Ximena Sariñana Talks "Shine Down", P.T. Anderson Movies, and More
Mon, 14 Nov 2011 08:56:54
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Ximena Sariñana has something magical.
Her self-titled new album encapsulates a daring indie spirit inside irresistible pop hooks, making for one undeniable listening experience. She's got a strangely soothing voice that flutters over intriguing instrumentation. Not only does she have that uncanny uniqueness tastemakers die for, she's got the ability to carry a chorus to mainstream supremacy. It's the perfect combination…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino, Ximena talks her new, self-titled album, the story behind "Shine Down", Paul Thomas Anderson movies, and so much more.
What's the story behind "Shine Down"?
Lyrically, it talks about when you feel like somebody is expecting something from you and you're not meeting their expectations. It's that feeling somebody wants to depend on you, and you're not very dependable at that time. That's what the song is about. Dave Sitek [TV on the Radio, Producer] basically showed me the track, and it stood out immediately. I was inspired, and I came up with a melody, wrote lyrics, and recorded it. It was our first collaboration. We were excited about it, and that made us want to keep working together. Dave did two songs, and Greg Kurstin [The Bird and the Bee] did most of it. He's really cool too.
Does working with different producers round out the sound more?
On my first record, I also used three different producers. I like branching out a little bit because I listen to a ton of music and I have a lot of influences. I want to try to showcase all of my influences on a record. I just feel that sometimes different producers help you do that.
Where did the idea for the "Shine Down" music video come from?
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez [Director, The Mars Volta] came up with that concept for the music video. He thought if we made a really simple video that showcases Mexico City's underground club scene and me singing with my iPod, it would be a really cool idea. It morphed into that. We got a really hip and cool bar in Mexico where a lot of bands play. It was awesome to do a video there. People can see what the underground club world is like.
Is it important for you to include a surreal, larger-than-life element?
That in particular is emblematic of Omar's style as a filmmaker. If you get the chance to see any of his movies, they all have a surreal quality or characteristic. I was happy he was up to making a video.
Do you aim to tell stories and paint pictures with your songs?
I'm a big fan of metaphor. I love the images that words evoke for me. The way the words sound to me is very important for my image creation. It's definitely important for me. I come from a filmmaker's background so images and words are very successful when they're put together in the right way.
What encourages that visual sensibility for you?
I read a lot. Reading is something that I've done for a long time. I've been an actress for a long time. I'm very into reading scripts, watching movies, and studying the process of moviemaking. Both elements have inspired me in my writing.
Is making an album like making a movie?
I like to think about it that way. I like being in control of my stuff. I take a lot of influence in seeing how movies are made. They're really a collaborative effort. Even if you wanted to do everything yourself, you're always going to need somebody to hold the camera for you. I love collaboration. Making a record is always a collaboration between producer, songwriter, and musicians. Then there's the artwork and video. It's all really important.
Which books or authors do you come back to?
I'm really into Milan Kundera. I think he's amazing. He's a way of making his characters so real, and he can portray a philosophical idea that he really feels strongly at the same time through manipulating their lives. He has a very cerebral and intelligent style of writing. The Unbearable Lightness of Being was my favorite book in the whole world.
What's up with "Different"?
I wrote "Different" with Tim Armstrong of Rancid. I wanted to write about the experience of working in another country and how that made me feel alienated and empowered at times. I translate that to other areas of my life where I felt misunderstood or misinterpreted. It's like an apology to everybody who doesn't get me. We all have different ways of being, but at the bottom, we all come from the same place and are equals.
If your album were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
I don't know! That's a tough question. I would need to think about that a little more. I'd love to say a poppier version of a Paul Thomas Anderson movie. He combines beautiful photography with amazing scripts. The scripts are spot-on and the characters are amazing while the visual side is brilliant. The music is always a really important part of it. I love it that each movie of his has a specific style. He's definitely the best director of this generation for me.
Have you heard Ximena yet?