Today our Spotlight – Onna Lou. We chat with this seasoned performer about her music and the new release Bailar De A Dos. This single was co-produced by multiple Latin Grammy award winning producer Raniero Palm and Julian Vidal so you know it’s got something to it. Check it out now!
Are there any artists you grew up listening to that helped shape your music?
I can see the influence of Argentine folk artists like Atahualpa Yupanqui and his poetry, Mercedes Sosa and her incredibly soulful voice, Charly García’s incredible creativity and artistry, The Beatles perfectly crafted songs and richness… I could name many other artists but most of all I would mention my dad’s guitar playing and his respect for the lyrics and the writers, and my mother and her impeccable voice and the depths of her voice.
This song is about the power and importance of human connection. What are your favorite ways to connect to loved ones both before and during the pandemic?
Talking, talking, and more talking! I love long conversations, preferably one on one. Those conversation that are so long you end up talking about the most important things in life, but also laughing about the silliest things. I enjoy very much listening and trying to understand people and situations. Luckily this is something I’ve been able to keep doing through the pandemic, while I dream of seeing my loved ones in person again.
How was working with the Latin Grammy award winning producer, Javier Limón**? How did this collaboration come to be?
It’s been an amazing learning experience that marked my time at Berklee College of Music in a very positive way. I was lucky enough to have him as a teacher there. I took flamenco singing with him and songwriting in Spanish. He is a super active producer and always gave students all sorts of cool opportunities. He had this project to create a video for Alejandro Sanz with students, and he asked me to be the producer for it. I was over the moon! I learned a lot. This resulted later that year in a group of students performing at the Latin Grammys with Alejandro Sanz. I hope I’ll be back on that stage again!
How is the music scene in Winnipeg?
It’s very vibrant. I was very happy to find out that there is much love for live music and openness towards Latin music. I have met and worked with world class musicians here, and I feel very excited to be a part of it.
Having lived in three different countries, The United States, Argentina, and Canada, were there any variants in your music writing process as well as performing in each of these countries?
Well, there is a funny detail about that. When I lived in Argentina, I was writing songs in English closer to rock, pop, and jazz. It was only when I moved to the States that I connected with Latin Folk music and writing in Spanish, and only then I really found my voice. My time here in Canada has been a journey deeper into all Latin American folkloric music. As far as performing, I love writing the lyrics so I find it particularly gratifying when the audience can understand them. That said, it amazes me once and again how music transcends the language barrier and people who can’t understand the words enjoyed and are deeply touched by the songs. When I perform for an audience of English-speaking people sometimes, I hand out or project on stage translations for the lyrics and people really appreciate that.
Are you planning on moving again in the future?
I don’t see that happening any time soon. We are really loving our life here. You never know what life will bring or where it will take you, but so far, I am thankful it has brought me here.
Your series “Lunch break with Onna Lou” recently turned 6 months old. Do you have any favorite dishes to make?
I love the idea of always sharing my originals and some classics. I do a little research and talk about the authors or the context of the songs and I really enjoy when I learn and get to share some very curious facts about the music. It may be a very famous piece that most people don’t know who wrote it or what’s the back story, even though they may have known the songs forever.
How did the series come to be?
In the absence of live shows because of COVID we were thinking of a good way to engage regularly with an audience and take the opportunity to create a stronger relationship with the fans. It was my partner Julian Vidal who came up with the idea, and it has been great. “Lunch Break with Onna Lou” has been growing and growing. It has also helped me remain sane through the roughest months of isolation. Performing is an emotional need for me and I can’t imagine how it would have been not having any kind of shows during this time. It creates a special connection instantly even though we may be thousands of miles apart and looking at a screen.
Do you have any hidden interests? Or a fun fact you want your fans to know?
I love acting and have done theatre and improv for something like five years. Very recently I have had one of my fantasies come true, I got to be in a movie! It was a small part, but I enjoyed every second of it.
On your Instagram and in your music videos you are always seen with your guitar. Is there a special story behind this guitar?
Just that it is awesome! This is a very hard to find a Spanish guitar that has a pickup and good sound plugged in but also unplugged. It has accompanied through hundreds of shows and in composing many songs. It is a Cordoba guitar, I bought it in Boston 6 years ago.
Can you give us any hints about your upcoming album? What is the tone or is there an overarching message to it?
It continues with the spirit of the first album in the sense that each song is a world in its own so you can find very different sounds from one song to the other. The fusion with folkloric elements gets stronger in the new album and the emotions are rawer I would say.
What have you learned from your last album that you are able to apply into this new album?
An album is like a crystallization of who you are at a certain point in time and it is the way in which you decide to share that with the world, in a way, forever. Consequently, every effort to make it the very best expression in terms of quality is worth it. Making the first album (and this one!) is a taxing endeavor but I know the satisfaction of sharing it with others is what really completes my creative cycle.
In 2020 you have moved to doing online shows and streams with other artists. How have you found the change?
A good way to adapt. It can’t replace the in-person experience, but it is a blessing to have that option. At the beginning it was quite a challenge to perform just in front of your computer or phone and trying to have the energy you have when there are people in the room with you. It takes adjusting, but with time I have come to enjoy it and I am very grateful to be able to do that.
How has your music career changed the course of your life and shaped you as a person?
I would say it shaped me completely. Making music, learning music, playing music became the playfield where I learnt to embrace obstacles, better myself as much as I can at each moment, and be loving with myself and others. In my music I found my purpose, my way to contribute to the world.
Finally, what are your plans for the rest of 2021?
I will be releasing singles throughout the year almost every month, and a full album on the second half of the year. We kicked off the year with “Bailar de a dos” on March 26th, and “Amor crónico” will be coming out on May 21st. There will be three more Live stream shows (we did the first one of the year on March 21st). Of course, I’ll continue with the Lunch Break series on Instagram, and I will be putting together the songs for the third album for 2022. I am very happy that 2021 is a year full of work, creation, and performing.
Spotlight – Onna Lou is in the books. Thank you to Onna for taking the time to chat with us
Check out Bailar De A Dos now
Keep up with Onna Lou right here
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