Feature: Musicians Around The World, Part 1: Florencia Cano

The Musicians Around The World feature is devoted to chronicling the lives of both Uruguayan who are traveling abroad, and foreign performers who come to Uruguay in order to promote and develop their art.

In the first part of this feature, I had the chance to speak with young Uruguayan singer/composer Florencia Cano. She is going to travel through the US shortly with some friends, and she will take advantage of the time she spends there to try and promote her music in what is undoubtedly the biggest market in the world.

Florencia Cano

Florencia Cano

Q: First of all thank you so much for your time. I’d like to ask you to introduce yourself to all the readers of MusicKO.

A: Thank you for the chance to do this. My name is Florencia Cano, and I was born in Montevideo (Uruguay). I love singing, and I come from a musicians’ family. My father is a jazz musician, and my mother was part of many different rock bands in the ‘60s. I was always attracted to music, but it was only when I became 20 that I realized how much I liked it, how much I enjoyed singing.

At first I sang pop songs, and the band I was in sort of leaned towards country… it was something that sort of happened whenever we were rehearsing and playing. And that wasn’t really something I enjoyed. Then, I began studying operatic singing. That’s what I really like. It’s what I enjoy signing best. I love fusing it with pop. And since I’m a soprano, I like to take my voice as high as possible, make it explode in high notes and then contrast it with lower passages. I like to take my potential further all the time. I am devoting my life to singing.

Q: I understand that you are developing a style of your very own, that your music is not something that could be labeled in a univocal way. Rather, it could be labeled in multiple ways at once. Can you tell everybody about what you are doing? If possible, could you define it?

A: The thing is, I love music on the whole. I listen to lots of different genres, I appreciate mostly every style that you could listen to. I love tango, and I love rock. I love opera. I’m also fond of Jazz. And I believe I began doing things in a certain way, and that way changed as time went by, simply because I’m in a search process. I like to combine lots of things.

Q: But if you had to pinpoint just a couple of genres, what would they be?

A: Well, nowadays I have a couple of compositions that are a bit reminiscent of Ani DiFranco and Jewel… songs I perform only with my acoustic guitar. These are songs I really enjoy playing, but mostly from a personal point of view. They bring me a lot of calm. They are songs that I like to keep to myself. What I want to share with others are the more operatic numbers, the ones where I combine rock with operatic singing. These are the songs I decorate the most – I love decorating things, making them sparkle… There’s nothing I love best than giving a single song lots and lots of different ambiences.

People have told me that the songs I write are a bit like movies. I begin dealing with something specific, but I end up creating a whole world. My characters are the kind everybody ends up relating to.

Q: So, as a composer you have that gift which someone like Joni Mitchell had of narrating what is personal in a universally-relatable way. Is that the right way to put it?

A: Yes, I like that concept, I like to think we are one and all the same. We all have the very same feelings at some point or other in our lives. That is why there are songs that everybody loves, no matter where they are or which language they speak.

Q: Which brings us to the point of music and language. Sometimes, people end up bonding with a song in a language other than the one they speak because at the end of the day what matters is not what the songs says, but what the song is. Still, I have to ask you: will you keep on writing both in English and in Spanish? Or will you begin focusing only in English?

A: Although English is a language that everybody understands, I value my own language and its heritage. English is interesting because you can say a lot using just a handful of words. But I will always give my songs a Latin touch, simply because it’s important not to lose my identity as a Uruguayan (something of which I’m very proud).

Q: And this brings us to the trip you are going to make soon. You are going to visit some American cities, and you will obviously try to promote your music while you are there. What can you tell us about that?

A: Well, first of all I want to make it clear that I love my own country. I really love its musical diversity. I got the chance to travel abroad because I have many friends the world over, and the fact remains the music I make is really well-liked in other countries. Songs come to me in English in a natural way, and that is the way people perceive them.

Q: And what do you think a musician needs to have not to go unnoticed in a foreign land? How does that apply to you?

A: A lot of strength, a true sense of identity. In my case, I want to emphasize who I am and what I have to give. I like to believe that I’m going to get far, that my music will go down well with others, and that I will keep on writing songs about all which happen to me. Songs telling of the faith I have, of how I believe to keep on traveling this path I’m on, overcoming every obstacle, and learning from it all. I’m remaining loyal to my feelings and all the things I believe in.

Q: And (in finishing) what do you think people will treasure from what you do? What will you treasure from the whole musical experience?

A: Well, no matter who is listening, be it a Uruguayan, an American or whoever it is I know my music is going to be a gift to them all. It is the one gift I can give. Some will like it, and some will dislike it. But it’s the best I can do, the best I can give. And I’d be delighted to do it.

Florencia says these final words with a true beam in her eyes. It’s evident as the interview ends that she is indeed delighted to make music communicating her feelings and the way she sees the world. We talk for quite a while once the interview has ended about art in general, and the endless connections it has with life. And what I treasure myself from our conversation are the words she speaks at one point… “being a musician is like an adventure in which you have to keep on finding yourself, and setting down new goals in order to always achieve your best”. I have no doubt she is going to do that, and inspire many others to do the same as she keeps on walking the path she has begun to tread now.

This is Florencia’s MySpace profile.