Back in December we featured the Essential Weekly Playlist of Vanessa Forero. Now, following the release this week of her new EP, ‘From The Uproar’, we delve a little further into Vanessa’s background.
EP: What’s the Vanessa Forero story?
VF: Well, I began as a quiet mouse, spoke mainly through the piano, became a dark-room background composer for film/TV for years, wrote a book about my mum’s life story (she was kidnapped in Colombia age 5 then left to survive alone in the Colombian jungle), spent a few months filming in Colombia with National Geographic to make the documentary, felt the whole journey connected me to myself and my roots in such a big way that I ended up leaking in song…indie/folk songs with a Latino twist, and the process pulled out a whole new Vanessa – the artist/performer! Now I’m not hiding in dark rooms but trying to make friends with limelight. I’m mainly glad to be getting my hundreds of buried songs out there, and here’s 5 to start with!
EP: How has your Colombian heritage influenced your music?
VF: Very much so. Initially, less so in the music and more so in the attitude of the culture – that strong, feisty, spirited, colourful, wild thing. It’s only in spending those months in Colombia that I was exposed to a whole underground music scene out there – this very tribal, raw, earthy sound rather than the bright salsa trumpets – and that’s a sound I really clicked with and that has definitely played a big part on this record.
EP: Who are your main influences, musically and in life in general?
VF: There are sparks all over the place to inspire me, at every time of everyday, especially inside of music – one sound, one note and there’s a million possibilities waiting for you right there – but it’s what you chose to do with that spark that’s the thing. That’s the bit that takes the time but makes the song.
Recently though, for this record I’ve not been plucking my inspiration from the outside, but instead to everything inside. I’ve almost tried to translate myself musically…who I am as a person, my culture, my character, my leanings etc. For lyrics it always help to feel emotionally overloaded by something enough to be desperate for an outlet. It’s a fantastic pressure and fuel for music, although not always nice.
EP: What’s your take on the state of the music industry these days?
VF: There’s pros and cons. I think for new artists there’s a lot of pros because we all have direct access to instant audiences with the internet and with ways of recording and sharing our music. As for making a living off it, that’s a whole other side to music and can be a dark, dangerous tunnel full of sharks and business men trying to make money off artists’ desires to be heard. You have to be careful of the ugly shadows, it’s why I’m a big believer in keeping your music as close to you as possible. Make it, record it, write it yourself, if you can’t, it’s only practice. Still, there is a lot of good in the way things have gone these days. Not like we’d not all like to be back in the 70s music industry! Golden age, I think.
EP: Do you have any advice for artists looking at getting into music professionally?
VF: Find your edge. Copying is good to grow your tools and learn some music ropes from artists that know a thing or two, but imitation should never be your goal. Keep your eyes open for the lane that only you can fill. Write only the music that you can write. And stop being so damn serious about it! Just breathe in it.
EP: Top 3 artists we should look out for?
VF: – Jake Issac with his ‘get on your feet and occasionally cry’ music.
– Helen Sherrard with her fantastical cinematic pop musical/sound experience
– Gavin James for being a folk virtuoso. And generally a virtuoso human.
EP: Dream collaboration living or dead? Why?
VF: John Hopkins. His ear for creating natural, ambient, atmospheres with electronics is so fresh and exciting. I want to copy his brain to mine!
EP: If you could do it all again, what would you do differently and why?
VF: Not much to be honest, I’ve used my time up well, but I do wish I’d begun the practice of performing/singing sooner on. I’ve always been too absorbed in composing and playing the instruments that I never thought to sing or perform the things I was playing with. I just passed it onto that other breed – the performers! So I feel less developed there than where my writing/production level is. But nothing I’ve done has been wasted, that’s a good thing to have seen, although I’m only seeing that now.
EP: What question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview but nobody ever does?
VF: What question I wish someone would ask? What’s your address so I can bring you a freshly baked cake with a glass of milk and a swirly colourful straw to drink it with?