Puras tragedias. That phrase accurately sums up my first night at SXSW. A lost wallet incident not only set me back hours of daycasing (sorry I just wrote that), but I also had to cancel a scheduled meetup with Pamela Sepúlveda a.k.a. Fakuta. And, since the Chilean Estrella would only be in town for three days (and understandably had other plans besides business), another meeting seemed difficult. My luck changed once I caught up with her at the Intolerancia showcase. After the show, Fakuta and her bandmate Felicia Morales were in a bit of hurry to attend an Austra show, but also saw no reason why we couldn't get in an interview on the way there. Here's what we talked about on our walk:
Giovanni Guillén: Al vuelo has been out since 2011. What can you tell us about your new album?
Fakuta: It's still in the early stages. I have a few songs ready but I’m the kind that likes to have a concept thought out. For me, albums should be albums. They should be a complete work like a soundtrack. My last record started out the same way—loose tracks that eventually became something. It's happening again, getting these individual tracks sorted out. Right now they're missing the consistency for me to call it an album. I am sure, however, the record's production will come out faster. I'd like to do it this year. I also want the producers to really play a part in the process. On Al vuelo I came to the studio with everything basically done. I'd like the new songs to come in bare, so that we can all contribute something. "Juntapena" was formed like that. We had a lot of fun with it, and it came out a lot quicker.
GG: You pretty much know all the big Chilean artists. Which compatriots would you like to get for the next record?
F: Many, I think. Actually, I’ve always been more about finding collaborations from the underground. There's a girl called La Entrópica who has a great electro sound with this deep voice. That'd be cool. I've thought about it. Besides Chileans, I’ve already got a collaboration with Coiffeur from Argentina. We've become good friends. We even played together at Festival Neutral a year ago.
GG: How did Neutral go for you this year?
F: Really cool. It isn't a huge festival. Everything in Chile is a lot smaller. The Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center is such a wonderful space and it got pretty packed. I'm still not that well known in Chile, but at least I got to play for a lot of new faces, as well as old friends. It was just fun. I’ve also started playing with a new band that includes Felicia Morales, Pablo Muñoz, Anita Gallardo, and my boyfriend, DJ deMentira.
GG: A lot of music in your genre typically doesn’t allow the lyrics to be so clear and so easily understood. Why is that the case for your music?
F: I think that started more as a decision from my producers. Pablo Muñoz and Milton Mahan (from Dënver) have such strong pop leanings. Back then, I was more into Nite Jewel and other artists who put effects on the vocals and I also wanted that. When I started out I had, like, zero confidence in what I was doing. Pablo and Milton really helped me out. Milton would always tell me good things about my lyrics. After a while, I started noticing how people who listen to my music got something out of the lyrics. It was either personal to them or they identified with it in that moment. That's huge for me.
GG: Plus people can sing along with you at your shows.
F: Yeah, definitely. I've also learned about myself, too. Like, how I have so much influence from Latin music and even romantic singers like Yuri. Those are things one can't escape from. I remember before making my album I used to be ashamed of all of that. I would write songs and then think, "No, I want to be in a rock band." I guess I needed time to figure out it's what I do best or what comes out more naturally.
GG: I feel like your lyrics touch on very similar themes, like the need to travel. Where does that come from?
F: It isn't necessarily a need to travel. More like a need to elevate myself. I feel like I belong in the air (laughs). I guess those themes are a little esoteric. I'm also really into things like machines and technology. For "Juntapena" I kind of imagine a road trip to the south. I also think of a childhood vacation or something like that.
GG (after having arrived at their venue): As a music fan, who are you most excited to see at SXSW?
F: I'd love to see Prince but we're not gonna be here for it. Or even Nick Cave. But this festival has always intrigued me. It's like Carnival out here. I also love that there's so many groups who are kind of like where I am, starting out without a big following. I'm not here with the expectation that I'll blow up or anything like that. Ultimately there are still a lot of cultural differences.
GG: So do you think the language barrier is still a big issue?
F: It's getting better, I think. But I feel like English speakers who listen to music in Spanish are kind of viewed as weird. I think it's great. As someone who grew up listening to music in English there's definitely another relationship with the music. One appreciates the composition and the structure. That's also important. Maybe later you learn the real meaning of the words, and it's disappointing because of how dumb it was (laughs). Still, I love how there are people who don't speak Spanish but who listen to our music. I feel in some ways it's more genuine and honest. Sometimes I even see it see as an advantage.