Mexican singer/songwriter and actress Ximena Sariñana burst onto the music scene three years ago with Mediocre, her critically acclaimed studio album that was anything but its unassuming title. The pop/jazz influences coupled with pensive lyrics won the debut effort well-deserved Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations.
The 25-year-old vocalist has since been plotting her next musical foray–last month, local Latin alternative music-lovers received a preview of what's to come from Sariñana's forthcoming self-titled sophomore release when she performed during Mucho Wednesdays at the La Cita bar in Downtown Los Angeles. Devoted fans lined up outside the venue, faithfully sang songs from her first album and were treated to the musician's new English-language songs at the intimate venue.
Ximena Sariñana brings her music to Costa Mesa's Detroit Bar
tomorrow night, but before she does, the Weekly caught up with her to talk
about the success of her first album, the Mucho Wednesday's experience
and the risks she's taking on her forthcoming album.
OC Weekly (Gabriel San Roman): Your critically acclaimed debut album, Mediocre, was released back in 2008. Did the success and Grammy/Latin Grammy nominations it garnered surprise you since it was your first solo venture into music?
Ximena Sariñana: It definitely surprised me. I didn't really know what to expect. It was my first record. It was totally unexpected, and, of course, I was very happy with it. But I'm also a person who likes to think ahead. I do this for the learning experience more than anything else. I'm always thinking about what the next step is. Pretty much, that's what it's been for me in these three years since Mediocre came out. I've just been thinking about what's next and just playing, learning and recording the second record. I'm just really letting myself be surprised by what life has to bring to me.
Last month, you played a show at Mucho Wednesdays in Downtown Los Angeles. Describe the experience there, as well as your reasons for performing at that particular club?
I'd heard of Mucho Wednesdays and the cool Latin alternative bands performing there. I just felt that I wanted to be a part of that. I think that it's really cool that Los Angeles, which has a big, big Latin community, has that happening–that there is a club that is taking time to organize and book shows with Latin alternative bands it believes in. I just wanted to form a part of that and also try some stuff live. One of the main reasons someone plays live is you want to try some stuff out. I wanted to try out my solo performance and try out how the blueprint was working and see if it was possible. The crowd was amazing! The people who go there are expecting a certain musical quality to the show. The vibe was really, really cool. It was all Latino and people who wanted to have the Latino experience. It was so much fun to perform there.
At that show, you previewed new material from your upcoming self-titled album, including a song called “Wrong Miracle” in English. How did audiences there, as well as at SXSW, react to your new songs?
Fortunately for me, people reacted really well to the new material. I'm trying to do something very hard for a Latin artist. Singing in English changes my language focus. That's something very hard to do and for people to take it very well. I'm just trying to be as honest as I can in my performances and just showcase new songs and take it that route because, in the end, everything I try to do with music is very honest. I don't ever want to look like I'm not doing something honest. I think, fortunately enough, fans have been able see it and share their experiences with me. Also, being so close as I am in my social networks, I think that creates some sort of a feeling that they know the process, that they know what's going on. I appreciate that a lot.
You're crossing over in language from Spanish to English for your sophomore effort, but how would describe the approach in terms of the music itself?
This record is way more produced in terms of tools that I was able to use. I guess I went a little over the top. [Laughs.] I wanted to use all the resources that my producer was capable of. I got to experiment a lot more with samples, synthesizes and different ways of creating songs in more production-orientated ways. That was very interesting. The jazz influence I don't think will ever disappear because that's the way I learned music theory, and I tend to shift toward that. The chord influence of jazz is still there. It's just the production that is way more experimental for me. There was a lot more to experiment with.
You've lived your life on both sides of the border. Now your music is poised to do so in a much more pronounced way. How do you think your self-titled second album will be received not only in the U.S. market, but in Mexico as well?
I have no idea! [Laughs.] It's one of those things that you really never know. I can say, 'Well fans are going to be sort of angry at me because I shifted toward a different language,' but then, I do it, too! Every time a new record comes out from an artist that I really, really love, it's very hard for me to love the new record. All of us tend to do it. I really don't know. It's definitely going to be a shocker for a lot of people in Mexico. But on the other hand, in Mexico, we are used to it in terms of music. Lady Gaga just sold out a 50,000-seat theater in half an hour, and it's all music in English. For me, I just don't know what to expect. I just hope that whatever comes out is positive. I just wanted to do things to be able to continue doing music, to continue growing and to continue learning.
Ximena Sariñana perfoms with Signa at Detroit Bar, 843 W 19th St., Costa Mesa; www.detroitbar.com. Thurs., March 24, 9 p.m. $15. 21+.