SXSW Entry #9: Natalia Lafourcade, LA ENTREVISTA

Photos by Daniela E. Galindo

A lot of us already know that Natalia Lafourcade will soon release the highly anticipated follow-up to Hu Hu Hu. But, up until a few weeks ago, basic details about the record felt like a complete mystery. Luckily, Club Fonograma got a chance to speak with Lafourcade about the new album following her outdoor presentation (a day performance of Torreblanca & Amigas) at Auditorium Shores. Many thanks to Lafourcade for the interview (and for the nice words about the blog) and to her manager for making it all possible.

Giovanni Guillén: How would you describe this new record?

Natalia Lafourcade: This album is going to be very different from the other ones. It’s a covers album. It’s a tribute for this artist and composer, Augustín Lara. Augustín is the inspiration for the record. And also, the artists who are collaborating with me because every artist had something to do with the way the songs sound. I have a collaborator on every song, mostly male singers.

GG: With these collaborations, would you say you're continuing to produce–like what you did with Carla Morrison and Ximena Sariñana?

NF: Yeah, I love it. I love producing people. Probably as much as I love singing and being on the stage. And it’s a thing that I just started to do, like, a year ago with Carla and Ximena. I don’t think I would do it with a project I don’t really like because you put a lot of energy–you have to focus. (Like) when we finished Carla Morrison’s first album, I was so emotionally involved that at the end I was exhausted! But in a good way. It’s just because I’m like that. I’m very passionate about things that I like.

GG: Do you know what kind of producer you are?

NF: I don’t know if I consider myself a producer yet. I love producing people but I don’t know how to do it. I just go in and tell them my opinion. I have a good team with my engineers, my studio, and some other friends and musicians that will help make the song. I remember when I was making my first album, I had this difficult time with the producers. It’s very difficult when you, as an artist, want to do something with the sound, and then the producer has another vision and they don’t let you go where you want to go. And I think that, I mean, I don’t know how to produce but my intuition tells me that you have to let the artist go where the artist needs to go. That way you build the perfect environment. To get it there, to get it right, in the end, it’s their album, not mine. When I worked with Ximena and Carla I was just giving my opinion. We could do this or go there but, in the end, the decision was taken by them.

GG: You mentioned Augustín Lara, and I know you performed at the Bicentenario. It seems to me that lately you're getting more in touch with your Mexican roots.

NF: Yeah, definitely

GG: What inspired that?

NF: The Bicentenario. Totally. Before I was more like, “Oh, yes. I want to go out of my country."

GG: Places like Canada?

NF: Well actually, Canada is a part of my heart. Definitely. I need to go back to Canada and be there for a while because I miss it a lot. But, when I was working with Alondra de la Parra on the Bicentenario, on the show, she told me, "You should go and reach some composers and writers–Mexican writers. Not just, like, José Alfredo Jiménez, the ones we all know. You should go and reach for someone that you don’t know and see if you can find a song that you want to sing." And then I went on the Internet, on YouTube, and I started searching names and I ran into Augustín Lara. I heard all the songs from the past that we know, but I also started listening to the songs that I didn’t know and I fell in love. Especially with the way he used to write. I was like, "Wow! This is so amazing!" The music, the harmonies, the lyrics, the poetry. And I was so impressed that we had that talent in our country. I also wondered if the people my age would know his music and his compositions.

GG: So, you're also trying to introduce him to another generation?

NF: Definitely. I wanted to do another thing–working on a covers project–but I didn’t want to do just any covers. I was actually thinking about Violeta Parra. La Chilena. But I also wanted to expose something from Mexico. So, when I ran into Augustín’s stuff I fell in love. Hopefully there will be someone who'll feel connected the same way that I did.

GG: I know that Augustín Lara composed a lot for films, is that something you want to do? Soundtracks and movie scores? For me, Las 4 estaciones del amor sounds like a movie soundtrack.

NF: I hope one day I can definitely do that. I imagine myself living in a small cabin in the fields, taking care of children and making music for movies, you know? (Laughs).

GG: But then where would you perform?!

NF: Well, I love performing too. But it’s in my list of dreams. It’s something that I love. To me, music, the images, and all of that come together. When I’m writing, I’m also imagining a video to the song, I’m thinking about the images. Also, when I build the concept. I guess it all comes together and, eventually, I see myself working on soundtracks.

GG: Your last album, Hu Hu Hu, was full of organic sounds. But then there was this b-side, "Lluvia que cae," which featured electronic music. Is that also something you want to experiment more with?

NF: Yeah, probably yes. Especially now I feel like I want to go there. It’s funny because this new album doesn’t have that at all–it still has this organic thing that was in Hu Hu Hu. It's as if Augustín Lara and I would’ve sat together and written the songs. It's very pretty.