Alaska

Alaska
b. 1963, Mexico
   Singer
   At the age of 14 Olvido Gara became the first punk girl in Spain to leap onto the stage, dressed in a leopard skin suit holding a guitar. As her real name did not possess sufficient glamour for the would-be star, she renamed herself Alaska after a song by Lou Reed. Alaska made her début in Kaka de Luxe which managed to record an EP; the group consisted of six other musicians who would go on to form some of the most acclaimed bands of new Spanish pop.
   Her next group was Alaska y los Pegamoides, in which Olvido began as a guitarist. Shortly afterwards she exchanged her arrow-shaped guitar for a microphone, and sang her first single "Horror en el Hipermercado" (Horror in the Hypermarket), redolent of the recurrent themes of her long career: narratives of everyday domestic life, combined with references to film, television, comics and science fiction. Her original look and innovative ideas carved her a prominent place in the flourishing Spanish music scene.
   Alaska acted in Pedro Almodóvar's first film: Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón (Pepi, Luci, Bom and All Those Other Girls), adding a touch of youthful rebellion as one of the three female protagonists.
   The first and only LP recorded by Alaska y los Pegamoides had the audacious title Grandes Éxitos (Greatest Hits), and in it they combined different pop music formulas, written by the two composers who have worked with Alaska throughout her career: Carlos Berlanga and Nacho Canut. Personal differences between members of the group caused it to split up, and Alaska went on to form Alaska y Dinarama with Berlanga and Canut. With Dinarama Alaska reached the summit of her career: the group went to number one in Spain in 1984 with the record Deseo carnal (Carnal Desire), they triumphed in Latin America, they organized huge tours. Alaska became a celebrity; she presented television programmes, made com-mercials, wrote articles in the press and was frequently invited on to chat shows as the mouth-piece of popular culture. Her last record with Dinarama, Fan Fatal (Fatal Fan), came out when acid-house music hit. More changes in the line up followed and in 1989 Alaska, together with Nacho Canut, created Fangoria, their definitive techno-pop project, with more introspective lyrics. Through Fangoria Alaska has developed ideas which hark back to the under-ground/cult scene. Fangoria has its own fan club which produces a fanzine, they have a studio where they can record whenever they wish to do so, they play at concerts they organize themselves; in other words they have complete control of their work, independent of the pressures of record companies. In this way Fangoria has managed to retain what many of their contemporaries have lost: public credibility.
   See also: Movida, la; rock and pop
   FERNANDO DELGADO

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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