About to release a tribute album to folk star Agustín Lara, the Mexico City indie-pop darling, political protester, and new reality show star proves that the past is just as present.
To watch Natalia Lafourcade perform live, or better yet, to have a conversation with her, is to undergo a super-potent spell. Though the pint-sized, very friendly, and beloved Mexico City singer/songwriter/guitarist probably doesn’t even know it, she has one of those auras that floats above us mere mortals, filled with genuine, unfettered emotions and all-seeingness — while you’re sitting there fumbling with your coffee feeling awed and dopey.
“You feel the colors, the textures, the cinematography. I approach my music as a visual experience,” says Lafourcade in an interview, speaking about her new tribute album, Mujer Divina, which honors the late Mexican 1920s-1960s folk icon Agustin Lara. “His music feels like something that I would have done at the time. I went through a process that made me know me better…to make a connection between Agustin Lara’s essence and mine. He spoke of a very, very profound love that has helped me find something inside of me. For Agustin it was profundisimo.
“Si,” I respond. (Coffee fumble.)
No matter what Natalia Lafourcade does — in this case a Lara cover album featuring Adanowsky, Devendra Banhart, and more — she does it with every inch of her heart. It’s with this vulnerability/passion/almighty power that the 28-year-old (though 18-year-old in looks) won over Mexico in 2003 with a Platinum debut, two charting subsequent albums (the Latin-Grammy winning Casa, and Hu Hu Hu), and collaborations with everyone from Ximena Sariñana (Lafourcade wrote the lyrics to “Tu y Yo”) to her own personal idols, Cafe Tacvba. She casts away superficiality, yet she’s a magnet for commercial success. Her sound is versatile, veering toward sweet, accessible Spanish-language indie-pop on her own work, but she’s able to adapt to everything from hip-hop to acoustic protest fare.
Put simply, everybody loves Natalia Lafourcade, and she loves them back.
Watch “No Viniste,” (“you didn’t come”) a spaced-out hit off Natalia’s third album Hu Hu Hu. The LP name is an “expression of joy.”
She even loves the camera people who filmed her reality show, Mi Mundo Privado, which is set to air this weekend and follows the starlet through her home life, tours, friends, and her music work during the recent controversial Mexican elections.
Not many reality stars are this generous: “The cameras didn’t bother me too much because the people involved in the show were angels. They were divine, and they had a very artistic approach,” she says, in a mix of Spanish and English (she insisted on speaking some English, insisting she never gets to practice).
Mujer Divina (or “divine woman”), released Tuesday, was a deeply emotional experience for Lafourcade, allowing her to experience the ballads of one of Mexico’s most famous, insightful, sensitive Don Juan crooners. On a grander scale, it furthered connects her to Mexico’s rich music history.
“Mexico is a very special place,” she says. “The colors, the landscape, the roads, the countryside, there are so many things to inspire you….I think that there are many Mexican artists now who want to make the connection between their feelings and music that we had before….It happened to me when I recorded Mujer Divina. I feel super proud of being Mexican.”
Hear Natalia covering Agustin Lara’s “Maria Bonita.”
After dominating her country’s charts and pretty much emblazoning her name in the canon of Mexico’s most influential musicians (though, she will never admit it), Natalia Lafourcade has been gaining more foreign fans in recent years. After a nice stint in the states, she hopes to return.
“I want to go more often to the united states, because last time I went, I was very impressed. There are so many people from Latin America and everywhere. And I felt very…querida.” (Basically a better way of saying “loved”.)
For now though, she remains Mexico’s darling. Though, she hopes to shed the celebrity on Mi Mundo Privado, which airs September 24 on Cosmopolitan TV.
“A lot of people know me from the stage, but I want to show that I am a normal person,” she says. “I’m just working hard all the time to make my dreams come true.”