Cecilia Villar Eljuri, solo-artist and songwriter, shares with Al Borde the creative processes behind her newest album “La Lucha,” a collection of empowering songs about sticking together and fighting for change.
As her first self-produced album, Eljuri shows us a purer form of expression and a message of encouragement.
What does the album mean to you, personally?
“La Lucha” is my third solo record, and this one is a little more introspective than the other two … I’m always drawn to, lyrically, messages about inciting change and improving our world. Given everything that’s been going on in the world and in the US … I felt compelled to write a record about how we have to continue to stick together and fight, and that’s where the song “La Lucha” came out, and as I wrote more songs, I thought of “La Lucha” as a title for the whole album.
“La Lucha” is really the full-circle song for the album and why it makes sense to call the album that. It’s a very personal song about my struggle, and ultimately leading people through their own struggle–whatever that may be–by using their voice and giving them strength that there’s someone there for them. By using my guitar and the word, “I sing for the fight,” and that’s the chorus, basically … It’s a very empowering song hopefully for people, and we used it for the Latino campaign in the US to encourage people to vote.
As your first self-produced album, what challenges did you face?
I usually have a producer, but this time I was in so deep with the mixes and arrangements. To be self-produced is a lot of work and a lot of responsibility, but I got to dictate from beginning to end every step of the process and make the final decisions on how I wanted the songs to sound … Usually, as an artist, there’s a person other than yourself who produces … My next record, I might go back to having a producer, I don’t know. But [self producing] was an awesome experience that stretched me further and got me out of my safety zone, so that was exciting.
I noticed this album has a lot of genre mixing. Can you speak to me on that?
That’s my sound . . . It’s really organic. So, this album isn’t the first one [to mix genres] by any means, but maybe I took the range even further. Each song dictates to me how it should be arranged. I have a deep connection with my songs, so they kind of guide me after I write them–and all along the way–on how they should sound. But my sound is definitely a fusion. The people who know me are not surprised when they hear a reggae infused kind of song right after a rock-infused Latin song.
Can you tell me more about what was going on in the creative process for some of your songs?
In “Nunca Volveré,” that’s my rock and Lebanese influence, and that song is really an immigrant’s tale of people who had to leave their country for some reason or another, and never really imagined that they would not return. “Nunca Volveré” means “I’m never going to return,” whether it’s by choice or not, like with refugees. I really want to encourage people who are receiving immigrants into their country to realize that a lot of people don’t want to leave their country, but they have to to survive. [I want to] help people to be understanding and have open arms, and that’s pretty timely given all this discussion of immigration in this country. I’m always an optimist, but if I can help with music, I’d like to.
As you head out on tour, are you looking forward to performing anywhere in particular?
That’s a good question. I’ve been to South America, various cities in the US, a bunch of places in Canada, and many, many times to Mexico. So it would be nice to bring a record to Europe. But I’m busy, so I’m very grateful that I’m busy; it’s a great honor to perform in all these great countries and great cities in the US.
It’s always exciting to travel for me, and to meet people, and touch people with music and be touched back. There’s nothing like it.