Throughout the site’s almost ten year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of ink covering the Buenos Aires-born and based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, actress and JOVM mainstay Juana Molina. Her father was renowned tango vocalist Horacio Molina and her mother was beloved actress Chunchuna Villafane, and as a child, Molina grew up in a intensely musical home: when she was five, her father taught her guitar and her mother introduced a young Molina to the family’s extensive record collection.
After the military coup of 1976, Molina’s family fled Argentina and lived in exile in Paris for several years — and during her time in France, Molina’s musical tastes were vastly expanded by regularly listening to a number of French radio stations known for programs that spun music from all over the globe. When she was in her early 20s, her family returned to Argentina. Naturally, as a young woman, Molina was determined to be independent and pursue a musical career — and like many young people, her initial aspirations were to earn some decent money for a few hours of work a day while having enough time to write songs, record them and play live shows. The Buenos Aires-based JOVM mainstay had a talent for imitations and impressions and while looking for a gig, she auditioned for a local TV program. Based on the strength of her impressions and imitations, she got hired on the spot.
Molina quickly became one of her country’s most popular comedic actors, and within a few years of that initial auction, she had starred in her own show, Juana y sus hermanas, a Carol Burnett-like variety show, in which she created a number of beloved characters. Her show, which was syndicated across Argentina and its neighboring countries was wildly popular. While pregnant, the Buenos Aires-based JOVM mainstay’s show was on hiatus and with a lot of free time of her hands, she found herself reflecting on her rise to stardom. Despite the massive success she attained, Molina couldn’t help but think that she wasn’t doing what she really wanted to do. So Molina quit acting to focus on her lifelong passion — music.
Her decision to quit her popular show was one that many Argentines bitterly held against for a number of years. Her full-length debut, 1996’s Rara was critically panned by journalists, who resented her career change. Fans of her TV show would show up to her live shows, expecting to see her pay homage to her TV work but instead they found they couldn’t understand this new “folk singer character” that sung strange songs without any obvious jokes. Feeling dejected by the criticism and feeling misunderstood but wanting to continue onward with music, the Buenos Aires-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and actress relocated Los Angeles, where her work as much better received. And while in Los Angeles, she began experimenting and familiarizing herself with electronics.
After spending time licking her metaphorical wounds and honing her songwriting and sound, Molina returned to Buenos Aries, where she wrote, recorded and produced her sophomore effort Segundo, which started a critically applauded run of material in which she meshed organic, rock-based arrangements with electronic production — typically layered and sampled loops of acoustic sounds with beats and synths. Her breakthrough, third album, Tres Cosas was championed by David Byrne, Will Oldham, and others and landed on The New York Times‘ Top Ten Records list.
Halo, Molins’s seventh album further established the Buenos Aires-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist. producer and actor’s long-held reputation for being restlessly experimental — and arguably one of South America’s most innovative artists. Interestingly, last year’s Forfun EP is an exuberant and decided sonic left turn, inspired by when they were forced to play a set of material at a major festival without some of their gear, because their airline lost their luggage. And as a result, the material is imbued with a punk rock and garage rock-like DIY ethos and spirit.
Recently, Molina released a new rendition of Halo album track “Cara de Espejo,” which was recorded and filmed at Molina’s home studio near Buenos Aires. Similarly to the material on the Forfun EP, the new rendition of “Cara de Espejo” features a decidedly post-punk arrangement and air, centered around later of squiggly synths, shimmering synths and a driving motorik groove. Filmed by New York-based multidisciplinary arts platform Kabinett, the live session is intimate, playful and mysterious, as it features the band playing in murky shadows.