The orange light of late summer evenings has the ability to beautify everything it touches. Even the buildings of a Madrid polygon. Behind the windows of one of them, in an already empty room where this photo session took place, Julieta Venegas (Long Beach, California, 1970) stands in front of a laptop computer, turns on the camera and begins to say hello: “Hello Nicaragua, hello Chile, how good Puerto Rico is…”. On the other side of the screen, hundreds of fans from different parts of the planet tune in to the presentation of the latest music video from his new album, Your story. Julieta is one of the most beloved figures in Spanish music of the last decades and, during the minutes she is live, her followers let her know. Earlier in the interview, she was slowly reflecting on her constant search. It was a trait of his restless personality that he cultivated throughout his life and for which he left Tijuana at the age of 21 to try to make a living from music. “I moved to Mexico City and put up posters in record stores because I wanted to start a band. They contacted me and I went to musicians I didn’t know listen to them to touch. Was a madness but nothing bad ever happened,” he recalls. Completely the opposite. It was his awakening. And in time, he realized his dream. World fame came thanks to salt and lemon in 2006 and several decades later, after a successful career with 10 Latin Grammys, 7 MTV Awards, 2 Grammys and 2 Billboard Music Award, left his label (Sony Music) to embark on an independent path. “I have to seek out uncertainty because certainty puts me to sleep. I’m wary of places where everyone is housed. Also, I’m at a point in my life and career where I don’t want a big machine represents me. I don’t want to be told it, but to be told it to me. It’s more modest and I never stop learning, “he says. His last audiovisual collaborations have been with directors Ana and Lola Piñero and with singers such as Sen Will be That is Wrong Rabbit.
How did the collaboration with Bad Bunny come about?
In the middle of the pandemic. I was locked up at home in slippers when Tainy, the producer, told me he wanted me to write an answer to a song Benito was singing. I love Bad Bunny and told him to send it to me ASAP. It was a fantasy.
Your 12-year-old daughter would be thrilled, wouldn’t you?
He said to me: “Did you say to Benito ‘don’t be afraid daddy, come and give me more’? “. ” Sure ! I replied. “If He Sings for Me”sorry baby‘, what am I going to say?” There are friends who don’t believe that I wrote this.
Has the figure of women in the world of music changed a lot since your beginnings 25 years ago?
Fortunately yes. There is no longer anyone at the door to say who is and who is not. And women songwriters have grown a lot. Moreover, they choose how they want to show themselves. There are still criticisms because some of them are very sexy, but it’s good that they show themselves as they want if they are the ones who decide it and not someone from behind. Sexy and feminism are not incompatible.
And you composed the theme Women due to the rise of feminist marches in Latin America.
Yes, I started experiencing these marches in Buenos Aires, where feminism was a spearhead for the rest of Latin America, and I was moved to see how they emerged in Mexico. I know what it’s like to be scared as a Mexican woman and the marches do something to your head. In them, we realize that we are a political force that can bring about structural change. Being on the street together is therapeutic because we have fun, we get mad, we cry for all the dead women and we’re there. When I saw how the press diverted attention from the center, which is the violence that women face in Mexico, and vandalized it by saying that feminists are aggressive, I wrote the song.
He declares that it is an unstoppable movement.
Yes, feminism is unstoppable, but it is going very slowly. All governments should ally with him because he is not only concerned with women, but also with the betterment of society. It infuriates me that the President of Mexico, [Andrés Manuel] López Obrador, who fights with anyone who opposes him, fails to realize that feminism is about building, challenging and changing things.
In your last videos, you only worked with female directors.
He wanted to avoid the excessive security of male directors. I need to work from some uncertainty, it gives me more openness to know where I want to go.
By leaving Sony Music and embarking on an independent path, you will also have taken on a lot of uncertainty.
Yes because, for example, it was no longer going to occupy certain spaces. But did I want to be in it or find my place? If you’re writing songs, you have to keep your feet on the ground and know who you are.
Is that why you moved to a neighborhood in Buenos Aires?
Sure. I needed to take my daughter to school, to go to the supermarket, to cook… And then I launched into a monologue in a theater of 200 people for six months. Every night, I was scared before going on stage. I want to do whatever interests me.
Literature is another pillar of his life. did the podcast pile of booksshares her readings on GoodReads and was the last guest editor of Editorial Barret.
I am a composer because I first became a reader. And as I am certain that it is possible, I spend time promoting it. In my case it was not because of a particular book, I started reading Corín Tellado in Vanidades magazine when I was seven years old, but knowing that I could imagine something just by reading a few lines seemed incredible to me.
Looking back, what is amazing in your life?
The audacity to leave at 21 to live in Mexico City. The impulse to stay and not return to Tijuana.
He said that “it is difficult to emerge from childhood unscathed” and that “with adolescence, it is the stage that defines us”. Was this the case in your case?
Yes, because we begin to define who we are when we are confronted with our family. I love them, but when I was a teenager I was very unhappy, I didn’t like living in Tijuana and I felt like I belonged somewhere else.
And he has a twin sister.
Imagine the level of denial! I was clearly part of this family and I feel very normal thanks to them. My dad is a wedding and event photographer. He always considered himself a craftsman, not an artist. Me too.
And what do you feel?
I write songs and I devote myself to music.
On this album he sings more chagrin than on the previous ones. What does he attribute it to?
The same was true for the pandemic [cuando lo escribió]. I am a love theorist, ask me what you want. LOL. In love stories, we tell of our humanity. But on the album there is a very furious ranchera of humor. You have to laugh out of spite like when something painful happens to you. In my songs, there is always humor to accept certain things.
the disc is called Your story. Because?
I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want to scratch anything that I’ve been through. Many times I put things aside to move on, and not now. Everything builds you, teaches you and makes you who you are. The important thing is to accept the error. Why suffer for things you’ve already done? You have to accept who you have been and what you have learned from those experiences. It makes no sense to pretend you haven’t been through anything.
applies those advices ?
No. I am very good at giving them and very different at taking them. Often, I write songs as a self-advice: first I think about it, I have an idea and then I put it into practice. My themes stem from this reflection.
Has age ever weighed on you?
Only between 19 and 20, because I felt that I had become super old. Then it didn’t happen to me again and I still think the best age is when I live because I really enjoy the changes. It is also that in the media we are used to idealizing youth, but there is much more.
It is a reference. Who is it for you?
Marisa Monte inspires me and young people like Rosalía. She is exceptional, a goddess. The other day, I was not feeling well before going to sing and I thought: “May the goddess Rosalía take care of me”. Sometimes I write to him on Instagram like: “I love youoooooooo”.
styling: Beatriz Moreno de la Cova
Nia Correia: “As a child, I had no reference because there were no black women on television”