The 'El Tiny' Questionnaire: Carin León
To celebrate Alt.Latino's "El Tiny" takeover of NPR's Tiny Desk series, we asked a few of the artists contributing performances to answer our "El Tiny" questionnaire. These answers have been edited for length and clarity and translated into English.
Artist Name: Carin León
Country of Origin: Mexico
Genre: Regional Mexican
Any musician, living or dead, who would you invite over for a cafecito? José Alfredo Jiménez, because of the way that he wrote. It's so simple but so real. I think he has some of the most natural and heartfelt compositions that I've heard in my life. [They are songs that] connect with any audience, that anyone can understand, but they have so much significance, so much content inside of them.
One album that always reminds you of home — whatever that means to you. Tríptico (Vol. 3) from señor Silvio Rodríguez. It brings me a warm feeling of home. We were a family of few shoes and the truth is that at this moment, thank God, life smiles on us differently and we realize that happiness isn't [having money]. Oftentimes, we were even happier [then], when we didn't have two nickels to rub together.
If I weren't a musician, I'd be a(n) ____. Music took us by the hand in a very natural, very casual way and it never let us go, so I can't imagine doing something that isn't music. I think that it would have to be something related to art as well, or with video game development. It's one of the harder hobbies I have. Or, I don't know, a filmmaker or a photographer or something that would have to do with art, because for me art is the blood of everyday life.
Dream place to tour: I love playing in my country in Mexico, and I also really enjoy playing in the United States. But there is a music that I've really fallen in love with: I really like the popular music of Spain. I really appreciate its folkloric sounds and I love flamenco. Spain also has a very exacting audience. The truth is that we want to, somehow, start winking at the Spanish public, and I think that it would be a very big dream to be able to realize a small tour throughout Spain.
What are you listening to right now? I am one of those people who [gets] up and the first thing I do is take a shower and always with music. I put on a playlist with señor Silvio Rodríguez, Billy Joel, music from José Alfredo Jiménez, from Pedro Infante, from don [Joan] Sebastián, from Pepe Aguilar. Right now I'm very into an album that's called ANTI-ICON, by an artist that's named GHOSTEMANE, which I highly recommend.
Is there a part of your creative process — a piece of gear, a tool, a technique — that you've adopted recently? How has it impacted your art? I think more than any technique, the sincerity that I've now been allowed to show in my music and in my sound [has permitted me] to experiment with sounds that weren't possible before in my genre, or that people were very closed off to. [They] believed ... that regional music often isn't for everyone and was for a niche popular audience. The fact that we can defend Mexico's folkloric music, but people also allow us to experiment, that they allow us to make our music bigger and enrich it and that the public, critics and media outlets like Tiny Desk, give us the opportunity to share with you our hearts and souls ... I think sincerity has changed everything in my music.
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