By Alex Teitz
Claudia Acuña is young jazz singer heading towards the stars. Born in Chile, Acuña has been in the US for over five years. Her debut album Wind From the South showcases her talents with such song as “Pure Imagination”, and Gershwin standards to the original title song. Acuña has performed worldwide and with such performers as Wynton Marsalis, and Danilo Perez. Acuña blends styles in intriguing and original ways. For more information visit http://www.vervemusicgroup.com
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
CA: My songwriting technique…(pause) I never really have an idea today, and finish it in the same day. It’s something that takes some time, you know it’s almost like growing a flower it can months or a year you know. I write the lyrics sometimes before the melody, or sometimes the melody and then the lyrics. I don’t write music so I have a little tape recorder that I have with me all the time. I work on the ideas.
FEMMUSIC: What were the biggest challenges in being co-producer of Wind from the South?
CA: I think not be always clear and not get too emotional. ‘Cause it was a very emotional situation for me. I have great people co-producing the record with me so I always had a lot of help, and a lot of support. Be always clear. Know what I want or at least what I didn’t want, and not get too emotional.
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Wind from the South?
CA: Wow. I think it’s my first CD and there’s so many things that I wanted to say…Wow. I don’t know. On the one hand it’s like to present yourself to the world. I wanted to be very honest and not pretended, and not try to pretend to be someone that I wanted to be in the future. Try to connect very much myself with the moment, that particular moment and cap all my energy and the thing that I was able to have around me, and inside of me, and outside…Life teach me how to be patient and get all the answers I needed in the moment, and be totally confident of myself, and knowing that I would do my best in that moment.
FEMMUSIC: How has your own material changed since you’ve moved to the US from Chile?
CA: I think everything changed. Not change..it was something like close and open. I started to be myself especially in my music. I start to work and develop and challenge myself, and getting my own gigs and try to figure it out because I wanted to work on the music and have my own identity. So many beautiful inspirations around in that moment for me when I moved that it was like an explosion.
FEMMUSIC: Were you limited in any way in Chile?
CA: Limited? Of course I was. I love my country but it’s a very strange situation for me. I don’t feel comfortable there. I love my friends. I love my country, but it’s not closed. I never really found people like I have here that have so much commitment and love and respect for the music and for the musicians. For me at least I found many, many people who were willing to share what they do, and in many cases it’s all about the music it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from….Everybody inspire everybody. In Chile I couldn’t in a way.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
CA: Huh. Wow. For Jazz or music in general?
CA: I always complain that jazz has, for me it should be more exposed to in terms of other music. Some people say that jazz don’t sell and this and that and it’s a very particular audience that likes it. I think it should be something that people should get to know a little bit and then decide if they like it or not.
So far I’ve been happy with my situation. I’ve been able to express myself one hundred percent. I don’t have anybody really telling me what to do, or try to do someone that I am not. I think in general respect the identity of the artist, and develop art and culture. It’s something that goes thousands and thousands years ago that we’ve been able to follow history. Our own history. The way things are moving, everything is moving so fast, I think we should try to keep that. I think people should always respect the identity of the artist.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry, have you been discriminated against?
CA: I don’t feel like. I feel so happy to be a woman, and have all these men treat me like a lady. (laughing) I don’t mind that at all. I’ve been treated very nice. I’ve been discriminated against by more women than men, but I have some beautiful, beautiful sisters. I have to say it’s a beautiful world because there are some beautiful ladies out here.
My personal experience in especially in terms of music in general I’ve been treated with a lot of respect by my people. The guys that I work (with). A few assholes once and a while but soon they kind of like get the message.
FEMMUSIC: What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
CA: To keep dreams. To keep their dreams, and no matter what happens always think the universe wants the best for you. …No matter what happens always think that everything is a gift and I think if you have dreams you’re never going to give up on what you want. The rest is your own soul and your own spirit. Art will do the rest.
Artists we’re very lucky I think we got a beautiful gift. Something to express and communicate and make people and ourselves feel happy. Touch places in our soul that sometimes only art can take you to those….Art, life, expression. I think the advice I will give is always believe that the universe wants the best for you.