As many of us know, Te Quiero Mucho means I love you in Spanish. Those three words can be pretty powerful. In the harsh political climate we are living in today, it may seem like all the love we should have for one another is buried beneath so much prejudice and hate. Dallas based artist CAMÍNA’s new album titled Te Quiero Mucho explores the dark turn the world has taken as she remarks on the country’s current politics. There is so much more to the release though than just that. In this reflective album she also touches on vulnerable subjects of deep love and loss.
Branching out from her typical indie style, within Te Quiero Mucho she fuses eccentric electronic sounds with traditional Mexican music. Crafting a highly original flair, her colorful and thought-provoking offerings sweep you away to another world. Get to know CAMÍNA and her album inspirations below.
Your debut EP Te Quiero Mucho is a Latin-infused album that also features elements of trip-hop and is sung in both English and Spanish. What inspired the offering’s eclectic sound?
I originally set out to make two EP’s, one in English and one in Spanish. During the making of them both, they began to form a narrative and take on a life of their own that melded well together. I could see them naturally fit together like a puzzle that completes itself—which never happens. In this case, I used lo-fi samples of South American bolero singers from the 40’s and 50’s and worked with my brilliant producer Black Taffy to create the CAMÍNA sound.
YOU NAMED YOUR ALBUM AFTER A PHRASE YOU WOULD REPEAT TO YOUR DOG AS SHE WAS RECEIVING CHEMOTHERAPY TREATMENTS. HOW DID REPEATING THAT PHRASE HELP YOU DURING THAT DIFFICULT TIME IN YOUR LIFE?
At the time of writing Te Quiero Mucho, my beloved dog Olivia was diagnosed with cancer, which was heartbreaking. Taking care of her became my number one priority. I took her to get her chemotherapy treatments once a week and then acupuncture every other week. I became obsessed with cooking all of her meals and giving her the best care I could. I have been saying “te quiero mucho” to her since she was a puppy. It was “our” phrase and now that I look back on our time together, I see this phrase as a comfort for us both—every time I say it, I think of her. She was the best thing that ever happened to me and this EP is dedicated to her. She was my ride or die for 13 years.
The EP’s message is one that is so relevant in today’s political climate, shedding light on the struggles many immigrants face. What message do you hope listeners can take away from this highly empowering release?
The willful ignorance of our current administration must not be tolerated and it should strengthen our resolve to rise up and fight against the injustice and casual violence against Black and brown bodies!
Te Quiero Mucho commences with the song “Cinnamon” which showcases a marimba-infused trip-hop style and takes inspiration from treatment of asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border. Can you tell us a little bit more about what inspired you to write this song?
“Cinnamon” is an audiovisual anthem. It is an acknowledgement of the past and a plea for the future. It is about the resilience of people throughout human history and how they get back on their feet and rise again.
“Forever and Always” is a cry to those that have past away. Have you ever lost someone really close to you and if so was creating the track a therapeutic release?
“Forever and Always” is a ballad I wrote for my dog Olivia that passed away. I wrote it the day after she died as I was writing her obituary. The tears and words flowed right out me. I am so happy her memory will live on in this song. It brings me great joy every time I hear it now. I think of all of the special moments we shared together and how she taught me how to slow down and be more present.
The EP concludes with the track “Se Puede”. The song highlights a three-part harmony and passionate vocals overlaying a trio of bolero singers lamenting an unrequited love. What was the process like when crafting this striking track?
I have a deep love for traditional bolero singers. They have a unique way of harmonizing with such sadness that penetrates the soul. I had originally decided before going into the studio that I was not going to use this song. I felt like my voice did not blend well with the sample because I was trying to sing in the same register as they were. However, once I took it an octave higher and became operatic with my voice, it added to the drama of this devastating track. We stacked my vocals in a three-part harmony to mimic theirs and it came together—a lot of the vocal approach on this EP is about restraint and letting the music have its space. Placement became very important to me throughout the production process.
On Te Quiero Mucho you collaborated with long time friend and producer Black Taffy. Can you tell me more about what that partnership was like?
I have known Donovon Jones aka Black Taffy since high school. He is brilliant and so easy to work with. It also helps that I am a huge fan of his work and respect the hell out of what he has done with Black Taffy. I feel so grateful we have stayed in touch for all these years and created the CAMÍNA sound together. CAMÍNA would not exist without him and his encouragement.
On the topic of collaborations, if you could work with any artist of your choosing who would it be and why?
Oh man, this is a hard question! A lot of my musical heroes have passed but I would choose Brian Eno for his work he did with the Talking Heads which blew my mind when I first heard that band and their sound, and Dr. Dre because he is THE MASTER.
I understand when you were younger you sang in the church choir and were mentored by Kevin Jonas Sr., father of the Jonas Brothers. How has that time in your life shaped you as an artist?
I spoke with KJ Sr. recently and thanked him for mentoring me at such a young age. He introduced me to the world of recording and taught me about the business of music. Although much has changed since then, I learned to be disciplined in my approach and developed confidence in live performance when I sang with him. He is one of my biggest cheerleaders and it has been incredible to have his support.
Finally, you have been doing a bit of traveling recently, including an ongoing sabbatical in the New Mexico mountains, how have these life-changing experiences helped to facilitate your creativity?
I moved to New Mexico to isolate so I could focus on writing this EP. This land is so sacred and special, the arid climate, with the stunning sunsets,, and wonderful community of creative people make it the perfect place for me to find inspiration. I do not think I could have written this body of work anywhere else.
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photos / courtesy of artist
story / Chloe Robinson