Julieta Venegas is a shapeshifter. 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 eight -- 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 I 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."
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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."
Julieta Venegas. Sunday, February 27. Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 East Flagler St., Miami. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. and tickets cost $38 to $63 plus fees via ticketmaster.com. Call 305-374-2444 or visit gusmancenter.org.