by / October 9th, 2008 /

Interview: Juana Molina

‘I’m good at mixing vegetables with fruits and cereal. Many different separate flavours, but then you put them together and you choose. I’m not very much into this over-elaborated cuisine.’

Juana Molina is discussing her culinary skills, but she might as well be telling State her artistic manifesto. La dama from Buenos Aires is gradually shedding her reputation as a Latin TV sketch-show comic, and is now revealing a musical skin that is getting critics in a lather. Her fifth album Un Día is yet another intriguing collection of multilayered sounds and earthy acoustic delicacy. It looks set to free her from the -world music’ pigeonhole she’s usually squashed into and place her, rightfully, among the Bjorks and Joanna Newsoms of this world.

She’s anxious to explain the role of lyrics in her craft, and in doing so, gives some insight into the lengthy writing process. ‘I fit all these musical rhythm moments with words that really make sense to me,’ she notes. ‘Not silly, but not too serious either. That’s why it takes so long after I finish the songs.’

Is Spanish a particularly musical language to use then? ‘Sometimes,’ she muses. ‘It can be unmusical as well. If you need to add another syllable in English, you can add a word: that’s more difficult to do with Spanish. I grew up listening to songs in English so in a way it’s strange for me, but I have no choice.’

Listening to Juana speak is fascinating. Not being a native English speaker, she tends not to dress up her descriptions, instead relying on a sincere and pleasantly straight-forward discourse. ‘I listened to no other music during the making of this record. I don’t know if it’s because I listened to so much music when I was young, but I feel like all my nutritional needs are already filled with musical information,’ she informs us.

She is due for a highly anticipated return to Europe, but is adamant to keep the flying to a minimum: ‘That wears you out. You’ve gained 15 years when you get home. I like my roots in the soil wherever I am.’ After one of the standout Electric Picnic sets this year, is she looking forward to seeing us again? ‘I think the show I had at the Crawdaddy last year was one of the best shows I ever had. Really fun. I got in a very good mood.’

So what’s next? ‘When I finish a record, I always think maybe this is the last one, but then I can’t help it and I make another. Maybe I might do something else.’ Like what, State wonders? ‘Grow potatoes!’

Juana Molina plays Crawdaddy, Dublin, on October 9, Stress, Club de Burgos, Galway on October 10 and Cypress Avenue, Cork on October 11. Un Día is out now