Tiago Saga: The Polyglot Musician

Here at Entrelenguas, we´re all looking forward to October 8th. Not only will it be the project´s second birthday, but we will be holding a concert to celebrate, headlining the British singer-songwriter Tiago Saga. Ahead of this exciting event, “Bye Bye Verano”, I had a chat with Tiago about his music, his past and, of course, his languages!

I ask him first about his music, which he calls “Mongrel Folk”. He tells me that he grew up listening to Talking Heads and West African music, starting to write his own songs at the age of 14. “My parents are both artists but not musicians” he adds, “so I guess they always supported me doing something creative and a little different to them.”

Tiago is of British, Spanish and Lebanese heritage, but he grew up in the Portuguese Algarve. His says that his mixed heritage has given him “a very open mind” and that he feels “Portuguese in England and English in Portugal.” He speaks fluent Portuguese and English, as well as good French, Spanish and a little German too. His next challenge is to improve his German and perhaps learn Arabic at some point! Most of his songs are in English though, apart from the bilingual “Green Buttons”. This seems strange for such a prolific polyglot, and I ask him why.

“I guess most of the music I listen to is in English and so I have always found it more natural to sing in English. Portuguese can be hard to sing as it has a lot of strange phonetics but when sung properly, it is beautiful. I sing in Portuguese sometimes and it feels good but I find it easier to express the lyrics in English.”

The lyrics he sings in English are certainly beautiful too, as we´ve found out from playing his music at the school recently.  As well having impressive success as a solo artist, Tiago also sings and writes songs for his Brighton-based band, Time For T. The band has a different sound to Tiago on his own, and I´m curious as to how he differentiates the two.

“I write the songs for the band and then the rest of the members flesh the songs up and sometimes we write a song together from scratch. I love both ways as there is no right formula for writing a good song. Most of my solo songs are songs that don’t fit in the band mould and so I just perform them when I play solo. I also love stripping back the band songs when I play solo, as it’s the way the songs were written in the first place. I like to improvise when I play live too, that keeps me on my toes and sometimes I get some cool ideas as I´m playing in front of people.”

Hopefully our concert here at Entrelenguas will give Tiago some good ideas too! He´s currently finishing Time For T´s debut album in London with the rest of the band. “We have been recording it for a long time and can’t wait to release it next year!

“Apart from that, I have loads of songs that I´m working on in my own time. Some will be for the band and others for my solo project. I have recently moved to Lisbon where I plan to write a whole new album worth of material over the course of this winter.”

We´re looking forward to hearing the new material when it´s ready! For now though, come along to Escuela Entrelenguas on October 8th to enjoy what promises to be a fantastic concert – see you there!

© Escuela Entrelenguas | By Elsa Maishman

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