JazzReview.com: This is your third CD and your MAXJAZZ debut. Why did you choose MAXJAZZ?
Claudia Acuña: At the time my relationship with Verve finished, from all the people that either they approached me or I approached them . . . MAXJAZZ offered me artistic freedom and a lot of support in the way that I need . . .
JazzReview.com: Did they give you more freedom?
Claudia Acuña: I don’t give up very easy with the things I believe . . . MAXJAZZ signed me for the artist that I am . . .
JazzReview.com: What is your vision?
Claudia Acuña: I think the music speaks by itself and very strongly. The vision of just singing and doing do music the way I feel at the times that I feel. And, life goes so different ways every day.
JazzReview.com: What are the three most important things to you in life?
Claudia Acuña: Little bit too short list for such a strong world, life. Music, love (pause) music, love and peace of mind.
JazzReview.com: What gives you peace of mind?
Claudia Acuña: Music. Anything, you know. Just sometimes to be sitting in front of the ocean . . . The fact for me to just sit down in front of the ocean sometimes brings me peace.
JazzReview.com: You grew up in Chile. Were you an only child? Did you have lots of brothers or sisters?
Claudia Acuña: I have two brothers. Two brothers younger than me . . . part of my life I grew up in my grandfather’s house. I grew up with 3 or 4 of my cousins.
JazzReview.com: What made you decide to be a singer?
Claudia Acuña: It is a very mysterious thing because I cannot recall not wanting to sing. It was something I always wanted to do very early - very, very early in my life. Sometimes I hear stories from my aunt or my mother like [where] I was four years old, three years old . . . before I even spoke, I was just mumbling melodies. It’s something that I’ve been very blessed because I’ve always had this passion and love for music and wanted to be a singer. And, since I can remember, I knew I was going to do this. And, you know that’s a blessing because sometimes people go through long periods not knowing exactly what they want to do. So, I don’t know, you know. For a long time I thought that maybe I was a reincarnation of someone that came to finish something that she or he didn’t finish before or didn’t do before. I don’t know, you know. But, just the spirit music that . . . touched my soul in this life and make me do this. But, I never remember not wanting to do this.
JazzReview.com: Do you feel driven?
Claudia Acuña: Driven?
JazzReview.com: Something you have to do?
Claudia Acuña: Yeah and I wanted to do to fulfill my heart and my soul and give me freedom.
JazzReview.com: But, have you given up a lot for it? Any sacrifices?
Claudia Acuña: Well, I don’t know. I don’t like to put that drama on it, because there is already a lot of drama sometimes in people’s lives and I’m not any exception. But, if you want to (pause) yeah, I have sacrificed. I moved far away from my family for certain periods because I was so determined to fight for what I want. Certain relationships got a little bit finished or distant, you know. But, time cured. And, time is a beautiful thing and time cured things and cleaned things and bring the people who need to be close, anyway.
JazzReview.com: You left Chile. Did you feel that you couldn’t seek your musical opportunities there?
Claudia Acuña: Chile is a small country and because of many other reasons, it’s not New York, you know. And, it’s not a jazz capital. It’s not a capital of the arts. In a way I’ve been very envisioned. I’ve had that driven in me. When I grew up and started learning about this music style and how much I really love it and the people who that perform and practice this art and where they developed so much art. It was New York. In the movies and the musicals that I used to watch on TV at home, early again - I knew that at some point I was going to go to New York, even if it was just to visit. But, I wanted to be in that place. I wanted to feel that energy and at least remember as an old lady, "Yes, I went to New York and . . . (laughing)."
JazzReview.com: New York for you represented the fulfillment of a dream?
Claudia Acuña: Part of it, yes . . . New York is such a unique place. It sounds corny and I know a lot of people have said this, but it’s the truth - there’s no place like New York . . . so unique . . .
JazzReview.com: What made you choose jazz?
Claudia Acuña: The freedom, maybe? And, I like different styles of music. Early in my life I played some of the classical music, rock, folk music, Chilean folk music. But, early in my life I found jazz, but I didn’t really know it was a music called by that name. I just [remember] watching those musicals and sometimes listening to certain radios and they were playing songs here in there and then later on when I got into the freedom, the improvisation . . .
JazzReview.com: Was jazz in your home?
Claudia Acuña: Well, it was. People really followed the music. It’s like around the world people follow styles of music. The family that I come from, they never really pursued or followed any styles of music. They would just listen to music. . . First of all, my family didn’t want me to be a musician and then jazz - they always had this vision of jazz as music for elite people, like classical. I always thought it was wrong. But, you know, it all depends where you grew up and the things society put in your head.
JazzReview.com: Do you see yourself as a poet?
Claudia Acuña: I’m an artist. I’ve been blessed to be able to practice the art and the form that I’ve always loved is the music. Through the music, I’ve discovered that I can write, I can be a composer. I can be many things that I wish I had more strength and confidence to develop. But, maybe in the future I will.
JazzReview.com: Do you like writing the music or the lyrics better?
Claudia Acuña: Both. I think melodies come much easier than lyrics for me sometimes.
JazzReview.com: Do you play piano?
Claudia Acuña: No, I wouldn’t say that.
JazzReview.com: You play some percussion instruments, I think?
Claudia Acuña: A little.
JazzReview.com: Your voice is your instrument a very beautiful instrument. It’s almost as if when you’re on the stage that you’re an antenna for energy. It’s if you’re transformed to somewhere else . . .
Claudia Acuña: Music has always been a tool, a very strong tool for me to express things. Maybe that’s why it comes so strong. I don’t know.
JazzReview.com: Are you shy and soft-spoken by nature?
Claudia Acuña: Yeah and actually I used to be even softer than that and people used to make fun of me when I moved to New York . . . no one could hear me. Lately, the past year I’ve been taking voice lessons for the first time and she has helped me a lot . . . even now that I’ve learned more about how to use better my voice, I still speak very soft unless I get mad or very excited about the conversation.
JazzReview.com: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Claudia Acuña: Five years? Hopefully, I’ll be recording . . . I’ll have three or four more records. Hopefully, I’ll be more confident and surer, more confident and not so insecure in my personality and things. I would love to be more successful and reach out to more people. Play with certain people that I dream to hopefully work and maybe do more music for short films and things like that.
JazzReview.com: Tell me briefly about Luna.
Claudia Acuña: Luna is (pause) . . . My records have been very strong in telling the period that I am. I don’t try to force a concept. Luna is a translation in a way a very hard period, but in a way, a very, very openly. I stopped holding back and started opening, almost like the flowers in spring. So, I took a big chance to do a record that didn’t have any standards . . . eleven songs. Nine are in Spanish . . . Luna tells a lot of stories about dreams, hopes. Hopes for finding peace and love in the world . . . I get very upset when I see how we are destroying our world hoping that I’ll find the love that I need to find a partner and have a family.
I wrote a song for my niece, Carita De Luna, Little Moonface . . . I’m far away from my family and I miss my nieces and nephews growing up. Kids change every day. I have pictures of them allover this thing that I made in my kitchen, my favorite place in the house . . . I’m a very romantic person and very idealistic. The things that I wish for me are very simple. I just want to sing for the rest of my life become a better and better musician . . . Of course, no different than any other woman in the world, I want to have a family.
JazzReview.com: Our thanks to Claudia Acuña for meeting us and to MAXJAZZ for making this interview possible.