately. We are super grateful for those messages, that is the greatest reward we can have for this work. “
Tanxugueiras is the word of the year for the Royal Galician Academy. What is tanxugueiras?
We are three women who bet on the traditional music of Galicia. Our greatest goal is to be able to bring Galician music to all possible scenarios and, above all, to enjoy what we are doing and to value our language, Galician, our music and culture.
When did you start in music
We started as a group to play in the foliadas and serans, which are the festivals in Galicia where traditional music is played. Six years ago. But the group, professionally, has been working hard for three years, almost nonstop. We got together in an association to learn to play the tambourine and we became very good friends.
The first time we sang together it was magic, it was singing and we asked ourselves: can you make a group and hardly rehearse? Then we realized that no, that we had to rehearse anyway. But the first song was very nice to us.
Where does that taste for traditional music come from, rooted in Galicia?
Olaia and I – answers Sabela -, we are twins, from a council near Santiago, called Teo. All the girls and boys were going to play the tambourine to the association, especially the girls. And to dance.
And I do have a grandmother – he adds to Aida – who was a singer and songwriter. In her village, all the girls played the tambourine. One day I asked myself: how I don’t know how to play the tambourine, I can’t integrate myself, because I only know how to clap. So I learned to play the tambourine with my other grandmother, who went to tambourine classes, from the age of nine, when I started with her, I did not stop.
Why did women play the tambourines alone or mostly? Are there no tambourine men?
Usually it was the women. Especially the tambourine and the traditional song, which was made for dancing. The dance is the Tinder, in the foliated was the Tinder of before. Where did you go to strut, to find a partner. Who wanted to touch? No one. But you had to play to dance, so it was always the turn of two or three women, and the men had to show off. The tambourine was an instrument for women. In the foliadas you hired a bagpiper and paid him, but the tambourines were there because someone had to play and they did not charge.
Of course, because there is a lot of tradition of bagpipers, but not of tambourine players
You usually know bagpipers by name and score, but you know the tambourines if you went there to pick up the songs, but there are no names that you remember. There was a loss of prestige towards singing and the tambourine, but they were women with a taste for music and a way of making lyrics … which was pure poetry. It was not given the value that it had to be given, many of them are still alive and I think it is time to give back all those they gave us.
We always say that we have a Galician Literature Day and we would like one day to celebrate Galician letters to all the women who made popular lyrics, which in the end was poetry. Many of the people, who listen to popular lyrics, are amazed and do not know that they were made by people who could not read or write.
And what were those letters like? You can sing them today or you had to adapt them
We always respect the metrics and the way of making the songs from before. They keep talking about the same thing: love, heartbreak, sadness, joy, we keep getting involved with the person next to us … The way of feeling has not changed, although the way of expressing feelings has changed.
Obviously there are many verses that must be taken out of the repertoire because they are sexist, homophobic. Those were the times that ran before.
And there were many couplets with double meanings. I remember one that said: Before I was from your garden gardener … and now I see that you have another new gardener. Many have told us that how beautiful it is, that it speaks of love … It speaks of love, yes, but of the love of other things. (They laugh).
And what is Terra, what is Terra talking about
Terra is root, cultural diversity, it is union, it is a people and, above all, it is a song to leave behind prejudices and that poor mind, which many continue to have. The co-official languages are there, they do not bite, unless you insult, but that happens with any language. They have to be normalized.
With Terra we have also thought not only about what is currently happening, but about everything that has happened for the simple fact of speaking in another language. That persecution of all those people for speaking what was spoken in their town. All those people who have seen the repression in their parents or in their grandparents for speaking in another language, now see how a song in another language can go to a contest, to the Benidorm festival, singing in Galician, in Catalan, in Basque or Bable, is a pride. We are the vehicle that transmit that, but we speak on behalf of many people.
It is the milk that we can be the first, but that we are Galician is a people’s pride. They could not pay us in money for the pride that the people give us to feel united. There are many political formations that want to disunite the people because that way war is easier. But the united people will never be defeated.
Some singers with whom I have been able to speak these months, such as the Greek Eleftheria Arvanitaki or the Portuguese Mariza, coincide in pointing out a resurgence of traditional music in their countries during the pandemic. Especially among young people, as we have taken refuge in our roots in this very difficult time. Do you have the same feeling?
We notice a change, a change in mentalities. You are so lost when this kind of thing happens from the quarantine, the pandemic … that you look for your roots. In the end, traditional music is pure and hard land and you don’t know why, it is imprinted in our DNA. It is something that comes and that heals your heart.
And we all needed to hear and see different, unique things, saturated with so much tragic information. There are high-quality traditional music projects, such as Rodrigo Cuevas or Baiuca, that they have nothing to envy to any artist that appears in The main 40 every day.
Now that you mention Rodrigo Cuevas, I want to ask you about the staging. Rigoberta Bandini said in the presentation of the candidates for the Benidorm festival, who would like to be able to show a tit like Freedom guiding the people by Delacroix. Rodrigo Cuevas has a risky staging, cabaret, do you see yourself showing your breasts, as he can do?
We do not rule it out. We love Rodrigo for life, but if we began to teach more than necessary, there would be criticism and more expectation than if any of the boys who appear at the show do so. Benidorm festival. As Rigoberta said, in the end art is art and you have to express it in your own way. Hopefully we can show the boobs and what we want, because it is our body. If we want to teach them, we teach them, if not, no.
I don’t know what we will do in the Benidorm festival, but we are three girls who have no prejudices, no complexes or fear. Whatever we want to do, as long as it is not violent and illegal, we will do it.