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Bilingual rock star Julieta Venegas reflects on ‘Los Momentos’

Video shot and edited by Allie Morris and Victoria Fleischer

Whistles and cheers greeted Julieta Venegas as she walked out across a dark stage to an awaiting piano and immediately launched into “Hoy,” the first track off “Los Momentos,” her latest album released in April. The song, like the rest of Venegas’s sixth studio record, is strong on the synthesizers and drums. It marks a clear departure from some of her earlier work, which features a more acoustic sound.

“I have always used a combination of both, of various synthesizers and drum machines and contrasting them with accordion and acoustic guitar,” she told Art Beat before a recent concert at The Fillmore Silver Spring, near Washington, D.C. “When I started working on this album, I wanted to go back to something more basic to me, which is what I had at hand, which was a lot of synthesizers… I felt if I wasn’t using the same elements I would automatically find other ways of solving the songs.” Venegas attributes her distinct sound to her upbringing in Tijuana, a Mexican city just across the border from the United States. Fluent in both Spanish and English, Venegas said that living on the border gave her access to different artists and genres of music before the age of the internet and music sharing. “There was always a lot of mixing in my house of different styles of music. But I think for me when I was a teenager, I thought that the cool thing to listen to or the things that I was discovering were mostly in English.” Venegas tastes evolved as she got older, and she turned to music in Spanish and other languages.

For her own songwriting, Spanish is her language of choice. When she tried to write songs in English, they sounded cliche, she said. “Everything has been in Spanish, my mom would speak to me in Spanish, my ex-boyfriends would speak to me in Spanish, it’s not like I have lived that many things that were to me crucial in English,” Venegas said. “I really don’t want to force it.”

Venegas has found huge success with singles “Me Voy” and “Andar Conmigo,” among others. For her album “Limon y Sal,” she won the Grammy for Best Latin Pop album in 2007. “I have always been very selfish with my writing, I don’t really think about who is going to listen to it or what they are going to think about it,” Venegas said. “For me it’s always liberating to write.”

Venegas wrapped up her “Los Momentos” U.S. tour at the end of October.

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