She just celebrated her 24th birthday with a carne asada and a small group of friends. The thought of being closer to 25 than to 20 has her a bit on edge, but she’s not loosing sleep over it. She’s well aware that the rule of thumb states that with every year older, the soul becomes one year wiser as well. But she’s yet to feel the downpour of a years worth of enlightenment. She feels just as sound as she was just one year ago when she ventured into world of solo musicians. Carla Morrison may not feel one year wiser, nor may she know that she’s part of something special (actually, she doesn’t. She told me so). But she is. She’s part of a surge of musicians who collectively, and perhaps just like Morrison, unknowingly, are creating a new chapter in the history of independent Mexican rock.
It’s a surge that has female-led bands and female solo musicians of the Mexican indie scene on the tip of many tongues and on the radar on many media. Natalia Lafourcade, Julieta Venegas, Ximena Sariñana, Ceci Bastida, Lo Blondo (Hello Seahorse) and Madame Recamier, to name a few, are some of those names. The newest addition to the pack is Morrison herself. She’s opening shows for Venegas and Ely Guerra, her next album (already completed) was produced by Lafourcade, and she also managed to land her first magazine cover earlier this year. Her move to Mexico is resulting fruitful and the future seems just as promising. But none of that seems to phase her.
We talked to the still-young songstress a couple of days before her scheduled performance at Al Borde’s Acoustic Session where she, along with indie musician Pilar Diaz and other female artists, will be celebrated for their contribution to the Latin Alternative arts community. During this chat, she talks to us about the whirlwind ride that the past year has been, including her response to criticisms on her personal image and about why landing a magazine cover, receiving media coverage and having a Grammy nominated artist offer to produce her album isn’t what “it’s” all about. Morrison also sheds some light on the fear she felt when going solo and how that decision alone allows for her to relate to Diaz who recently decided to go solo as well.
La Cover Girl
It’s crazy. I am no longer close to 21 years old! I can’t believe I’m actually getting older. I really don’t feel any wiser but this past year alone has definitely been a ride. I think the highlight of it all has been my collaboration with Natalia Lafourcade. I really did not expect that to happen at all but now I’m sleeping over at her place, recording with her and working with her a lot. It’s definitely been one busy and amazing year.
I know this year has been very rewarding for me and being around so many talented people has been amazing, but it’s taken me longer than that to get to where I am now. I started since I was 16 years old trying to get into music, and now at 24 I’m barely starting to see the beginning of it actually happen. Some people have referred to me as the next promise of Mexico, but it hasn’t really hit me yet. I’m not really aware of it. I still think that I’m another local artist but when I go to certain places to play and one hundred people are waiting to take a picture with me, than that’s when I think “This is crazy!”. People stare at me in public places like if they want to approach me. They say that I’m part of this new movement and maybe I am. I don’t know. I hope so. Maybe when the years pass and I’m looking back to now, I’ll realize that I was part of something that I thought wouldn’t happen for another five or maybe ten years.
I was on the cover of a Tijuana magazine recently… It’s my first magazine cover so that was pretty cool! All of the young people over there read the publication to find out what’s going on in the area so it was a pretty big deal. When I was approached for the interview I didn’t think much of it. But then I found out that they were thinking about making it the cover piece so that was crazy! But even though I think that that type of media attention is great and important for artists, I don’t think that it’s everything. It’s nice and I’m super appreciative of it but there are more important things, I think. Rehearsing and getting my music together is what I focus on the most. It’s why people go to my shows, and not because of some article that someone wrote about me. People are expecting to hear my music and I need to make sure that I deliver. And that’s what’s important: the music and the fans.
Although I have a lot of fans that support me, some people can be mean. People call me a lot of names. They tell me “Hey, aren’t you gonna loose weight for your next record?” It affects me but not in the negative way. The way I see it, this is the package that I have and I feel happy and healthy this way. I’m not overweight at all, I’m just an average person. Just because I’m in the music industry doesn’t mean that I have to be stick skinny. I see chunky girls sing all the time and they’re amazing artists. I think that a lot of musicians have self-image issues because their constantly under pressure to look a certain way. We get criticized for everything from our music to the way we look. But whether or not you’re a musician, people will always find something to pick at.
Now that I’m older, I’m learning to accept myself as I am and I’m learning to ignore those comments. If I want to loose weight it’ll be on my terms and my time and not because people want to see me look a certain way. I won’t pressure myself to loose x amount of weight in x amount of time. I’ll do it the healthy way and on my own pace.
I don’t really hang out with a lot of people, at least that’s the case with me here in Tecate. It’s such a little place and most people have day jobs and I don’t. Making music is my job. But when I go to Mexico City I hang out with a lot of musicians. The Hello Seahorse people, Natalia, Julieta and sometimes Ely Guerra. It’s cool and super nice to be around them and learn from them. But at the same time I try to not let myself get influenced by their music so much. I still listen to my own stuff, to music that I find online that interests me and I really try to keep it my own. I think it’s better that way, for now at least.
It’s scary to think that all of this could have not been. I left my previous band to follow my own dreams and make my own music. And that’s one major thing that I have in common with Pilar Diaz. [Her former band] Los Abandoned was a great band, but she pursued her dream just like I did and now she’s making music that is so enjoyable. Every time I hear her sing I feel as if I were in a park full of flowers…it’s really happy music. I’m glad she made that decision because a lot of times we hold back from doing what we really want to do because we’re scared. But I think that if you really want something, then you should just go for it regardless. Unfortunately some people don’t do that. I know a lot of people who don’t follow their hearts and just stick to something because that’s what they know. But I didn’t choose that path, neither did Pilar. I did what my heart was asking for. Fear was the only thing that was holding me back and I knew coming into this that I would be scared most of the time but I did it anyway.
I’m really excited about sharing the stage with her at the acoustic show. I’ve never really thought about collaborating with her or anything like that to tell you the truth. Every time I listen to her music I just hear her voice and I never picture my voice with hers. But it would be nice to do something with her. I see more and more females involved in the arts and becoming more and more successful at it as well. It almost seems as though people are barely starting to turn their heads to notice us even though we’ve been around just as long! Some of us are even more talented that some guys, I think. We’re more passionate about even the little things and that shows in our music. Even when we wash clothes we’re passionate about it because the clothes are for our sons, or our dads or our boyfriends…we just think like that. And that’s what people will see in the show on Friday: passionate women doing what they love. We deserve this space just for us totally and 100%.
Don’t miss Carla Morrison and Pilar Diaz’s live performances this Friday, July 23rd at El Gallo Plaza in East Los Angeles.
See you there.