Guillermo Rodríguez (Alicante, 1994), better known as Arkanohas been on stage since he was a teenager. The man from Alicante became the 2015 international champion of the Red Bull Battle of Gallos. From that moment his fame grew like foam.
In 2017 he released his first studio album, Bioluminescence, with hits like Spoiled Child, Head Held High either Last Play. Now, five years later, Arkano releases his second LP: Match.
The artist opens himself completely to the public in this new work, talking about his insecurities and his fears. Arkano shows his light and his dark, showing that he has no problem showing all sides of himself. To talk about Match, Arkano has come to the LOS40 studios.
LOS40: It’s taken you five years to release a new album. It was in 2017 when you released Bioluminescence, why so long?
Arkane: I didn’t need it. I had no personal need or demand from anyone. It has been a very natural process of creating songs little by little and perfecting them. I think that’s what’s caused it to take so long.
LOS40: There will be songs that have been written for a long time then.
Arkane: Yes. The Rómpelo one, which is the last single that came out, I started writing it years ago. Maybe five years ago.
LOS40: You will have changed several things about the lyrics in all this time.
Arkane: That’s it. That’s why I’ve taken so long, changing and polishing the songs. With different producers and studios. There have been several songs that have fallen off the album and others that have entered. The oldest one there is Where were you. At the style level, I’m not so convinced, things as they are, but at the content level, yes. It is a conversation I have with God. I thought about the things I would say to him. It seems to me a theme that I really like on a lyrical level. It is one of the few things so old that I have kept.
LOS40: Do you talk a lot with God?
Arkane: No, no… I think that was my only conversation with God. To tell him where you were.
LOS40: Does spirituality stay elsewhere?
Arkane: Yes, perhaps I have had a path of spirituality that has not gone through religion. I think that since I began to connect with psychology, I began to see that what I called spirituality were psychological mechanisms seasoned with mysticism.
LOS40: It’s true that on this album you talk a lot about the importance of mental health and your sessions with the psychologist. At what point did your chip change?
Arkane: I have been going to therapy since 2016. I started going to prepare for my Guinness record. The goal was to have emotional tools to face spending 24 hours freestyle. In the end we talked about everything except that. I saw how important it was. One of the missions of my album is to show those realities of me. One of my messages is that we are all crazy. The sooner we are aware of it, the better. I talk about my darkness and my visits to therapy. I think it is necessary.
LOS40: You also talk about the quarantine. In one of the songs you say “In quarantine I almost became an alcoholic” (Stronger than ever), did you escape into alcohol?
Arkane: Yes, my battle with alcohol is eternal. I am now at a point in my life where I am away from alcohol. Is my objetive. It is something that has been difficult to manage for me. In quarantine it went much further. If you manage to reach a middle ground, fine. But I have had to leave it to the letter. Since I was a teenager I have associated leisure with drinking alcohol. It is a very quick shortcut to escape from awkward situations. I speak for myself. I have become very intolerant of social awkwardness. That has made me throw alcohol quite a lot. Put life in easy mode. Now I’m working on that: dealing with discomfort and embarrassment. Understand that life is not a game all the time.
I have become very intolerant of social awkwardness
LOS40: I’m surprised you say you have little tolerance for social awkwardness when you’ve been in this world for so many years.
Arkane: I’m still very uncomfortable. One of my missions is to see which wheel has to turn at each moment. There are moments when I arrive very insecure and I am having a very bad time. Although you can’t see it, a lot of things are going on in my head. There are other times that I have arrived active and strong at the top. I’m going like a bulldozer.
LOS40: Why Match for the album name?
Arkane: I think it is the point of union of all these issues. Each of them goes to a different place, both conceptually and musically. I show different parts of myself. All those artists of my person come together and give rise to a project. That is the Match.
LOS40: Do you feel more comfortable than on your first album with what you’re telling?
Arkane: I don’t remember how I felt on my first album, but on this one I feel very comfortable. I told a colleague how proud I am of this record. It’s nice to release material with your head held high.
LOS40: Has there been a personal evolution until you get to show these different facets of your Match?
Arkane: In Bioluminescence he showed all that part full of light, but he followed an inertia of how he had been educated. That happy and constructive part. Now I have dared to show that darker part, but it is necessary. You have to normalize showing that. Over the years you understand that this is healthy.
LOS40: What has been the most difficult song to write on an emotional level?
Arkane: I’d say it was Purge. I’m talking about a breakup. I go very deep. On an artistic level I also gave it a lot of thought. It’s the lyrics I’m most proud of.
LOS40: Is it more complicated to write from rage and heartbreak?
Arkane: No. It is not more complicated. Perhaps going deeper into the pain and reaching the initial motor of the pain does make it easier, but when you pull the thread and come to understand what is happening to you, it is more painful..
LOS40: In many of your interviews you have talked about how you have deconstructed yourself during these years, leaving behind some rhymes that could be macho from your beginnings, how did you get to this moment?
Arkane: It has been a very natural process. As my social consciousness has evolved in different aspects, my discourse has changed. Both in interviews and in songs, I try to reflect who I am. There is nothing imposed in any sense. It has been an evolution. It happens to all of us, we see images, comments and messages and we say ‘my mother, what I thought’. If I think about my first rhymes… But it also seems nice and hopeful. If there is hope for me, there is for many more people.
If there is hope for me, there is for many more people
About his time at MasterChef
LOS40: I don’t know if you’re following the new edition of MasterChef Celebrity.
Arkane: No, I’m not seeing it, the truth (laughs).
LOS40: In the end you came from the world of freestyle, what balance do you get from going through a format like this?
Arkane: Very cool. I am motivated and when I face a new challenge I get to it. When I was going to enter, I canceled everything I had. Luckily I was able to stop everything and got fully into the kitchen. I started working with a teacher and studying recipes. It was like a video game. It was a very cool stage. At times it was hard, because you don’t stop competing and it’s a program that demands a lot. But it is a very cool experience.
LOS40: Would you repeat in a talent of this type?
Arkane: Yes, it depends on which one. But something like that, of course.
LOS40: Do you still have a relationship between your colleagues?
Arkane: We have a WhatsApp group and we discuss things. Today I am going to see Eduardo Navarrete. He comes to the presentation party for my album, which we celebrate in Malasaña. I also talk a lot with Julian Jansen.
LOS40: Would you see yourself doing cockfights again?
Arkane: No. Look, they make me want to. When I’m doing sports, with dopamine high, I imagine myself there. I see and I love it. But then I make a balance of pros and cons and for my mental health no.
LOS40: Sure, from home it looks very easy, but then put yourself there. It is a lot of pressure that you have already lived.
Arkane: Of course, there are many factors that influence. I think I wouldn’t enjoy it. When you do not enjoy an exercise it is difficult for it to be productive. There can be enjoyment from pain, sorrow and anger, but if it is from the middle, nothing comes out. In my last time of battles I had more fear than joy. So it’s not my place at the moment.
In my last time of battles I had more fear than joy.
LOS40: Was there that pressure of having reached the top?
Arkano: There were many things. There was fear. Every time I had more of a public face outside of freestyle, which later affected me in the battles. Your rivals try to find your weak points and they will drop them on you. I felt that I was going to justify my career. It was not a duel of wits. I felt that they were more personal. They were things that I did not feel like managing at that time. Also before there were two battles a year and now they are every week. All of this influences your performance.
LOS40: In the current scene, do you have any favourites?
Arkane: blond. For me, Blon. He is a machine, he has been there for many years and I love the culture he has. He deserved to be champion this year.
LOS40: What challenges do you have left to achieve at a professional level?
Arkano: I’d love to act. I would love to do something. With all the respect in the world to the actors and actresses. If possible, I would love to be able to act in an audiovisual project. I hope it happens.