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Interview with Francisca Valenzuela about the new album,  La Fortaleza

Chilean-American singer/songwriter/model/fashion CEO/activist Francisca Valenzuela is a creative machine who continues to surprise us with one hit after another – bilingual songs that are earworms but also make you think. Her most recent album is packed with 14 varied tunes, all fun, all meaningful.

Now she has released a video of her inspiring single from the album, “Ven a Buscarlo” – “Come Find It in English”.  Co-directed with her collaborator on “ Flotando”, Sebastián Soto Chacón,  the video brings back the freedom of the hippie movement of the 60’s with modern themes of female power and multicultural love, all in a party atmosphere (and a great vintage American muscle car).  I interviewed Francisca on Music Sin Fronteras radio in March about the album.  As the new video pushes past 500,000 views on YouTube, we decided to edit the interview for print to offer her insight into the phenomenon that is La Fortaleza.

Patrick.  A lot has happened since we talked last. I have seen you in concert in LA, and followed you on line not only musically, but in your other endeavors. So when you released Heroes, I said to myself that this is a great musical portrait of Francisca  –  strong, accomplished, proud and self-confident. Has that person – the hero – been rising inside you since your last album, or was she always there and the time was right to emerge.

Francisca. I think it has been building and it is still building. I am sure it is a result of being a hero, of being so strong and having the confidence …that the ability to see that positive side of myself is here finally.  That is what has happened in the last couple of years.  We have all of that, that power to be strong, to be our best self, to accept ourselves to be our own heroes.  That is what the song is about. That came with time and maturity and experience and growth.

Patrick. This album, La Fortaleza, is big – 14 songs – and feels like a call to action.  Is the underlying message of this album that it is time for that revolution and it how it must come from within women?

la f. albumFrancisca. It is a call to action and transformation and its individual and collective, and it is not just women– it is for everyone, everyone who feels compelled to be active and to grow and transform.  It is a call to all of us to reconstruction and to consider what it is to be strong.  It is an invitation to change what we have been taught for so about that paradigm of strength.  Because as you are is strong and beautiful and you are not just a kind of idea of what is strong.  the person who is the hero.  It is a call to look into yourself.  And the album is about vulnerability and the bravery of showing yourself and connecting with yourself and being strong in that vulnerability.  And the idea that we are strong as a collective, about how we as a society can grow, and  how do we find that balance where we can be free and grow and empathize and be connected

 Patrick The line in the song “Heroe”: There is no day that I do not face/ The villain who lives inside.   Who is the villain inside?

Francisca. Ourselves really, I think the battles are outside and within.  I wrote that song when I was struggling in a bad moment.  It was how I was approaching it myself and also getting over myself and letting myself become a better person with myself.  I was imaging that that villain was myself, my own enemy was me.  That can happen, it is the idea that we are our worst enemy.  I am not going to listen to that bad side and not let it take away my freedom and joy.

Patrick.  Stephen Stills once told me that when he walked out onstage in front of thousands of people he was terrified until he started singing. Does that ever happen to you?

Francisca. Wow, that is the very precise feeling.  I get that all the time.  Even more so before, like on a very bad day when I had to go on stage and perform, where you have to believe in yourself, it is the biggest nightmare at all, like I want to go home.  But the more I relax and give in to the emotional part of performing and feeling as a I sing or write,  the more I can enjoy and let go of those demons onstage.  I identify with that story, there have been times when I was on stage and physically sick but If I am really connected to the song, the nausea will go away.  It is the ability to be vulnerable and strong – that duality you talked about.  We are all looking for that connection, that moment.

Patrick. I feel like that “La Fortaleza”, and many of your songs, mix the personal and the general – that you offer your life as a model, you have become a calm force and you offer it to others. Is that what is happening in “La Fortaleza”?

Francisca,  That analysis makes so much sense, but when I was writing that song I was not thinking necessarily about the rest .  It sounds kind of selfish, but I write from a confessional place, for myself, not others.  I imagine someone else can connect to it, but I am not necessarily writing for other people. when I take a step back, I see the potential for having to do with something outside of me.  if I try to write for other people as an abstractor outside myself, I get nervous, it feels weird, it feels more posed – this song is about feeling that way, but also about trying to feel that way. I very seldom think to myself “Yeah! I got this. I am so strong.”

Patrick. The where did the title come from?

Francisca. The idea of “La Fortaleza” came from a painting by Botticelli, of The Virtues and there is only one woman in the painting, La Fortaleza, and I love the idea of the painting of her as being both strong and soft.  That is where the lyrics come from, strong and of being wood and resilient and also being soft.

Patrick O’Hefferan

La Fortaleza, released 2020 now streaming on Spotify and available on all online platforms

“Ven A Buscarlo” is streaming on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHSRw6U6KJA

Francisca Valezuela  https://www.facebook.com/franciscamusic/



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About Patrick O'Heffernan, Music Sin Fronteras (485 Articles)
Patrick O’Heffernan, PhD., is a music journalist based in Mexico, with a global following. He focuses on music in English and Spanish that combines rock and rap, blues and jazz and pop with music from Latin America, especially Mexico like cumbia, banda, son jarocho, and mariachi. He is also edits a local news website and is a subeditor of a local Spanish language newspaper. Check out his weekly column Music Sin Frontera on Sunday nights.

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