About The Band:
For any of our readers who are unfamiliar with yourselves tell us a little bit about your band.
Hi! We’re Ricardo Dikk and Sandrine Orsini (bassist and vocalist) of The Bateleurs, and we are a Blues/Rock band from Lisbon, Portugal and we’ve recently released our first EP, The Immanent Fire.
What was your earliest memory of music that peaked your interest?
RD: I remember vividly the first time I heard Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker”. my father played it on our old turntable and I immediately felt that was the most awesome thing I ever listened and I want to learn how to do it; I was 9 years old.
SO: It was a tradition in my family to watch the Eurovision Song Contest; I remember singing along since I was probably 7 years old, and Celine Dion victory in ‘88 was what really made think I wanted to become a singer.
Who was the first album / single you purchased?
RD: the first record I bought with some money I earned in Christmas from my relatives was Iron Maiden’s “Somewhere in Time”; it was the year of 1987.
SO: the first record I bought with my own money was “Far Beyond Driven” by Pantera, in 1995; I wanted to buy a record with explicit lyrics…
When did you first pick up your respective instrument ?
RD: my father bought me a guitar when I was 10, because I simply couldn’t stop nagging him about it, but after a couple of years, I sold it to a neighbor of mine and bought a bass, simply because we wanted to form a band and we only have guitar players on our neighborhood…
SO: I started singing with my sister, she is a very musical person, she was always listening to music and singing along, and I couldn’t avoid doing the same, and we sang together since I can remember, probably as early as my 5 years old.
What route did you take with your music / instrument / lessons / music school / self-taught and any fond memories of that journey?
RD: I started right away jamming with friends, trying to learn our favorite tunes. It was difficult because we had virtually no information, we learned everything by ear, many times we get it wrong, but with time we’ve started writing our own songs and were thrilled with it; by the age of 16 I already had been in 5 or 6 bands and we were gigging hard, traveling by train and bus, playing really shitty places but having a blast. By that time I knew I will be doing this for a living, and I started having lessons on a prestigious Jazz School, the Portuguese Hot Club; learned some foundation theory, but looking back I have to say that 90% of what I’ve learned have been with other fellow musicians, especially theory. Fortunately, I had the luck of playing with some of the finest musicians Portugal has to offer, and learned something from each one of them; in fact, I still do.
SO: I sang at home all my young life, my sister and I used to do duets and harmony singing, and later started to sing at the school talent show. When I was 17 I was invited to sing at a party held by the Portuguese Army Orchestra, they liked me and I joined; that was the my first professional experience.
Who were your hero’s as a young musician that inspired and pushed you to want to be a musician too?
RD: that answer have 2 stages: when I was very young, we were at the golden age of NWOBHM, and Steve Harris was my God; latter, when I started studying Jazz and found out about Jaco Pastorius, he became an inspiration and an almost inexhaustible source of study material.
SO: When I was very young, it was Celine Dion, because she sang in French, and she conquered the world, and it made me think it was not impossible. I always really knew I was going to become a singer, I never wanted to be anything else.
Is there one particular album or song that gave you a “Eureka” moment from your youth that made you want to be a musician?
RD: I knew I wanted to play at a very young age, as said above, but the situation that made me really think in going Pro was when I was payed to play for the first time; We’ve got 20$ each to play at a school dance, and I said to myself: ok, I don’t want to earn money any other way, this is how I’m gonna support myself…so far, I’ve managed to do it!
SO: My Eureka moment was definitely the first time I stepped up a stage to sing; I was 15 years old and I knew right there that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
What was the best gig you’ve ever attended?
RD: the gig that left the deepest mark on me was a concert by the Pat Metheny Group in the late 90s; I was young and was really into Jazz and Fusion, and the musicianship and fluidity of the whole band just blew my mind; more recently, I had the opportunity to see Robert Plant and the
Sensational Space Shifters and I confess my knees trembled when he sang “Going to California”…
SO: Skunk Anansie, I really was into Skin and they gave a mind blowing concert; more recently we went to see Rival Sons at the Melkweg in Amsterdam, and it was definitely one of the best Rock’n’Roll gigs I ever saw.
Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
RD: I confess that, because of my Heavy Metal upbringing, sometimes when I see on the right side of Youtube a video from Manowar, I cannot help myself and press play, just to remember how we loved that shit back then…
SO: I love to listen to Disney movies soundtracks on Spotify…just love the arrangements and the theatrical side of it.
So any new music in the works currently or just released?
We’ve recently released our first EP The Immanent Fire, and we’re working on the songs for our first album
Where and when did you record it?
We did it last year, and we divided the sessions in two different studios; we needed a big room for the drums, so we went to one of the top facilities here in Portugal, Canoa Studios, which the owner is a great friend of mine, and we’ve played a live set of the songs, to capture the most of the energy and raw feel of the songs; we’ve spent just 6 hours of studio time; we ended up just using the drums and bass takes, and then we headed to another studio, closer to home and did the guitars and vocals with less pressure, and had the opportunity to experiment with the textures and arrangements. I (RD) mixed the EP in my home studio, always with the input of my fellow band mates, until everybody was satisfied with the results. We were very throughout with our performances, we refused completely to use any digital manipulation tools like Beat Detective or Flextime, and absolutely no pitch correction technology, like Melodyne or Autotune. We believe that these tools completely kill the soul of a recording, and nowadays people tend to overuse them; the records we love were done without them, and they stood the test of time, so we go to the studio and play and hit and scream until our fingers bleed and our throats are sore, and hopefully you can hear it on the final recording…no tricks and no digital magic, just sweat and blood.
How does the song writing process generally work for you?
There’s really no fixed pattern to it; sometimes we have a subject we want to address, and we begin with the lyrics. Other times we stumble on really cool riff and start working from it. We record some rough home demos and then we hit the studio to polish arrangements and structure. It’s a very open process and everybody’s got a say, we just do it the way we feel more natural and are very flexible about it, there’s no formula to it.
What route have you taken to build up and establish a fan base locally & beyond your local area?
We try to capitalize on the fans that already were following us, we’ve been playing the local covers circuit for a while now, and the people who already knew us are into the kind of sound we’re doing, so it’s been a good starting point; we try to be active in social media to attract more fans, but nothing is more effective than playing live. We’re trying to book as many gigs as we can, but we try to be selective with the venues to assure the maximum turnout possible; sometimes we aim for the best cash revenue, but others we do it for exposure, if we feel that is a gig that could make us play to our target audience, we don’t mind to earn a little less to reach a wider audience.
What is the music scene like locally to you and where do you fit in?
Here the original music scene is not very favorable to the kind of music we’ve been doing. There’s not many venues open to it, and the really big scene in Portugal nowadays are the Tribute bands. People will sell out gigs to see a tribute of a band they love, but many shows of original music are with very few to none audience. One practice that’s becoming common is an original band opening to a tribute, just to ensure they will play to a packed house. It’s not an ideal scenario, but we have to work with it somehow.
Do you feel there are enough venues around you to help promote and establish up and coming bands like yourself?
There are some, but the audience is scattered, and it’s difficult to have a decent turnout; Portugal is a very small country and we’re not a rich people, so the majority of us are very careful with their spending, and usually prefer to invest in things they already know. That’s why the tribute scene is thriving, people won’t risk to spend their weekend money on something they don’t really know, even with all the social media that we use to promote original music, they prefer to listen to Guns’n’Roses or Pearl Jam tributes one more time. There are some exceptions, but they are few.
What would you like to see ideally to help hard working bands / artists get better exposure and opportunities to make a living form their craft?
Here in Portugal, I would like to see people more supportive of local bands, both audiences and promoters. We have a big festival season, and every year the big acts came here and sell out shows with tickets prices skyrocketing. Promoters won’t hesitate booking international bands with huge fees, because they know the public will pay the absurd prices for the tickets, and all will be worthwhile. The percentage of national bands on the bills of the major festivals is less than 10%, nationwide. The promoters don’t book them and the people have no interest in seeing them, and it’s getting worse. A Portuguese concert goer will pay 80$ to see Muse, and another 85$ to go to a festival with multiple bands, but if you book a gig with 3 Portuguese bands in a venue with 300 seat capacity and charge 8$, they won’t go and say it’s too expensive. If there’s anything that need to change, this is it; we have amazing talent in this country, but very few will bother to recognize and support it.
What is the best piece of advice you have received on your journey thus far?
I think it’s more of a realization than an advice; the more you try to please the others, the less they will like you. Please yourself and be true to your nature, and if you work hard enough, the rest will come in due time.
With the music industry always constantly changing – how have you had to adapt to the ever-changing landscape?
The answer is the same; no matter how things change and shift with time, Rock’n’Roll is made to be played live. No revolution in the industry will ever change this, the proof is, with music sales dwindling in all platforms, live music revenue is growing exponentially. Nothing substitutes the thrill of seeing and listening to your favorite artists in the flesh, and I think that will be true forever.
Does the introduction of New Technology / Digital Age / Social Media etc enhance your life as a musician or do you feel it can be more of a hindrance?
In the old days, when record labels have the monopoly of what music was released and promoted, they acted as a filter for creativity, and the few that were signed and released will amass great fan bases and in some cases they would become legends. It was not a very democratic procedure, and we can stop thinking how many awesome bands were left in obscurity back then just because someone A&R guy signed Pink Floyd and not them. On the other hand, this business model tend to aggregate the audiences to fewer artists, and this developed in great music movements throughout history, being that Disco or Grunge. Nowadays, that filter disappeared, and we are flooded with releases from every genre and style, every one of them struggling for the attention of audience and media. This is why people are scattered, and we have niches for almost every one now; we’ve not been witnessing any big musical movements lately, and with the constant background noise of thousands of bands trying to make themselves heard, the public interest is divided and it’s really difficult to stand out and catch the attention. It’s never been easier to have a band and promote it, but it’s never been harder to make people care about it. We’re all trying to puzzle out how to survive this, both bands and audiences, but also the labels, promoters and media.
So moving forward what’s next for you?
We’ve been writing the songs that will become our first album, and we will be in the studio recording it by late August, and hopefully it will be released in the beginning of the next year.
How do you see the evolution of the band or yourself as an artist?
Hopefully we would hone our craft and be better songwriters and storytellers; the better we can do this, the more people will relate with what we are talking about, and that is what will make the band grow.
Do you have any short-term or long-term goals in mind?
We’re already start booking our first European tour starting next January; we have some shows already confirmed and hope to add many more very soon. On a longer term, hopefully with the album released we will be able to expand our horizons, and attract larger audiences. We would love to make this band grow to