Getting romanced by a former child star
When you first see Natalia Lafourcade (La-four-KA-deh) in person, your instinct is to protect her from all the world’s ills. You mind your language. You cover your cleavage. You dismiss thoughts of sex, drugs, drug wars, and wars on drugs. Despite four albums and a world-weary list of collaborations, the 27-year-old pop singer/guitarist/pianist still seems as pure as a preteen princess, and nobody is going to ruin that for her hometown Mexico City.
Admittedly, we fell smack under her spell when we met her post-show at Vive Latino. She was wearing a glitter babydoll dress fit for a toy — a departure from the animal costumes surrounding art off her latest album, Hu Hu Hu. She’s open-faced, thin, smaller than you’d expect, and constantly smiling. Before the interview, her adrenaline-pumped bandmate picked up Natalia, hugged her, and accidentally dropped her against the side of a tent structure. Everyone flew into a panic, positive that her insy fragile frame had shattered like a piece of porcelain.
Of course, she was fine. The aura of youth has apparently blessed her with an uncanny ability to bounce back. Since she started as a child star and endured two band breakups before she went solo, this trait has come in handy.
I was able to speak to Natalia about her dress, her endless collaborations, the devoted fans who throw gifts onstage, and her princess appeal.
I noticed you weren’t going the animal costume route today.
It is because I designed this dress.
You designed it yourself? So you designed the ones that your band is wearing, too? You’re all wearing the same thing.
What inspired the dress?
What inspired me? The color white, because I wanted to spread light, so I was thinking about white, because it’s very shiny.
Did light also inspire Hu Hu Hu?
Yes. I think so because it’s a very free-flowing CD. It’s a CD that I love. It’s my favorite CD and I enjoyed making it. It’s a CD that when I listen to it I feel that it has a lot of light, which is a lot like a respite, a place where you can go to breathe. It was the manner in which I made it that made me feel this way.
Do you have other albums coming?
Yeah, I’m preparing my next album right now. But it’s been like a weird thing because I’m in the middle of many, many things, many other things happening at the same time, so it’s like OK, I’ve got three days to work on my next album. Let’s do it. And then I go for a trip or I’m doing another thing and then I go back to my album. And I’m leaving in four days for Argentina to work with another producer, and we’re going to stay there for two weeks, and then we’re coming back and then going to Europe, having a tour and then I come back, so I don’t know when I’m going to finish this, but I’m really excited about it. And it’s pretty. It’s getting there.
Does it have art? Or do you have an idea for the art? Like last time you did animals?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I already have an idea, and the disc and the music is very romantic. So I think the art is going to be all mellow things, mellow stuff and it’s very busy.
Something you do more than anything else is collaborate constantly with other people. Do you have a favorite ?
Yeah, well, I just collaborated with Noah Georgeson, who is like the Devendra Banhart guitar player and also Greg. And they’re awesome. They’re like amazing. And also there’s this guy, Rodrigo from Little Joy, and he sang in one of the songs that is going to be on the next album. And it was so beautiful. And also collaborating with people from here, like new artists, independent artists that are playing here like Carla Morrison or Torreblanca, Ximena Sariñana, who’s another friend and who invited me to produce a song. Julieta Venegas. Many people. Even Meme [from Cafe Tacuba]. I love it because you can get to another point when you collaborate with other people.
How was it tonight? What is it like playing in front of all these people from your home city who love you so much?
It was amazing. It was very incredible. I was very excited about playing tonight because I played seven years ago, and it was very different. And now the people in the audience were there with me and with the band, and we were sharing our energies. It was so pretty. It was just like there. We didn’t have to do anything for it to happen.
They threw a shirt on stage for you?
Yeah, and also flowers. They gave me this [points to pink bow necklace].
Do you have a collection of gifts?
Yeah, I have boxes with stuff. And I don’t know what to do with all that, but it’s there at home. And also letters. Many, many fan letters.
Are they weird at all?
They’re mostly really, really nice stuff. And also when you’re like, ‘gahh, I don’t feel good,’ that you’re not doing your music well or whatever and then you read the letters and they’re so pretty that you just feel silly because these people give you so much love, and then it’s like c’mon. Let’s just have fun.
So you’ve worked in music since you were a child, right, basically? What was it like to be a child star?
Well, I started when I was 14 or 15, something like that. I didn’t like it at the end, later, it wasn’t that good to me. But it was OK. At first, I was really happy and very excited about touring with my other mates and dancing and pretending that we were singing. It was just fun. And I couldn’t go to school, too, because it was all the time, so I was like, ‘Woohoo!’
You danced around so much tonight. Not to offend you but, sometimes you have an aura of a young girl still when you dance around! Is that something you like to maintain in your image or is it just the way you are?
Actually, tonight I wasn’t able to play, because I hurt my hand and I had to ask my friend to learn all the things that I normally do on stage with the guitar and the piano. And she learned all that, and I danced. But I never dance. I’m always behind my guitar or piano.
Do you feel young?
Yeah, it feels great, because there is so much energy going on when you’re on the stage.
Do you think you’re going to change your music or your energy later in a few years?
Yeah, yeah, for sure, because its always changing. It’s never the same. In every CD that I release is a different thing. It depends on the environment around me that surrounds me during the, I don’t know, the process of writing songs or when I’m at the studio recording. So I don’t know how the next album is going to be. But it’s always a surprise.