I am pleased I get to speak with Vanessa Forero...
again and see what she is up to. She is in Colombia right now so has been talking about that and whether she will be back in the U.K. soon; what the story is regarding her new single, Pablo Escobar, and how the amazing video came together – she highlights a rising act to check out.
I ask whether she gets time to unwind outside of music and which three albums are important to her; if there are going to be any tour dates and whether Forero has any standout memories from her career – she picks a rather cool song to end things with.
Hi, Vanessa. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi, Sam! Great to speak with you again. I’m good, thanks. Currently doing admin in a tree house whist drinking the juice of the fruits of the tree next to me! The papayuela fruit!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Sure! I’m a happy, little; curious, British-Colombian music-making chicka who sounds like…erm…me and I’m not sure who else…! Not helping for a reference here! But, it’s song-based, English words dressed in Colombian, folkloric instruments; inspired by energy…ranging from aggression to the mystical to the sensual.
All the human colours!
Pablo Escobar is your new single. What was the reason for focusing on Escobar through song?
Cliché to say, but it all came in dream! I’ll spare you the dream details but, basically, the next morning I set to completing the story-lyrics behind the tune and through that I got to research and learn about a man I’d only really heard the name of. So, the reason began with curiosity and obedience to inspiration - which came in a dream asking to be born into this dimension; then it became an education and later a message…which you’ll see at the end of the music video.
The animated video was made alongside Malky Currie. How much direction and say did you get regarding the video?
As always with Malky, we did a lot of throwing mud and colours and illustration styles at the wall together initially; then he made a storyboard to sync with the story-lyrics and, because he’s full of creative ideas, he did that in a really creative way - and then we just guided it along together till it got to a place we both loved. This was actually Malky’s first animation, can you believe it!
Your E.P., Fuego, is coming soon. What are the main themes you address on the E.P.?
Well. ‘Fuego’ = fire in Spanish, which is the main theme. Being that it was a regular lyrical metaphor in the songs, but also it was a real energy thread in most of the songs too; whether it’s fire’s aggressive side, sensual side or its uplifting ‘revving up your inner-fires’-type of side.
In terms of compositions and sound, how does it differ from your previous work?
I kept to my ‘no-drum kit’ rule…which makes space for loads of native percussion, shakers; seeds, tribal drums etc. and, in this record, that side is way more evident. It’s all wilder and tribal! For me, I really feel I clicked in my own pocket with this one. It’s definitely more mature, with more energy, wildness; uniqueness, darkness and fierce womanly-ness.
Having Colombian roots, how important is the country and its culture regarding your approach to music and experimentation?
It’s probably been more of a way to limit my curiosity. Because I adore making all styles of music which, luckily, I get to do for the media music job but, since I decided this side of my music would be a personal ‘scoring of myself’…‘Vanessa’ is the movie I’m scoring; then the Colombian side is a big cultural and spiritual ingredient. Besides, the instruments here are so interesting to my ears than the drums, bass and guitar line-up I’ve heard so much of.
Problem is, I can’t really play them as they’re meant to be played, which I think helps in making something unique at least! Colombian instruments played by British fingers but through a Colombian spirit! I’m confused.
You are based in Brighton. How important is the place and people to you when it comes to music?
Well. All my stuff is back there but I got stuck here in Colombia! Six months in…I really should head back soon. I miss my instruments and definitely the friends and music community there, which has been a huge support. With gigs on every corner, every night with no pretentiousness, it's just a great place to simply play for the joy of it. And, along the way, happen to get better as you do. I’m very grateful to that music family back there: great listeners, lovers and supporters of original music.
Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?
So many! I feel grateful to have done the flashy stuff like live videos and a big gig at Abbey Road Studios to being interviewed by a major T.V. show here in Colombia. But my favourite personal moments are always the littler ones. The moment the song and production just clicks in the small, dark hours. Or maybe the gig that me and my ‘feather girls’ did to test the new record songs.
It was expected to be a quiet Thursday night at the local pub but, when we opened the doors, it was a packed-out house of fierce listeners, which totally encouraged us to the roof with the new material we’d kept just to ourselves. A great memory for us wildcats!
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Oh, my. Shameful confession is that I’m so bad at listening to music; I spend so much time making it that, when I’m done in the studio, I just rather listen to the ocean, the trees or an Oprah podcast! But, ok…I’ll try. I’ll say Nick Drake’s Pink Moon for the fragrance around the house; any alt-J record for impressing my brain with their creativity and Colombia’s Toto La Momposina for hearing power, fire and soul come out of a woman.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I feel like I should say an artist that would suit my current style - of which I’m still not sure how to label - but I’m gonna say Tori Amos because I just adore her and I think she’d help make it a wild, musical fem-fest!
Might we see you on tour in 2019?
Well. My head wants to plan a summer tour back in Europe, but I like to ride with the wind and, so far, it’s kept me here for six months and counting! I’d like to but, right now, I’m just starting a new record with a well-known producer here in Colombia, Richard Blair, ho’s also a very good friend so, when that’s recorded at end of spring, I’ll hopefully feel the space to return and tour the new record with my feather girls. I’ll let you know!
Bloody wind hippy.
How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio?
Oh, yes. The studio is my nest: I’m most natural there. Performing costs me but I know it’s an essential part of music. Being that it’s a communicative art! But, I heard Kate Bush and Bowie felt the same so I don’t feel too bad about that. I eventually have fun when I pass the threshold of singing out that first line. Classic introvert problems!
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Arghh, again, lame music listener! I’d make a terrible D.J. So I’m going to big-up my Brighton punk boy pals The Damn Shebang! Check 'em out.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I’m trying to more these days - not been balanced there in the past. So, I’m a recovering music-making obsesser, turned more human through the power of: nut milk! Haha. Coconut milk, almond; hazelnut or a mix. I love it! Also, I’m trying to write the sequel book to one I wrote years ago on my mum’s life but, so far…I just keep making nut milk!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I’d love people to hear Chambacú by Toto La Momposina please, Sam! Thanks for the great questions, as always, and for having me on! Hugs to all from my tree house!
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