Friday, April 13, 2007

Interview with Julieta Venegas

She is an unlikely pop star, Julieta Venegas, especially in the Latin music world. She plays the accordion, for God's sake. She even calls herself geeky, though pretty but slightly awkward chica next door is probably more accurate.

There's definitely no ostentatious cleavage or babelicious mincing in her videos or appearances. Instead, she's romancing a werewolf in a silent film-style satire, or playing accordion with old school Norteño legends Los Tigres del Norte.

Even her songs are spiked with complicated sentiments and sharp observations -- in Limón y Sal (Lime and Salt), the title of her latest CD, she proclaims at the very beginning, ''I'm so sick of love songs.'' That's a sacrilegious statement in Latin culture.

''I don't see myself as a pop star so I don't have to follow that pattern,'' Venegas says. ``I don't see myself as a sex bomb and I'm not interested in being one. I just try to act the way that feels natural to me.''

Natural has been surprisingly successful for Venegas, who's an anomaly in the Latin pop world: An independent, self-defined female songwriter who puts her art above her sex appeal yet still has had significant mainstream success.

She plays her first South Florida concert Saturday night at the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach.

Born in Southern California to Mexican parents and raised in Tijuana, the 36-year-old Venegas became an underground star on the Latin alternative scene at the end of the 1990s with introspective, dark, and daringly experimental songs that had some critics comparing her to English language alternative idols like PJ Harvey and Bjork.
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