Artist Spotlight: Julieta Venegas

Buenos ding dong diddly dias. I’ve used ‘Eres Para Mi’ in two previous spotlights for Ana Tijoux and Mala Rodriguez. This time I’m focusing on Julieta Venegas herself. Here’s her solo take

She’s not a bad rapper, as well as singing and playing the accordion. (She also plays the guitar, piano, cello and violin.)
Born in California in 1970, she was raised in Tijuana and was one of the founder members of Tijuana No! A Mexican Ska/Punk band. Which are a little different from her solo releases but she has retained the reggae influence. Her music is a lot mellower than this no. (Venegas comes in at 2:30 on this)

After Tijuana No! She played with a number of small bands untill 1997 when she was signed as a solo artist and released her first album Aqui The lead single De Mis Pasos still had a bit of the punky punch of her early work ( It’s basically a “I’m better off without you” song) Which is impressive, as the accordion wouldn’t be in my list of ‘rock’ instruments.

The success of Aqui led to Venegas being in demand as a collaborator with other artists. Over her career she has recorded/performed with (deep breath) Ana Tijoux, Mala Rodriguez, Natalia Lafourcade (Who is also amazing and decribed Venegas as her ‘heaviest teacher’) Sasha Sokol, Enanitos Verdes, Sr. Gonzalez, Los Tres, Liquits, Cartel de Santa, León, Enrique Bunbury, Olivia Ruiz,Pedro Guerra Ofrenda , Nelly Furtado….if you’re ever playing 6 degrees of separation with Latin music, Venegas will be your go-to win.

In 2000, as well as contributing to the Amores Perros soundtrack, she released Bueninventa which kept up a bit of the punky kick on songs like Hoy No Quiero

Her next album, Si was a huge commercial success, selling over 3.5 million copies. The cover fetaures her smiling in a wedding dress and the main theme is one of romance, as on ‘Andar Conmigo’ (Walk with me)

The following album Limon Y sal was even more successful and more musically diverse with hints of folk, country ,even reggaeton and featured guest rapper Dante Spinette from Argentina.

She followed Limon Y Sal with an MTV Unplugged performance (The first recorded in Mexico) then the album Otra Cosa on which she played acoustic and electric guitars,ukelele, bass, synthesizers, various percussion instruments, cavaquinhos, winds, piano and accordion.

She has become a strong advocate for both feminism and Mexico. She appeared in the 2013 Documentary Hecho en Mexico which aimed to prevent a positive riposte to Mexico’s main coverage being drug wars and crime by showcasing Mexican artists.She was the inaugural speaker in the USC Annenberg Distinguished Lecture Series on Latin American Art and Culture.

She has a wealth of recorded material you should really check out so I won’t turn this into a massive collection of collection of embeds I’d advise you to have a look.
I’ll leave with a favourite that is the probably the most adorable video not to feature kittens or Pixar characters, it even makes the ukelele seem a viable instrument.

Hasta luego !