“In Latin America, we have succeeded, after a fashion, in conceiving and creating a world in which values, far from being stifled by the clash of opposites, are given new life through lively communication and recognition of the multicultural reality.” The reality that Carlos Fuentes describes summarises perfectly the essence of Sophie Fustec’s project, LA CHICA. It’s this “multicultural reality” between Latin America and France, between Belleville (the Parisian neighbourhood), and Venezuela that gave birth to her compositions, lyrics and style.
La Chica reunites these two worlds through her music by using a collage of textured sounds that she’s taken from her origins and diverse modern influences to break boundaries. Her world revolves around the piano and keyboard, skillfully mixing classical inspirations, like her admiration for Debussy, with the dense intensity of analogue synths. She doesn’t need to hide behind any gimmicks, instead, her basic emotions are conveyed through abstract thoughts and poetic self-reflection.
Sophie Fustec was born in Paris to her Venezuelan mother and French father. She grew up in Belleville, a neighbourhood in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, as well as Merida, in the west of Venezuela where she regularly went to see relatives on her mother’s side. Sophie started playing music at a young age. First the violin, then the piano, which she went on to study for 13 years at the Conservatoire de Paris, a prestigious music and dance college.
After studying sound engineering at ESRA International Audiovisual School in Paris, she started playing with artists that were already well-established in France. As a backing vocalist and piano player, she had the opportunity to tour with Zap Mama, Mayra Andrade, Pauline Croze and Yaël Naim, gathering significant experience on stage.
In 2010, Sophie started the group 3SOMESISTERS with Bastien Picot, Florent Matéo and Anthony Winzenrieth. They played a concert at the Philharmonie de Paris in 2017, who described their style as “drawing on the varied traditions of vocal polyphony, electropop, and jazz, the 3somesisters are used to doing unexpected covers.” The group released 3 EPs, toured all around France and won the FAIR prize in 2017. 3SOMESISTERS are known by most for Sophie’s powerful yet gentle vocals.
LA CHICA, her first solo project, began in 2013 behind closed doors and stayed that way for a number of years. The project started to take off in 2015 when shared the music video for the song “Oasis”, which was directed by Ma-Ké, member of the collective Temple Caché. Oasis is a quirky puzzle, mixing together diverse influences. The video already has almost 250,000 views on YouTube. About the song, Sophie said, “it would be surreal if people really knew what goes through my head when I look at them.” Following critical acclaim from the French press including L’Express, Nova, RFI and FIP, she released a 5-track EP named after the song OASIS in January 2017.
Her music is a melting pot of musical influences, touching on the indie pop of Tune Yards or Radiohead, on US hip hop like Danger Doom and The Roots, on Latin American artists such as La Fania All Stars or Juana Molina, but also on The Beatles and classical musicians like Claude Debussy.
LA CHICA is releasing her debut album, CAMBIO, meaning “change”. A poignant and raw album without completely moving away from the lucid soul-searching that defined her previous releases. She states without any ambiguity her yearning to change, to even become a new being.
Lyrically, she’s been inspired by what’s going on in the real world, particularly the latest crisis in Venezuela. Through her distinct compositions, she’s created an album of contrasts, flipping from joyful war chants to whispering poems.
The evolution between OASIS and the upcoming album is clear when you listen to the joyous rhythm of the first single, “DRINK” (released on May 15th 2018). Willing to pay “respects to those who’ve left us” there’s the impression that this song was submerged by a trance-like South-American rhythm where you can’t help but dance. On the album, there’s also “SOLA” that has a downbeat melody that is magnetically infused with deep empathy, whereas the banging chorus of “THE SEA” touches on hip hop.
The record is groovy yet delicate, combining synths with overlapping harmonies that support the richness and versatility of her voice. Sophie says that “the project is a collage of different cultures and textured sounds.” It was composed, arranged and recorded at her home studio in Paris, co-produced with Romain Joutard and Julien Grenier from EOS Records, mixed by Lionel Capouillez at Studio Air in Brussels and mastering in the UK by Mike Marsh.
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