"...sexy swagger and magnetism and beats...La Chica was one of several of younger female-fronted bands we heard... and she was the most effective, most compelling and one of those artists that definitely has the potential to cross-over the main stream audiences."
— Bob Boilen, Anastasia Tsioulcas, Banning Eyre, Rob Weisberg ALL SONGS CONSIDERED NPR
La Chica Belleville is a music project created by Franco-Venezuelan singer songwriter Sophie Fustec. If magic realism had a soundtrack this could be it: with her hypnotic vocals, Debussy-inspired piano and adept sampling of Latin American percussion she builds "a collage" of colours and moods to achieve a state of trance. Just ahead of the release of her debut album Cambio (Change) she talks to Alison Hird about being saved by music and - trying, however humbly, to do the same for people suffering in Venezuela.
"I need magic, craziness, freedom, I need to dance, to express myself and all this inspiration I can find in Latin America."
La Chica Belleville spent most of her youth in Venezuela; its music and culture are in her blood. But she says she also "needs the modern, urban side too," and feeds on the vibe in Europe especially psychedelic rock, garage, punk and house music from the UK.
Gifting a song of hope to Venezuelans
But with the economic and political crisis in Venezuela in its fifth year, and showing no signs of abating, she's haunted by their suffering.
"People are dying of hunger, they are literally starving." She describes feeling "useless" as a musician. "I cannot change the situation, but I'm praying for change and wishing for a transformation.
In the meantime "all I can do is sing and send some energy and music because music helps and music heals".
The album features a version of El Canto del pilon, a traditional folk song from the Caribbean, popular in Venezuela.
"It's a slave song. They used to used to sing it when they were crushing the corn [with a pestle]. It's a song for hope."
"In moments of darkness in my life, moments of sadness and despair, I've been saved by several songs. So I know the power of music and I'm not the only one. So I'm trying to do that for the people there."
Songs that have saved La Chica:
Cambio is released on 8 February 2019.