Beyond labels on music and mental illnesses

The Músiques Sensibles (“Sensitive music”) Festival wagers, one more year, on musical diversity and non-profit associations, to which 10% of the ticket collection is devoted. One of the beneficiaries this year is Salut Mental Barcelonès Nord. We spoke with the director of the festival, the coordinator of the entity and with Intana and Gemma Humet, two of the singers who are part of a festival that, since its beginning, programs more than 50% female artists.

Labels always restrain, they bound. And if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. This maxim, that seems to come out of a self-help book, is deeply believed by Cristina Torres, director of the Festival Músiques Sensibles, and Laia Gòmez, the coordinator of Salut Mental Barcelonès Nord, one of the associations that will receive part of the collection of the festival (each year it devotes 10% of the ticket collection to different non-profit organizations). “Labels are not good for anyone. They stagnate and make you feel that you cannot get out of the limitations they imply. Therefore, we must work together with the people we serve in the association and with the healthy part that we all have, and thus achieve a better life quality”, explains Gomez.

Before each concert (the current year, six are programmed), the festival exhibits a video that shows the work of one of the associations with which it collaborates (in its last five editions it summed up 25 social projects, and now it will be necessary to add six more)

Socially we concentrate too much on the diagnosis: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or… But the puzzle of a wounded soul is much more complex. “The different services that Salut Mental Barcelonès Nord has been developing are adapted to each person and each diagnosis, taking into account the different effects of the disease processes in each person and, therefore, also her/his dreams, aspirations and life projects”.

For Laia Gòmez, the fact that Músiques Sensibles helps entities like hers is key. And she herself has been essential in this regard. “It’s wonderful that the festival does not stick to the biggest or best-known associations”, she says. Before each concert (the current year, six are programmed), the festival exhibits a video that shows the work of one of the associations with which it collaborates (in its last five editions it added 25 social projects, and now it will be necessary to add six more).

Músiques Sensibles is the sum of many people with social conscience. The idea was born in 2012, when the crisis hit hard. Serving as a loudspeaker to these entities that work from the anonymity and support their work seemed fundamental to me”.

When, on the Petit Palau stage -where this cycle is celebrated- the images of Salut Mental Barcelonès Nord will be shown -minutes before El Petit de Cal Eril, on November 21st-, the attendees will have in their hands a keychain that they received beforehand as a gift. It is made by people who come to the services of the entity, “specifically the social club Badiu, which aims to improve the socio-community insertion of people with mental problems”, explains Laia.

Cristina Torres holds one of these keychains, and looks at it while she nods. “Músiques Sensibles is the sum of many people with social conscience. The idea was born in 2012, when the crisis hit hard. Serving as a loudspeaker to these entities that work from anonymity and support their work seemed fundamental to me. At first, we took care of larger ones, to which our contribution did not suppose too much. Laia Gomez helped us and now we pay attention to these other, smaller ones where our donation is more effective. I am delighted that sometimes the associations themselves are the ones that knock on our door”, says happy Torres.

The director of the cycle tells how a project with words like diversity, commitment and sensitivity germinated. “ Músiques Sensibles was born due to a combination of situations: the opportunity to do it in a space that, back then, was the Liceu foyer, and that was barely known. The editorial line already consisted of looking at very good artists from here, who had trouble finding places to present their albums; to support people who try to live of music and who have a degree of commitment. And we also saw right away that we had to incorporate this social aspect we were talking about”.


Since last year, the festival has jumped to the Petit Palau, and the current edition has started big with a juicy aperitif: on October 18th, end of tour in the main hall of the Palau de la Música by Maria Arnal and Marcel Bagés (the success was predictable, the concert was sold out days before). The rest of the programme will be concentrated in an intense November and will start on the 9th with a double concert: the presentation in Barcelona of the new work of the singer Carmen Boza, Caja Negra, a recording about how to break with everything and defeat the internal beast; and the farewell tour of Intana, titled with its artistic nickname, a captivating album of acoustic, intimate and winking folk. Núria Moliner (the name that appears in her ID) ensures that “I wish all the festivals had this social part”. “Acting in projects like this makes me feel more at ease. More coherent. What can feel better than doing what I like most in the world, singing, and reaching a little further! It makes me even more eager”. Before these two women take the stage, the video that will be screened is that of Fundació Surt, a women’s organization committed to the values ​​of gender equity, inclusion, solidarity and social transformation.


The next appointment, also with two names the same night, will be on November 10th: Roger Mas, who will present the songs of Parnàs, and a very special recommendation, the young Brit Joe Dolman, which will make his debut in Spain with his recently published Live at All Saints Church, not forgetting his talent and the quality of his proposal.


Músiques Sensibles has always been attentive to emergent artists, whose recognition has grown afterwards, like Rozalén, Núria Graham, Kanka or Marion Harper. The festival also wagers on, at least, one international artist: in his previous editions, names like Joshua Radin, Carla Morrison, Alela Diane were programmed. The entity associated to the recitals of Roger Mas and Joe Dalman will be Pro Vellesa Autònoma, which was constituted with the desire to ensure the protection of the elderly, to ensure their well-being and quality of life.


The programme continues on November 16th with another farewell concert, that of Gemma Humet and Encara. “An album socially involved, that addresses the refugee crisis, the drama of war… To be able to sing these songs in a festival clearly committed to social problems is the ideal framework. The best. Empathy and wanting to help are essential”, emphasizes Humet, before resuming the issue of the labels that can do so much harm also in the world of music. “What a shame, to stick to them! Above all, journalists. Why pigeonhole me? Is it my fault if I do what I do, I feel what I feel and transmit it my way? On my first album I talked a lot about myself. It is always easier to look inside, where you come from, who you are… But, in this second, I had the need to explain how I see the things that happen around me. I always do what I feel at every moment. And I try to be as coherent as possible”. Gemma will share that night’s programme with Alidé Sans, singer of the Occitan language and accordionist, with warm and vibrant rhythms, who is presenting the album Henerècla. It will be a dialogue of women, and the entity associated with the evening could not be other than Diàlegs de Dones. An intercultural association that provides welcome and helps the integration of immigrant women.


The final stretch of Músiques Sensibles, the second half of the month, will be starred by Xoel Lopez’s performance (17th November) in acoustic version, interpreting Sueños y pan, a new exercise of creative freedom of Galician. And the opening association will be Aprenem, that works on the inclusion of people with autism. El Petit de Cal Eril (day 21st) will take over with its triangular disk: raised as a trilogy (its respective foundation is Salut Mental Barcelonès Nord). And the closing will be potent: The London Community Gospel Choir (day 23rd), one of the best gospel-soul formations in Europe. The association with which they are linked? Best Buddies, an international organization that fights for the social integration of people with intellectual disabilities and that has been trying to bury prejudices for years.

There are too many scourges and stigmas to overcome. But when music is sensitive, society follows.