Your new video for 'Samba In My Bones' is to be premiered online at Female First - how was the experience of creating that film?
Well, first of all it's all been possible thanks to Sarastro, the most flamboyant restaurant you will come across with in Covent Garden. I perform there with my Latin Trio every Friday, we recorded the video there, and they sponsored the whole thing, they have become part of my family. I had this idea of recreating a masquerade party, as I thought it suited the venue perfectly, and Anda Teglas, the director, captured our ideas straight away. Then we rehearsed the choreography, we prepared the extras, the male model, costumes, etc, and voila! Everyone had a good time. This is a chilled samba-pop to make people feel happy as they dance.
It's the title track and lead single from your new album - tell us about the creative process behind that record.
The single, 'Samba In My Bones' was co-written by myself and my singer friend Samantha Williams, with whom I shared stage while being part of the pop-opera group Milan. After we left the band we started a little duo together and we co-wrote a few tunes. When I released my first album I told her I wanted this tune to go in my album, and so it happened! I arranged it, and then producers Natema gave it the magic touch. The other songs in the album are all written and arranged by myself, and I have amazing musicians playing on it, for example Xantone Blacq (Amy Winehouse), Dominic Grant (Courtney Pine) or Steve Richardson (Shirley Bassey, Spice Girls...). If you ask me about the creative process behind every song it's gonna fill many pages of your mag, you don't want to go there now! (laughs)
Your new album follows your debut LP 'Now It Is Me' - how did you find the response to that record?
I didn't have any company behind me at the time I released 'Now It Is Me', I did it all on my own, from taking care of the videos, to the music production, the musicians, the clothes, the artwork, and then the PR, the gigs... you name it.
Graciela was behind the whole thing (hence the title: 'Now It Is Me'). It doesn't mean that now that I have a manager and a PR company I am not behind... I have to be even more! (laughs).
The thing is, when you have a 'baby', like my music is to me, and it's all you have, you want to make sure nobody is going to spoil things. When Julius (my manager) came on board, we had an American company who took care of the distribution, but it didn't go too well, so I left that company. People like the songs, I think it makes them feel happy, and that's all that matters.
What would you note as some of your favourite experiences in your career to-date?
My absolutely favourite experience was the tour and rehearsals we did with Bjork back in 1999-2000. I was selected to be part of a choir called Voices Of Europe, and we toured a few European countries. Sharing musical time with Bjork, and with all these directors and singers from all these countries, was definitely an out-of-this-world experience. There were many "revelations". When you sing in harmony with other voices, those frequencies that invade your inner self, take you to the place of truth. Music is the language of truth.
Going forward, if you could work with or collaborate with anybody, who would you choose and why?
Instead of going forward I would go backwards and work with Bjork again, but this time on a one-to-one basis. She is a visionary. I like to work with people who have a broad vision beyond the material. Sound is the language of the blind, so people who can 'see' with their ears and with their emotions (because emotions, like sound, are also frequencies) rather than with the trends and fashions, are always worth.
Right now I am also into the Daft Punk guys, the way they fuse funk and disco... is good! But I am also into fado music... it's in my roots, so I feel it very deeply.
At what point did you realise music was a career you wanted to chase and an industry you wanted to be a part of?
As far as I remember, I always knew I wanted to be a singer. I don't remember myself as wanting to be anything else. Well, I had a phase when I studied telecommunications engineering, but my ultimate goal with that was to give a concert in the moon (I'm not joking), the only thing was that, although with Physics I was quite good, Maths was not my strongest subject, so I quit.
I never thought of 'being part of the industry', all I wanted to do was singing and making music. So I studied and studied and studied music. My family were always supportive of my dreams, that's a very important part I need to mention.
How difficult would you say it is to carve your way in this business?
I think you mean to say "how difficult it is to make money in this business?", yeah? (laughs) As I said, I am not in this for the business. I am who I am. And I cannot be anything else. I just do what comes from the inside. Now, whether that generates money or not... you have to go with the flow and sometimes it's good and sometimes it's not so good. You learn the tricks of the trade as you go, and other times you are constantly surprised. The main thing is you have to be yourself and the universe will do the rest. I always say that we all have a purpose and a duty in this life, we have to follow our instincts. If everyone did the same, the world would be a better place.
How important is it for you to have creative control over the work you produce?
Extremely important. Otherwise it wouldn't be my music, it would be someone else's. As I said, I always write all the arrangements, the style, the groove, the instruments, the melody, the harmony, the lyrics. And once I finish a song, and I live with it for a while, I know very well the message it needs to deliver. So when I bring in the musicians, producers or mixing engineers, I always give them indications and work hand in hand with them. There is also an element of 'trust' here, and the final result isn't always going to be 'exactly' as you envisioned it, you have to embrace the musicality of the musicians too. Eventually you have to compromise a little bit.
You'll now be recording an EP in Spanish - will this be new music or tracks you've done in English re-recorded?
The EP has 6 songs, 5 of them are versions in Spanish of previously released songs, and there's a brand new song which features a bagpipe player. The bagpipe is the traditional instrument of Galicia, the part where I come from in Spain. It is important for me to blend dance beats and electronic sounds with real instruments. The bagpipe takes me to my roots, and it had to be included in this particular song. One of the songs is sung in Galician, my mother tongue. The album is entitled 'Ahora Soy Yo' (now it is me) and it will be released on April 1st.
What other projects have you got going on that you can share some details about?
There are two videos in production which are going to come out to promote the Spanish EP. I am also in the final stages of production of my brand new album, which will be out sometime this summer. It is an evolution from 'Samba In My Bones', to the place where I am now personally and artistically. It's much more electronic, with a dance approach. And I can't reveal more at this stage!
Finally, what should those coming to your show at The Library Members Club in Leicester Square this March expect?
Well, of course you'll get to see the video of 'Samba In My Bones', and there'll be a performance not to be missed!