Julieta Venegas at Gusman Center for the Performing Arts February 27
Julieta Venegas is a shape-shifter. Hers is a constant evolution, a never-ending series of experiments wherein she tests her own boundaries. She's not quite reinventing herself — her sound is a signature, featuring quirky upbeat vibes and a soothing, sweet vocal style. But she's not standing still, either.
Nearly a lifetime after picking up her first instrument at the age of 8 — and 12 years despues releasing her solo debut Aqui — music is neither a way of life, nor a way to make a living. It's an obsession.
She approaches each new project and every element of every song with near-innocence and childlike wonder. "Curiosity, I think, is my motor," says the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. "And for me that's really important, just being curious and finding out new things."
One would think the success she's had over the years — developing a worldwide following and nabbing a handful of Grammys — would have afforded her a certain confidence by now. But Julieta admits: "Every time I do a new album, I realize I still have a lot to learn. And I'm always nervous whenever I go into the studio or start writing again. Every time I start a new project, I get nervous about it."
When her latest record Otra Cosa was deemed mature, she was quick to counter. "I don't like the word mature. I suppose that every time I do a new album, I hope that I am somehow living a sort of evolution. But I think maturity sounds like you know what you're doing, and I never know what I'm doing."
And when asked about the ever-growing list of instruments that she picks up from album to album (on Otra Cosa, she not only plays electric and acoustic guitar, piano, and accordion — all norms for her — but percussion, glockenspiel, xylophone, and even cavaquinho), Julieta is equally demure about her talent.
"All the instruments I play, I pick up as ways of arranging and dressing up the song. I'm basically a pianist. I'm not advanced in any particular instrument. I like to pick up what I can to integrate instruments into a song. Every instrument will give you a different color. But I don't feel I'm a virtuoso in any of them."
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.