Spanish Señorita, Singer, Songwriter, and Graphic Designer Keila Olmo Sanchez, Opens up about Catalonia, Faith and Travel
Keila Olmo Sanchez is a originally from Spain but she is a citizen of the world, travelling to various cities in a year. She's a creative, a graphic designer and muscisian with a heart for the Lord.
Enjoy this interview with Keila:
Seele Magazine: What was it like growing up in Barcelona?
Keila Olmo Sanchez: Similar to growing up in London, I guess. Barcelona is a big city and you can’t ever get bored! I did spend a lot of time in the mountains though. My grandparents had a house near Montserrat and my parents later bought a cabin in the Pyrenees, so I went to school and studied music in the city but then spent my weekends and holidays far away from the city smoke! But I guess that growing up in Barcelona opens your eyes in a lot of ways. It is indeed a very international city, with a lot of opportunities and of course a huge artistic influence.
SM: What makes Catalonia different from any other part of Spain?
KOS: You can compare it with Scotland and England more or less. Many years ago, Catalonia wasn’t really part of Spain. We have a different language and different traditions too, but of course we also speak Spanish and nowadays I guess most people are a “mix” of both cultures (the Spanish and the Catalan). A lot of our family members come from different parts of Spain because a lot of the population moved to cities like Barcelona looking for a job.
SM: Do you have any thoughts on the recent issues plaguing Spain regarding the October referendum of Catalonia separating from Spain?
KOS: Buuuff…. To be honest I hate hate hate politics and I love love love people and different cultures. I’m not a fan of country borders! And I don’t like seeing people from the same family or even the same church getting mad at each other just for a different politic view. And regarding to the events happening in the last few days… well I am quite disappointed with both parts (the Spanish and the Catalan), I think there hasn’t been enough dialogue but there has been a lot of stubbornness from all the leaders. So for the moment there is a lot of uncertainty of what will happen with the issue of Catalonia - Spain.
SM: How did you feel about the summer terrorist attack in Barcelona? How does your faith help you to cope with mass atrocities?
KOS: I think the attack in les Rambles will be something that all the Catalans will always remember. I was in summer camp at that moment and I remember we stopped everything we were doing and we just prayed, while checking the news on our phones. I think Europe in general feels more insecure due to all these past attacks… but I think christians can do so much during these times. Having faith doesn’t take away the pain, but it does give hope and light in the darkness.
Being an Artist-
SM: When did you first realize that your calling was to be an artist?
KOS: I think I could never really escape from being an artist, haha. For a long time I didn’t know it was my “calling”, but since I was a little girl I remember spending soooo much time drawing, writing stories, coming up with songs, theatre plays… and daydreaming too much in school, haha. When I was 23, I left Germany to do an arts DTS with YWAM, and that was the first time I realized it could indeed be a calling and a thing God was telling me to do.
SM: For those who feel they are supposed to be a doctor, lawyer or work in an office, but want to be an artist, what is your advice to them?
KOS: My dad is a doctor and my mum a speech therapist and audiologist, so I always felt like the black sheep of the family, like I had to study something “real,” but when the time came, my parents encouraged me to take an arts path, because they knew I would have been so miserable becoming a doctor or a lawyer! But of course, I think you can be a doctor and be an artist at the same time! My dad use to write songs and play guitar, and my mum was a piano teacher too and she enjoys painting and crafts.
SM: The Bible is full of artists. God is an artist. He with the Son and Holy Spirit created and designed the earth. It says in Zephaniah 3:17 that He is a singer too. Artists play a big role in the Old Testament in designing the Ark of the Covenant, in King Solomon leading the design of the temple, to David being a gifted poet and songwriter. Jesus was a carpenter.
What does all this say about the importance of artisans to God? How does this make you feel when you spent a part of your childhood trying to be “interested in more normal professions?”
KOS: Oh gosh… If I could talk to my younger self I would tell her to just go for it. Just grow as an artist, study graphic design and illustration (even if at that time it's not a recognized degree).
If you want, no matter what your parents or other people say. You are going to do it anyway haha, but if I could go back in time I would begin earlier! I grew up in a very conservative church too, so artists were the weird ones in church! As I grew up and started reading the Bible more and taking my faith more seriously I started seeing how important artists are and have been to God! And then my DTS (Discipleship Training School) in Germany helped me to confirm everything and just accept that I wanted to be an artist in the kingdom of God.
SM: In all the places you’ve traveled, what have you taken away from the cultures? Do you see the world differently?
KOS: Yeah, definitely! Traveling opens your eyes, challenges, and makes your faith grow, and makes you grow soooo much as an artist. In my case, as a musician, working with songwriters and musicians from different countries gives you new sounds and new stories to write! A lot of the songs I wrote in the past 4 years have been about people I’ve met during these trips! And as an Illustrator, it gives you a lot of inspiration! Every place has different colors, different scenarios and sights, and different art museums and artists that you can learn from.
SM: Where is one place you’re dying to visit?
KOS: I have been in so many places: Africa (Burkina Faso and Ethiopia), the States (Florida, Minnesota, California, Colorado…), Mexico, England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany, Greece, Moldova, Romania… and I guess I’m always “dying” to visit all these places again to be able to see friends I haven’t seen in a long time! Right now I’m on a train on my way to Ensenada, Mexico, where I’ll spend a month working with artists in a church and on my way back to Spain I’ll stop in London to visit a couple of friends, so right now I’m really looking forward to that!
SM: What kind of band is PapelMache?
KOS: It’s a happy folk band that started in Barcelona. Currently it has 6 members and we sing in Spanish, Catalan and English.
SM: What’s it like leading a band? What’s the hardest part and easiest part about leading a band?
KOS: I never thought I would end up leading a band. It all started with a group of friends having pizza and playing music on Friday nights. The easiest part? Well, my band is my family, my friends, so it’s not a very complicated thing. Playing with them brings a lot of joy and fun times always… but at the same time this is the hardest part! Haha! They are my family and closest friends and when I don’t agree with something or we argue it’s hard for everyone. We have been playing together for 10 years now, and some people have been there since the beginning, and others not.
People grow up, get married, move away… and you have to understand that not everyone plans to stay in this band forever. I’m currently working on a new project, and may release a solo EP, as an experiment! Let’s see how it goes! The band has encouraged me to do it, because as time passes, it gets harder for everyone to travel if you wanna go on tour or you wanna do concerts or radio interviews… people have their jobs and their families, so it would be easier for me to be a songwriter with different musicians. But we’ll see! It’s a new adventure!
SM: When you hear the name Jesus, what comes to mind?
KOS: Friend, love, and also shepherd. My favorite Psalm is the 23rd one. It’s the first part of the Bible that I memorized and the mountain is my comfort zone, haha! So, I love to see Jesus as my shepherd!