The New York Times described her as a “songwriter with a literary streak in her lyric sand a finely calibrated balance of vintage and new sounds in her music.” Natalia Lafourcade has been in the entertainment business since she was 14, but it is with her latest album that she has turned into a leading Latina singer-songwriter. The recording earned her 5 Latin Grammys in 2015 including Best Alternative Music Album, and sold 100,000 in her native Mexico alone.We had the chance to interview Lafourcade exclusively during her U.S. tour, and she talked to us about the freedom she found inside herself.
Your last album was a tribute to Agustín Lara. Tell us what makes “Hasta la raíz” different from your previous work.
This is the first album in which I gave myself an opportunity to look inward. I told myself:“That’s it—I’m not wearing any costumes or any masks.” I wanted to do something autobiographical, almost like my first album.The material came from a breakup, after which I went back to writing songs. It’s a vulnerable album, very real. I wasn’t trying to do anything, just connect with people’s hearts.I tried to find truth through my lyrics. I think that I have been able to include that energy in the album and that people will be able to perceive it.
Do you feel like you were wearing a mask in the past?
I have had weird moments in my career, and surely they won’t be the last ones. In life, you take risks and go through different periods. I had many uncertain moments and, after the Agustin Lara album, I wanted to make an album that spoke an everyday language, closer to people. For my first album, I was very confident but I didn’t know much about production, the arrangements, the sound…
You are quite active on social media. How do you think this has contributed to your growth as an artist?
Nowadays, it is very important to be really close to your fans. I think that, thanks to[social media] my career has been able to grow. In fact, there was a moment when my label didn’t know what to do with me ‒frankly, I didn’t either ‒ but my fans were there for me.
Tell us about your process while writing the album.
It took me 2 years. There are many songs that didn’t make the cut. The creative process, the structure…it’s all very artisanal. I am a bit slow at it—I take my time. Sometimes, I wake up in the morning and come up with a song, but it’s not always like that. I write in my phone and in my little notebook and, when the songs are finished, I move them to a binder.
Who were your most important musical influences in this album?
I listened to several composers like Agustin Lara, Caetano [Veloso] and David Byrne. I also listen to Violeta Parra and Mercedes Sosa, and a lot of pop like Joni Mitchell, Justin Timberlake and even Simon Diaz. I am not limited by genre.
You are currently on tour through several U.S. and Latin America’s cities. Tell us about your experience creating these concerts.
Our concerts are an opportunity to go on a musical journey… a musical experience. They contain very expressive songs that shake you emotionally. The concert has very introspective parts and also moments to dance.
What do you think about Latina singers at commercial platforms such as the Grammys?
In Latin America, there is a lot of talent with strong projects, like Julieta Venegas, Gaby Moreno, Camila Moreno and Javiera Mena. From what I see in the industry, there are many of them, even if they are not in the mainstream much. Right now, there are women exploding through social media, like Carla Morrison, who can sell out the National Auditorium.There is more room now for independent projects.