Mexico City's Gina "Madame" Récamier's artistic endeavors are as diverse as her life experiences. Growing up, the singer immersed herself in theater, dance, and, of course, music. She also learned to call many places "home" throughout her upbringing having lived in Milan, Italy, Queretaro, Mexico and Houston, Texas. With such a background, it serves as no surprise that her first musical endeavor is a bilingual musical exploration of all possible meanings of alternative pop. The border- and genre-straddling cantora is currently on tour in support of the U.S. release of her independent album Chocolate.
"Mira, Mira" is pop-rock at its best, with horn sections accentuating the lyrical "girl with a crush" theme. Gentle minimalism frames the percussion/acoustic guitar offering of "Kiss You," which ends with a couple "motherfucker" bombs just to let you know that the Madame is not to be, well, fucked with. The single that, in one shot, best definesChocolate
's different musical directions is "Ordinary Boy," which seamlessly weaves through tempo changes (mirroring the rollercoaster of love) before ending with a defiant and come hither "Do it!" chorus.
Speaking of it things to do, Madame Récamier has but one show left in Orange County as part of her recent Southern California slew of concerts. Before she brings her music to Santa Ana's Ebell Society on Saturday, theWeekly
had the opportunity to ask her a few questions:
OC Weekly (Gabriel San Roman): When I Google searched "Madame Récamier" a 19th century French society historical figure came up. Any connection between that Madame Juliette Récamier and your stage name?
Madame Récamier: Actually "Madame Récamier" is a painting of Juliette Récamier, and her entire story caught my attention. Also, she is one of my ancestors going way back. She was the first "Juliette Récamier" of that generation, and now it's my little sister whose name is Juliette Récamier as well. It's really interesting, and I didn't want to use my normal name - Gina Récamier - I really wanted to spice it up a bit and try something more fun. I like "Madame Récamier."
After performing in numerous cafes, you landed a gig playing guitar and singing backup vocals for Aleks Syntek's touring band. What did you learn from that experience as you pursue your solo musical career?
I think it's the best school I could have ever gone to. One thing is going to music school in the city every day and go back to your house. This was completely different. This is traveling, meeting new people and playing all around. Just seeing different crowds and places, you're sort of like a team. You see how everything works, how you have to load and pack. It's not just going up there and playing. It's everything that revolves around it. I learned a lot and I learned to be very patient with what I do. I also made really good friends and I'm happy that I lived that experience, but, right now, I really wanted to move on and do my stuff and try to make my own school for other people as well.
You're currently on tour in conjunction with the U.S. release of Chocolate. Tell us about how you approached your debut album musically.
When you're making songs, you have to think about playing them live for two years or even longer, so you really have to love your songs. With that in mind, yes, I love the album. I don't regret one single song on it. It's a little bit of everything. I do want to make a more solid type of music with my second EP and not go into all kinds of genres, because that's what I did on Chocolate. When people ask me, "What do you play?" I don't know what to say. I just say "Alternative Pop" because it's not alternative and it's not pop. I think the best thing is just to keep the making the music and that's the only way your going to learn your own sound.
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A number of songs you've recorded are in English. I interviewed Lo Blondo from Hello Seahorse! last week about singing in both English and Spanish. What inspires your bilingual approach?
Sometimes that can be kind of a problem to people. They say "If you're Mexican you should sing in Spanish and not in English." But who cares if you are doing great songs? I do like to make music in English and I enjoy it. I don't want to stop.
Speaking of going in different musical directions, you've also recently scored a theatrical score for a production called "Wonderland." How did that come about and what do you plan to do with the music?
I got a call from the director of the play. He sent me the script. I read it and liked. It wasn't so much "Alice in Wonderland" and was more like "Lewis Carroll in Wonderland." I accepted the offer to do the whole score and album, completing the task in three months. Right now it's mixing. I do want to put it out. It's more musical and theatrical. I'll probably put it out on iTunes in the future.
How have you been enjoying your current tour of Southern California and as an independent artist no less?
I love it. I've never done a solo tour, so this is awesome. I have played in California before at the Nokia Theater, but right now this is completely different. Being independent is cool because its a lot of hard work. Your team is smaller, but you gain more confidence. There are pros and cons to being on a label vs. being independent. Someday, I may decide to go on a label, but right now I'm working like this. It's working out and I'm happy.
Madame Récamier performs with Pambo, and L@s Cafeter@s for La Santa Cecilia's Orange County Noche y Citas CD Release Party at the Santa Ana Ebell Society, 625 French Street, Santa Ana; www.solartradio.com. Sat., Jan. 22nd, 8 p.m. All Ages. $6.