Life On The Road / 30 August 2021

Soul Mountain: The Second Climb

What do you do after you perform on top of the world? You find the next mountain peak to do it all over again.

In our last feature, Jordi Mestre shared his story and how he’s combined his passion for music and the great outdoors into one beautiful project — Soul Mountain.

We catch up with Jordi again after his second, more technical ascent with his guitar and of course, his MONO Vertigo.

Tell us more about this climb. Why is this mountain special to you?

I chose Montarto for a very easy reason, it perhaps is the mountain with the most sentimental value for me. It was the first major peak I climbed with my father, back when I was six years old. Obviously, back then, we went through an easier route than the one we picked for our last video!

Photography by Jordi Rulló.

Every time we shoot a video I try to find a challenge to overcome, and Montarto offered us the chance to go down its north face skiing, which I had never done until then. The north face also offers a fantastic view, one of the most beautiful in the Pyrenees.

Musically speaking, I wanted to make the most out of the feelings and emotions Montarto evokes in me, and blend them with the energy and the adrenaline of this new challenge.

What challenges did you face in this climb that was different from your first climb?

Although Montarto is not as high in altitude as Mulleres, the climb and the descent are not necessarily easier. For our first video, we wanted a peak that would not present us with very technical challenges, seeing as it would be my first time climbing up a 3000m mountain with an electric guitar and skis strapped to my back. I didn’t know how I would respond to this physically.

Photography by Jordi Rulló.

I was also not sure how the MONO Vertigo would perform under these conditions. We had to try a lot of different things so we wanted to be a bit conservative.

After the first video shoot, we thought we did really well going through 1800m of elevation gain carrying all the gear we needed and so the Soul Mountain team decided that we could be a bit more ambitious with our next challenge.

Photography by Jordi Rulló.

At Montarto, we had to climb up narrow corridors with very steep slopes, where we had to use a rope for safety. We climbed and crossed a fairly aerial ridge, rappelled down walls on a couple of occasions, and as I mentioned before, we skied down the north face (which presented multiple vertical stretches where a fall could be very dangerous).

Keep in mind I was carrying my guitar and skis, Roger (our mountain guide) took care of hauling the amplifier and all the climbing equipment we needed, and Jordi (our cameraman) was carrying the filming gear while also recording and keeping an eye out for pretty shots and angles. Sounds crazy just to think about it!

The MONO Vertigo also exceeded all expectations. Thanks to a few simple modifications, I managed to overcome all the challenges I was presented with comfortably, with the case adapting to my movements like a mountain backpack and knowing that my guitar was protected at all times.

There is no “music without the video” or “video without the music” as they would be incomplete parts.

Jordi Mestre

You shared about how the mountains are helping you find your sound. How would you describe your sound now?

I have been studying music for many years and in each video, there is a small contribution from everything I have learned after it’s gone through my internal assimilation.

My main influences come from African-American music, but I think Soul Mountain goes beyond that as the mountains and nature itself are also becoming a major influence.

Photography by Jordi Rulló.

When I sit down to compose a song for Soul Mountain, I have to keep in mind that it’ll go together with a video and it has to work well with it. There is no “music without the video” or “video without the music” as they would be incomplete parts. This means I have to be very careful with aspects like sound, harmony, melody and rhythm. I work very deeply on my instrument and my musicality.

Soul Mountain has allowed me to discover new voicings, grooves, and sounds in general. Creating an instrumental song with just my guitar, having the mountaineering video in mind and also trying to convey the emotions I want to reflect is not an easy job at all — it goes beyond crazy! But challenges are ultimately what make us grow and learn. Every mountain we choose is a new musical challenge, and that’s also what makes it beautiful.

Photography by Jordi Rulló.

I’m doing all this with the aim to have very different music and sounds in each recording, but at the same time still remain recognizable. I want people to identify these songs as “Jordi Mestre’s guitar in his mountains”.

Watch the climb up Montarto here:

Find out more about Jordi Mestre and the Soul Mountain project at: www.soulmountain.cat

All photography by Jordi Rulló, the audio and visual producer for the Soul Mountain project.


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