Argentine Folk Singer Soledad Talks New Album, ‘La Gringa’: Interview

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In Argentina and beyond its borders, "La Gringa" leaned into pop to remain in the public eye. Going beyond her folk roots, Soledad Pastorutti is renewing her ties with Latin sounds and rhythms.

In October, she will present her album "La Gringa," produced by Colombian singer-songwriter Carlos Vives. She already revealed its first fruits: the beautiful ballad "Aunque Me Digas Que No," and the title song, in which she professes her Santa Fe identity, conceived by Vives with a cumbia-pop vibe.

She sings: "I am La Sole and I wear the poncho in my own way/ Because my people have always had faith in me/ And although my skin loves the sun of my flag/ They call me 'La Gringa of Santa Fe.'"

Here, Soledad talks to Billboard Argentina:

Explain your classification as a "folk singer."
Folklore is in my way of singing and saying. I hear a chamamé, and I start crying. I can't help it, because I also grew up in the Pampas. But if you go further north, there are other colors and other identities. To a certain point, that's why I take 'La Gringa' now. I am a gringa. I don't have the morochita complexion. I have more characteristics of someone who is the son of an immigrant than of someone who was always here. Getting this album out is like saying, 'Well, I'm that, and I can't deny it. My great-grandparents were all Italian.

You experienced the industry's transformation. Did you analyze every moment like you do now?
I think today, I analyze a little more. I worry more than before about not getting swept into a tide and ceasing to be. I try to understand what happens. And I ask myself, 'Where am I in all that?' I do not say that everything I lived so far will be dropped, but I need to reinvent myself.

Because the cutest thing that happened to me is to see a grandfather or grandmother going to see me with their grandchildren. Today, I have the public's grandson or granddaughter, and that grandfather or grandmother is gone. And those grandchildren come to see me not only because of what I do, but because it leads them to the memory of their grandparents. But those grandchildren are already my age, and I'm about to turn 39. What will happen to those grandchildren and those who come later?

What does Carlos Vives tell you about it?
He is one of the few examples I can cite of people who, being able to do what they want, are still themselves. Carlos Vives is Carlos Vives singing with Sebastian Yatra or with anyone. The same thing happened to Carlos, and we connected. He told me: "I was not morochito either: I was white." He was a soap opera actor, and he began to sing vallenatos. It wasn't easy for Carlos, but he made his music go out to the world.

In Argentina, we don't get our cumbia to be heard all over the world yet. Where I come from, Santa Fe, we have Los Palmeras, Los Lirios, and we grew up listening to those songs sung by people here. They seem ours. In fact, I just recorded "La Suavecita" with Los Palmeras, which is a classic, and it's amazing everything that happened in just two or three days with that tune on the streaming platforms.

At first, it seemed that what you were doing wasn't going to be exported.
For our way of thinking, supposedly not. But I still believe it is possible. I think of music as a wheel: the wheel of fortune. There are people who are in the same car all the time. The wheel is spinning, and at some point, it is up or down. And then there are people who are changing cars to see if they can continue up there.

Mind you, in neither case does that assure you of success. I believe that the true success of an artist is to be genuine and happy with what they propose. In doing what they like, without having to worry about pleasing the rest.

Did that ever happen to you?
Of course. It happened to me, and it still happens to me, because when I enter a massive level, there are strategies that have to do with the present. Today, it happens that what is seen weighs more, many times, than what is heard. I say "Everything is fine, you have to be visible," because I can't get entrenched. Because I live from this, I am my own industry, and I have a lot of people behind me.

But there are things that I would not change, no matter how much they assured me. For example: I know that there are certain photos on Instagram that can generate so many likes. But what helps me is that they want to listen to me live. Maybe we are facing a paradigm shift, because today it also matters how much people follow you on Instagram and what is the business there.

But when I translate it to television, since I was in several reality shows, I get it much better. Why if a program like La Voz was number one rating, in 2018, all the artists who left there did not have a better chance of sustaining a career? Why does it cost them so much later? Because the fire is not in the artist: it is in the television product.