Only two years have passed since the release of her previous production, “La Fortaleza”, and as of today, Francisca Valenzuela has a new album -the fifth of her career-, “Vida tan bonita”, which constitutes a kind of record for an artist who used to release albums every three or four calendars.
The work was created and recorded in Los Angeles, a city that became the residence of the Chilean singer-songwriter born in San Francisco for almost six years, before she decided to move to Mexico City, where she has lived for a few months. And the germ of the work was the compositions that she developed in her house in Southern California while she was facing the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do with all that, but the process coincided with the start of my work alongside [el productor] Sebastián Kryz in an Elvis Costello project [el álbum de ‘covers’ ‘Spanish Model’], where I did a version of the song ‘Hand in Hand,'” Valenzuela told the Los Angeles Times en Español during a recent Zoom interview from his home in the Aztec capital. “All but one of the songs that ended up being recorded were written at that time. [de cuarentena]and I think that’s what gives them a sense of urgency, of being against time and struggling to find bits of light in the midst of darkness.”
As has been happening for a long time in the author’s career, “Vida tan bonita” is not anchored in a specific style, despite flirting with those aspects of pop and synth that are already common in the discography of the same vocalist. There are even incursions into cumbia, as is the case with the song “Mundos separated”.
“I was looking for an album that was free, in which I could not only play with styles and sounds, but also with instrumentation and recording”, the artist explained to us. “Almost everything was done live, and everything has free spaces, as happens with the ‘codas’. It was very non-surgical, very organic, almost like a response to what was happening during the pandemic, where everything was controlled, measured and remote.
“There was also the idea of looking for that nineties and ‘two-mile’ influence, of confessional pop rock, which for me has been formative, because it occurred during my adolescence,” added Valenzuela, although it is also worth noting that the work contains songs with elements of the urban genre, which is not news for an artist who, as she herself comments, had already used the ‘denbow’ in a song from “La Fortaleza” called “Héroe” and which she herself defines as “a reggaeton existentialist and philosophical” before letting out a laugh.
Our interviewee allows herself to be guided by what each composition asks of her when she sets it to music, and in that sense, the more relaxed lyrics of new pieces like “SALÚ” and “Castillo de cristal” lend themselves to the festive pop in which they end up being placed. . “Those are songs that were first released as singles and that sought to offer an alternative to the apocalyptic look that was then, in order to offer something theatrical and emotional and show that it was not about letting oneself die,” she pointed out.
Another of the singles is called “Como la flor”, and to be clear, it’s not a ‘cover’ of Selena’s hit. “It had never happened to me to have a song called like another, at least that I know; but this was intentional, so I’m not worried, “said the Chilean-American.
feminism and intimacy
These days, the term ‘female empowerment’ is thrown around a lot, to the point of applying it to situations that don’t deserve it. The lyrics of many of Valenzuela’s songs can be fairly described (the word “feminism” appears in at least one of the pieces on the new album), but that does not mean that all the compositions included in “Vida tan pretty” go openly on that side, as evidenced by “La impostor”, where she talks about psychological sensations that she feels limit her as a person.
“I believe that sharing personal things or intimate truths can have a transformative power. There are many things that women have not had the opportunity to say, because they have been made invisible or judged; the simple fact of sharing an experience or a process that is not usually shown is already subversive and has a social impact, ”she assured.
“The confessional streak is my primary way of connecting with music, which does not prevent me from sometimes making much more direct lyrics and with obvious messages that do not go on the biographical side,” he added. “But I tend to write much more from that narrative and personal aspect, which also has to do with my love of literature. Finally, the personal is also political.
Valenzuela has released six singles from the album so far, and all of them have been accompanied by the most elaborate and eye-catching videos that, in at least three cases, were directed by her, as happened twice in the recent past. This makes it clear that her skills go beyond music.
“Exploring the visual part has allowed me to present what I do in a more complete way, play with different languages, elevate the song in another way,” he explained. “I love film and I always imagine things with images when I’m writing or shooting, so I think this was a natural progression in my artistic quest.”
Curiously, Valenzuela had the opportunity to access the position by chance, when the person who had been hired to take care of the “Tómame” clip decided not to do it. “Of course I had worked hard on the proposal, so the cinematographer told me to go ahead and direct it,” she recalled. “I started googling blueprints and equipment names to get a little understanding of the language and to have some tools on set, and I ended up really liking it.”
We couldn’t let the singer-songwriter leave us without getting her impressions on Chile’s new president, Gabriel Boric, whom she supported from the start of his candidacy and who came to power with a majority-female cabinet. It should be noted that the interview presented here was carried out weeks before the dissemination of the reports that indicate an impressive increase in disapproval of the president and an alarming worsening of the economic indicators in the trans-Andean nation.
“I always support causes [específicas], but this was the first time I supported a candidate,” said the creator of “Good Soldier.” “[Boric] he has a great challenge ahead of him; we are all there, expectantly, but it seems to me that he is a political leader with humanity, who wants to do things that have never been done in Chile and who is incorporating a new paradigm in authority, in leadership and in the presidency”.
“Obviously, there is going to be friction; imagine the candidates there were. It is not an easy topic”, she added, perhaps anticipating what is happening there today. “Anyway, I have no political or party affiliation.”
Valenzuela no longer lives in Southern California, but he hasn’t forgotten about us. On March 29, he participated in a tribute event to the legendary and combative Chilean singer-songwriter Violeta Parra that took place at the Grammy Museum, and starting in July, he will join the Mexican indie rock band Camilo Séptimo to embark on a US tour that will hit the Echoplex in LA on August 6 and The Observatory in Santa Ana a day later. We have to see it.