She was born an artist into a community of the same. Her mother, screenwriter Carolina Rivera, and father, film director Fernando Sariñana, nurtured her artistic curiosities and supported her music and acting interests casting her in some of their artistic projects such as the 2002 film “Amar te duele” (Love Hurts). After 14 years of film and soap opera work, Ximena Sariñana manifested herself into the world of music with her debut album Mediocre (mediocre), a Spanish indie pop album that contrary to the album’s name, managed to garner good reviews and various award nominations including the 2008 Grammy Award win for Best Latin Rock/Alternative album.
As the young songstress once told us in ’08, Mediocre sprouted from the need to express her musical curiosity and was for her a way to face a new challenge. I caught up with Ximena a few days ago to talk about the new challenge she recently accepted where she makes her sophomore album her debut English album as well.
Ximena Sariñana (Warner Music, 2011), produced by Dave Sitek (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jane’s Addiction), Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen, The Bird and the Bee) and Latin alternative singer, Natalia Lafourcade, is Sariñana’s up-tempo response to her previous work. The album, which hits the states this August, is an 11-track compilation that preserves Mediocre’s autobiographical essence with themes of love and life, and includes a shot-out track to L.A.’s Echo Park, city where most of the album was recorded and where Sariñana spent a majority of her time during the production of it.
Read about her Spanish to English translation below, and about how working with musical greats has helped her overcome some of her personal insecurities.
My career has always been “played by ear”. So when the opportunity of to do an English album presented itself right after all the success with Mediocre, I took it. Warner Music approached me with the idea, which was something I had never even thought about, and I thought that it would be a great challenge.
With this album I made it a point to be as active and as vocal as possible about my opinions because it’s so easy to get overwhelmed by these great producers. Greg Kurstin’s amazingness is so overwhelming that you can easily lay back, enjoy the ride and let him do the work because he’s such that much of a talented producer. Dave Sitek and Natalia Lafourcade are just as incredible and being able to see how their creative works taught me to feel more confident in my own work. Working with them allowed me to try a new musical angle, something more hip and more fun, but still stay true to my own style.
The music industry is so competitive and full of people that are extremely talented that it’s easy to feel out of place sometimes. Even now I still have to remind myself that I am talented because if I weren’t then all the big names that are working with me wouldn’t be. In Ximena Sariña I talk about that sense of feeling out of place with the song “Different”.
I’ve always felt misunderstood because I never did things the “normal” way. I was the child actress that was constantly absent from school and didn’t have a regular class schedule and was the one who would go to music class after school. I always had that sense of being different in my life. But the conclusion of that song, and of my life, is that no matter how different I may seem, I’m just a person like everyone else and that we all come from the same place.
“Echo Park”, holla’
I also wrote a song called “Echo Park”, and that song talks about the clichés with that city. For those who aren’t familiar with Echo Park, it’s like the hip city in L.A. right now. Every city has that type of neighborhood where all the artists or creative people live and hang around. I wanted to have fun with the lyrics and talk about the stereotypical type of guy that is from that area and the girls that fall in love with them, so that’s how that song came about. I also spent a lot of time in Echo Park when I was working on the album and a lot of the musicians that I was working with also lived in that area so I was very aware of the vibe to that neighborhood. It’s a very hip song.
A loss in translation?
Looking back at it now, it was somewhat difficult to write in English because I hadn’t practiced my English writing for a long time. But since I tend to first write the harmonies then the melodies and finally add the lyrics for my songs, it gave me some space and time to think of what to write.
Taking It From “Lovely” to “Fun”
This album also allowed me to do something more up beat. After playing Mediocre for such a long time, almost two years actually, I really wanted to play something that I could dance to and something with more experimentation. So from the moment that the opportunity presented itself I knew I would make an album that was more “fun” than say Mediocre was. It’s an album that although musically is more produced than Mediocre, lyrically still comes from the same honest place in my heart.
Ximena Sariñana “Shine Down”
video uploaded by: XimenaSarinana
You can holla’ out to the live version of “Echo Park” this Saturday at where else other than The Echo. Also, catch Ximena at the free, BMI Sumer Nights concert on Thursday, July 21st where she’ll perform alongside another one of our faves, Carla Morrison.