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Observations on a New Life in Spain

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Partners In Rhyme headquarters

29 May, 2009 (10:58) | Living in Europe | By: admin

Entrance and front office of our new Partners in Rhyme headquarters

Getting a separate studio/office for Partners in Rhyme is a dream we’ve had for decades, ever since we first visited Barcelona 15 years ago. We wanted a loft in Barcelona where we could set up our music studio and run our business out of. Mark was especially keen on the loft idea, though I was less thrilled at the prospect, because being a realist, I knew the only way this would be possible is if we lived in the loft as well, and a life with no walls didn’t appeal to me. But I love Barcelona, and I did share the basic fantasy, because although Partners in Rhyme was just in its formative stages, the multi-media vision we had for ourselves was strong. We were already earning our keep as songwriters for the Disney Channel and also wrote the music and did the sound design for several major TV commercials, but we were doing this through Mark Mothersbaugh (of DEVO fame) and only got 1/5 of the money while his Mutato Musica company made a bundle off our efforts. We started Partners in Rhyme in order to become our own boss and get all the money. Royalty Free was an unheard of concept in late 1995 when our website first went up, and indeed we are credited as being the *first* royalty free music and sound-effects company selling original material on the internet.

Thirteen years later we finally managed to relocate to Barcelona with our dogs and studio. It was 2006 and Partners in Rhyme was earning serious money. We had saved enough to put a substantial down payment on our own place here. However our dream of a separate place to set up our studio and business was pushed to the back burner, as we could definitely not afford to buy two places or even one place big enough to comfortably accommodate our business and a normal life.

The loft we did buy and now live is in Gracia, a fiercely Catalan neighborhood in Barcelona. It is a place that we both love dearly but we had to literally shoe-horn the Partners in Rhyme business into it with us. For over two years Mark’s office was under a stairwell about one meter wide, basically just a small pantry. He shared his space with the packs of spaghetti, the refrigerator, tool boxes and other assorted things that one puts into storage. He enjoyed it because he knew this is what he had to do to live in our dream city. Our music studio was in a very small space as well and had absolutely no privacy which is a problem when trying to be free and open to create music. For me creating music became almost a chore, something to do between the kitchen and the bathroom if I was inspired. I directed my talents more outward, going out into the city to make friends, take photos and videos, record sounds and get my rhythm for the living of life in Barcelona.

So late in March, when we saw the liquidation sign go up in the store next door a little light turned on inside us and we somehow deep down knew that we would be moving in there. Once we had decided this everything seemed to fall into place. We went in and asked the people in the store why they were moving.
“Porque la crisis”, was their reply. They had been selling uniforms, helmets and gloves to workers for over 30 years, but with the recession and mass lay-offs there were no new workers to buy their products.

We offered our condolences, then asked if the space might be available. They said yes. We asked them how much they paid, they said “380 Euros cada mes”. Mark asked them the price probably four more times to make sure he was hearing correctly.

Susana, the lady next door, took up our cause and started calling the building administrators to say there were people interested that wanted to move in as soon as the place was vacant. The administrators took their time in replying (as is the Spanish way) and finally did so with an affirmative answer. We asked what the price for rent would be now, expecting it to be raised out of our limit because the previous tenants had been paying 380 Euros a month for 9 years in that spot, and since then the neighborhood of Gracia has become very trendy. The answer was 400 euros a month. They raised the rent by only 20 Euros a month after being locked into a 380 euro a month contract for 10 years. The gods were definitely on our side and we signed the papers, got the keys and moved in on May 1.


BEFORE/AFTER shots of our new store next door to our home. We live where you see the small tree (and red motorcycle).

BEFORE – the uniform, helmets and glove shot shop next door was called CLIMAX. After over 35 years it went out of business last month due to the global crisis. AFTER – Partners In Rhyme takes advantage and moves right in.

One of the reasons Mark really wanted to separate work and life is that he was feeling sequestered and not part of the community by sitting in his pantry/cubicle for 10 hours a day working at the computer. Now he sits with his desk facing out to the street. Neighbors and strangers stop by constantly. He is speaking a lot more Spanish on a daily basis and feels much more connected to our neighbors.

Neighbors offering help and opinions. Also, Joachima the little old lady across the street observes from her balcony as the sign goes up.

We have stepped up quite a few rungs on the ladder of respect in our barrio by taking over the space next door to us.

We are still putting together the studio in its new location and are excited at the prospect of having a nice big private space to be creative again.

1) Mark’s new front office. 2) The green screen filming set for future short films (cortos) combined with PIR behind the scenes office printers, supplies, books.

1) My own personal space at long last! Easel, hats, manequins, room for explosive visual and mulsti-media projects at last! 2) Plus the back music room which is still in the process of being set up.

One day later – the studio is now set up!

The above shots are of the interior of our shop. The front room is where Mark works, the next room with the green curtain is where we can film videos and also is a back office for files and office related things. The next room, obviously, is MY space with the hat and easel… I still have to buy canvass and paints and brushes etc. but at least I have my own space to paint in now. Until this month it was impossible for me. The back room is the music studio, which we are still hooking up. We have a futon couch/bed arriving on Tuesday for that room. Obviously, the only room somewhat decorated it the one with my hats, but that will change in the near future and I will post and update blog when we have a grand opening and invite all our friends.

The following thumbnails are of the big day we put up our new sign, designed by our friend Pepòn and produced by our friend Sara and her cousin Marco: