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When word spread around Barcelona last June that Woody Allen was in town shooting a new film, hopeful musicians descended upon his hotel with their latest demos. But only one band, Giulia y Los Tellarini, scored a spot on the soundtrack of Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” recording the movie’s opening and closing songs “Barcelona” and “La Ley de Retiro” (“The Law of Retirement”).
“I was coming out of my hotel room one day and I see this CD in my post and take it — which I never do,” recalls Allen, who attended the film’s premiere during the Cannes Film Festival in May. “I heard the first song, and said, ‘That’s it, that’s going to be the opening track.’ And it says the word Barcelona many times.”
Giulia Tellarini, the 29-year-old Franco-Italian lead singer, wasn’t even aware her guitarist Mike Allemany had dropped off an unmastered tape. “Personally, I thought it was a joke,” confesses Tellarini, who had penned the track “in five minutes” during her first year living in Barcelona in 2006. “It was about my relationship with the city, what it provoked. It’s a space where you can’t get your ideas clear. As the last line of the song says, ‘Only if I’m away, can I tell you that I love you.’”
After finishing the track, Tellarini returned temporarily to her pint-size apartment in Paris before purchasing a caravan with her partner Alejandro Mazzoni, who composes the group’s music, and setting off to roam fishing villages in northern Spain. “Since I was a child, I had always wanted to live in a caravan but couldn’t because I failed my driving license five times,” Tellarini says.
Having settled in Berlin last fall, Tellarini now teaches French by day and performs cabaret covers in her free time. “I take an amplifier to the flea markets and sing in the street,” says the singer, who frequently will pair homemade tiaras, embellished with a long black feather and a red rose, with a vintage all-black ensemble. “A dress must have a story,” she adds.
But for practical reasons, Tellarini tends to dump her wardrobe each time she moves. “One time I was flying to Barcelona and my bag was badly overweight so I dressed all the girls in the queue in my clothes,” she says. “It’s tough maintaining a wardrobe when you’re traveling.”
In tune with her nomadic ways, the group’s inspirations, she says, come from far and wide — from Mazzoni’s native Argentinian influences to Catalonia and the Canary Islands. Next month, Tellarini will perform a concert of Edith Piaf covers in a “freaky” shopping center in former East Berlin, accompanied by a classical orchestra of “70-year-old musicians,” and then return to Barcelona in September to promote the album release.
For now, Tellarini, who has never met any of Allen’s team in person, says she feels strangely removed from “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” which opens in the U.S. Aug. 15. “I see it as so far from me. I’ll be thrilled if the publicity means me being able to make more music and meet other musicians,” says Tellarini. “But these days you can so easily [become a hit] and then be forgotten.”