Question for you - do you like great new music with a distinctive sound? Of course you do! Well, I recently heard a new singer songwriter, Vanessa Forero and really enjoyed her debut EP, From the Uproar. When listening to new singers, the temptation is to compare with someone you already know and a common comparison for female singer songwriters with a penchant for stripped back songs is Suzanne Vega. However, having listened a few times, I decided that that is just a lazy comparison to make; Vanessa Forero's music doesn't really remind me of anyone at all. From the five songs on the EP, I would say she has a pretty unique sound right now, mainly from the strong Latin sounds created with authentic Colombian instruments.
Although From the Uproar is Forero's debut EP, she is far from a music newbie, having been a prolific film and TV composer as well as playing keyboards in a band (Starling). So how does a self styled 'music monkey' came up with such a distinctive sound as heard on this EP? I recently interviewed Forero and asked how the idea came about and the turning point came when she entered a Beth Orton competition aimed at female composers. She was accepted and only then discovered that the competition was for female singer songwriters and that, horror of horrors for an out and out composer, that performing her own songs in front of others was part of the package. Luckily, Forero quickly found that singing her own songs was right for her and as the saying goes, never looked back. That was just last year and Forero has been using the time since then to make this EP, using the hundreds of songs she had written at the end of each film / TV project and adding the Colombian sound. Describing the process of creating her own sound after years of creating music to very tight briefs for other people, Forero says "doing imitations of different genres - brilliant training ground though it was - created a need for me to find my own personal musical voice. The whole process has been so beneficial, I feel that I found out who I really am." Hearing that from a lot of people might sound cheesy but I was struck by Forero's sincerity; she's clearly having the time of her life making her own music and it's obviously not an option not to carry on. Forero's response to whether or not there will be an album was "if I don't, I feel I might die!"
All the songs were written before the idea of an EP was even thought of, with the exception of the fifth and final track, Anhela and they all sound as if the singer is breaking free of constraint, in this case, from the constraints of writing music for others. The strongest song for me is Same Boat in which Forero explores the idea of things happening at the right time and how sometimes, things almost happen but don't and maybe that's a good thing.
For me, the sign of a good song is when you find yourself singing along (or attempting to!) the first time you hear it and this was the song that did just that for me on the EP. The strong Latin sound was created using authentic instruments played by Forero herself and a couple of musicians from Leeds which forms the perfect backdrop to Forero's heritage, seeing as she is a Yorkshire lass and her mother originally hails from Colombia (that's a whole other story and can be found on vanessaforero.com).
The longer the interview went on, I increasingly felt inspired by Forero's attitude to her music. She is a long standing musician and composer but at the same time is also at the very beginnings of a brand new direction in her career. Having spent so much time writing music with a very defnite and defined purpose in mind, writing almost "without a purpose" made her look at everything in a new light: She says "we put ourselves in boxes but as humans we can do anything we want. Break your own box down and shock people." See what I mean? Inspiring.
From the Uproar by Vanessa Forero was released on 28 March on Magpie Records.
This first appeared on www.thoughtsofjustafan.com.