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Today our Spotlight – Onna Lou – Round 2. Onna Lou is back to update us on her music and her newest release which talks about freedom from oppression. Moving lyrics and melodic tunes are Onna Lou’s bread and butter so whenever we get some new music come across our desks it’s always a fun time. Check out the convo right now.

Onna Lou, thank you for your time! It’s been almost a year since you sat down with Hidden Beats, and since then there have been live shows, video releases, and some new singles. What has it been like to have all of these outlets for your music?

Thanks for having me back! Well, it’s been very busy and challenging in the best of ways. While still going through the pandemic way of life and its limitations, I’ve had one of the busiest years of my professional life. I’ve been performing and creating music and videos that make me very proud. I am so deeply grateful for that. Being able to share my art in all these ways is like breathing out after having had to hold my breath for too long. It’s a relief, it brings peace to my mind and heart, and allows me to take the next big breath to create new things.

“Diamante”, which was released recently on International Women’s Day, is such a beautiful and powerful song about inner strength and perseverance, and it has been very well received so far. How did that song come together, and what has it been like having your latest song enjoyed by so many?

I started writing this song before I became a mom and finished it after my child was born. After I had gone through the hardest months of my life, I revisited the idea of the diamond I had come up with over a year earlier. It represents how by surviving and overcoming hardship we are transformed, just like how a diamond is created – the fluid minerals under pressure and high temperature become a strong beautiful rock. It means so much more to me now – I felt an increased empathy and understanding of the challenges women go through.

I understood in a new way the lives of my mother and grandmother. Beyond that, I had been able to fight for my right to be who I am when I felt my spirit was broken. I wanted to pour this into this song, using the symbol of the diamond, so that it could be a song to inspire, encourage, and empower anyone who finds themselves in a situation of oppression. A sort of anthem to remember how strong we are, and to remind us that the same strength that made us endure hard times can make us emerge from it… and remind us that we are valuable, tough, and beautiful, diamonds.

You recorded “Diamante” at your home studio. What are the advantages of having a recording studio right at your fingertips?

Freedom to experiment. I can go back and forth with ideas as much as I want until I feel I truly found the right instrument, arrangement, and vibe for each song. It was especially handy during the pandemic, during those times when we couldn’t even leave the house, I still had my refuge to record, produce, and release music.

Does having a home studio affect your songwriting process?

I don’t think so, at least not yet. I never use it to write the songs, I only take them to the studio when I am working on the production. However, I have been wanting to experiment with writing the songs there while I take inspiration from beats or different instrument sounds. Maybe the songs for the third album will be the time to do that.

You have a degree in music production from Berklee College that you have put to good use. How important is it to yourself as a singer-songwriter to have that additional level of input and control over your music?

I love that. Writing and performing the songs with my guitar is already so fulfilling to me, but when I get to record it, to imagine and realize the arrangement, a whole other level of enjoyment is added. Songs can grow into a beautiful things or be destroyed in production, and I can’t imagine not being part of that process with my music. It also activates other aspects of my musician’s brain which I love too. 

Late in 2021, you released “Sonriamosle a La Pena”, which is an incredibly upbeat and happy song with very sorrowful lyrics. The result, to me, is a song that reminds us to always try to find the good in life. Is searching for the positive parts of life important to your personal life as well as your music?

It is fundamental. We tend to see too much of what we are missing or what isn’t working and fail to appreciate everything that surrounds us every day which can make the same life peaceful and happy. It is very important to me to not confuse happiness with the absence of sorrow or peace with the absence of anxiety. Living fully to me is being increasingly able to embrace all parts of my existence without trying to “solve” my life as if it were a problem. This song reminds me every time, there is room for everything in my heart.

Earlier this year we saw the release of the video for “Serpentines”, a beautiful video with amazing visuals that brought the song to life. Were you involved with the production of the music video?

I hired two amazing professionals that created this amazing aesthetic and narrative to add images and colors and convey the beauty of this festivity in the Northern village of Humahuaca in Argentina. It is so important to collaborate with artists that have a deep commitment to their work, creating art from the heart and with high quality. Before they started we had a meeting via Zoom about the importance of including all cultural elements with care and respect to celebrate and honor this carnival and its symbols.

We talked about the elements that should definitely be present, what were the most important phrases, and the message of the song. We shared our research and also talked about whether the character should look like me or not, and what type of animation was the best choice. It’s been such a pleasure to see what they came up with. It is so exciting to start imagining something that doesn’t exist yet, and then it’s so magical when it takes shape and becomes this thing that as artists we are putting out there in the world. 

Are there any plans for music videos coming up?

Yes, several! The next one coming out will probably be after the album release for the song Océano Profundo (Deep Ocean). We shot this video in a lake in Ontario and in Winnipeg and it has beautiful natural landscapes. When I released “Bailar de a dos” which shows the city of Winnipeg and Winnipeggers dancing on the street, I got so many people asking me where this was, and they were surprised by the beauty of the city. I can’t wait to release this video and show people who’ve never been here some of the amazing nature that surrounds us.

“Diamante” the album is coming out next month. How excited are you to have this project be released for everyone to enjoy?

Words cannot express how I feel, but I’ll try. It is the realization of many dreams, the sum of uncountable love and heartbreak, work, faith, discouragement, strength, so much learning… so much life that has been poured into these songs and in the production of this album. It feels me with love thinking about the people it can reach and the emotions it can move in their hearts.

With restrictions easing and some new material coming out, where will fans be able to hear Onna Lou in person in 2022?

Winnipeg and Buenos Aires for sure. I plan on traveling and doing shows in other cities in Canada and México as well. Everything is born with an idea and I am already working on this one! I definitely want to be on stage a lot this year.

Spotlight – Onna Lou – Round 2 is a wrap. Thanks to Onna for coming back to spend some time with us once again.

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