By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Friday, November 21st and Saturday, November 22nd, Argentinian electronic musician Juana Molina will take to Rio de Janeiro’s Oi Futuro Ipanema stage to perform as part of the ongoing 2014 Sonoridades Music Festival.
Singing mostly in her native Spanish, Molina is a former television actress and famed Argentinian comedian turned singer-songwriter, guitarist and electronic musician. Through her music she leaves the punchlines behind and weaves together her vocals with acoustic and electronic sounds like no other musician.
When asked where her inspiration comes from, Juana Molina told The Rio Times via e-mail; “I guess, basically, from all the music my parents played when I was I kid. I think those sounds in the house while I was playing with dolls or my sister must have fed me like osmosis. I have absorbed it without noticing it.”
Born to a tango-singing father, Horacio Molina, and to a mother, actress Chunchuna Villafañe, who was a fervent music fan with an extensive record collection, Molina later added that; “The music in the house was very varied, from João Gilberto (lots and lots of Gilberto), [Dorival] Caymmi, Jobim, Chico Buarque, Edu Lobo, Bill Evans, Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Maria Elena Walsh, The Beatles, Ravel, Schubert and many others that I forget right now.”
Notably, Alice Caymmi the granddaughter of famed Brazilian singer-songwriter Dorival Caymmi will also perform during the Sonoridades Music Festival on Friday, November 28th and Saturday, November 29th.
Continuing to speak about her influences and origins as a musician Molina added; “So then you are made of those [early] sounds, your shape is carved by what you’re fed with. Then, we you reach an age where you choose your own records, you have already this form, your ears know what they are looking for. A new taste was created: what they gave you mixed with what you are.”
“When I started to buy my own records,” Molina later added. “I started to listen to King Crimson, Jonny Guitar Watson, James Brown, Led Zeppelin, Eduardo Mateo, Santana, and later The Police, David Sylvian, Devo, and Steward Copeland. ‘The Rhythmatist’ is one of my favorite records of all times.”
The sounds Molina says she absorbed without noticing also prove to be unnoticeable as influences in her compositions. Molina combines the eclectic sounds she heard throughout her life and adds to them to her own life experiences and perspectives, crafting music that is truly unique.
Molina explained her sounds by saying; “When I started writing songs a long,long time ago, I thought it was pointless to do something that had been already written. So, if I heard something that I thought had a resemblance to a melody or a sound I recognized, then I abandoned the idea right away and looked for something that was new to me.”
Molina first entered the Argentinian mainstream in 1988 as an actress and comedian. “Although I started playing guitar as a little girl, I was very shy when it came to music exposure – unless it was about making fun of somebody else. So, acting was easy,” said Molina.
“Then, when I needed a job to pay my rent and to give me free time to play guitar, I thought a TV show was the best aim. I watched the telly for a month looking for the right show to be in.”
Molina went on to star in the show La Noticia Rebelde and then in Juana y sus hermanas, a sketch comedy show that proved to be a massive hit across Latin America. In 1996, at a point some would argue was the height of her comedic career, Molina left the industry.
“Years later, after succeeding as a comedian, I realized I had gotten caught in my own trap: the job that allowed me to do what I wanted became too demanding and I had to work long days a week to finish the next episode of my own show,” said Molina. “So, before it was too late I quit and went back to what I love: music.”
Molina released her debut album entitled, Rara in 1996 and followed that with Segundo in 2000. While some fans of her comedic work were left bewildered by the change, many new fans began to embrace her music that was dubbed “folktronica” and “neofolk.”
Three more albums would follow, Tres cosas in 2002, Son in 2006 and Un día in 2008, all winning critical acclaim. Molina also gained new fans around the world as she extensively toured the United States, Japan and Europe. She is currently on tour in support of her sixth studio album entitled, Wed 21.
When asked her thoughts about playing as part of the Sonoridades festival, where she will be joined during the shows by Brazilian instrumentalist and composer, Jaques Morelenbaum, Molina said; “I am always excited to play in new cities and Rio is a very special one. Brazil has been a huge influence in my musical experience as a kid and it seems that Sonoridades is a really great little festival to play. The day before we will be rehearsing with Jaques Morelenbaum. I think it’s going to be fun!”
Who: Juana Molina with Jaques Morelenbaum
When: Friday, November 21st and Saturday, November 22nd, doors open at 8PM and shows begin at 9PM.
Where: Oi Futuro Ipanema, Rua Visconde de Pirajá 54, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro
Entrance: R$10 – R$20