|The number of Buika’s fans in Turkey has been growing every day since her first ever concert appearance in İstanbul in 2009, and her albums are now among the bestsellers.|
Buika is surely a rising star, not only in Turkey but all around the world. Her 2009 album “El Último Trago” brought her a Latin Grammy in 2010, and the Afro-Spanish singer is already a brand name with her flamenco and jazz-flavored tunes as well as her international collaborations with superstars such as Seal and Nelly Furtado.
Next week the songstress will again be in town for a live performance of songs from “El Último Trago,” an homage to Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, at the Cemal Reşit Rey (CRR) Concert Hall in Harbiye. Ahead of her eagerly anticipated Feb. 4 appearance, Buika speaks to Today’s Zaman about her music and her future plans:
You were a Tina Turner impersonator in Las Vegas a decade ago, but now you are an international star. Did you expect this amount of success back then?
No, I never cared about having international fame or anything. I had great times in Las Vegas and I was very happy. I have been singing since I was 16 and I feel like whatever I have right now is a miracle; but I never dreamt about it. I have always believed in singing and I remember forgetting about the world when I was on stage. You have to accept whatever you live and I have always been happy with the things life brought me.
What about returning to the US last October for your first extended tour in North America? Can we say your dreams came true?
My dreams are really far beyond that, but if you believe in what you do, sooner or later your dreams come true. My dream is the sound; my dream is not about album sales or Grammy Awards. I dream about beautiful songs belonging to me.
You never like to categorize your music, but after collaborating with pop stars such as Nelly Furtado and Seal, do you envisage yourself as a pop star in the future?
Sometimes I watch the videos or stage shows of pop stars and I realize all the work they perform is really difficult. I can’t imagine myself jumping on a stage and singing, or doing acrobatic movements when dancing on a stage on fire. Think about Michael Jackson dancing or Madonna’s shows. All the dancers, lights, fire and amazing energy are unbelievable. But sometimes you can see the same energy and fire behind a single piano with a beautiful song without all those visuals. You can feel the same amazing energy with a song with feelings of loneliness or love.
Once you also worked with famous DJ David Vendetta. Do you feel any closer to electronic music?
Actually, I can easily say that I indeed love electronic music. Moreover, I have been working on some new electronic tunes since last summer and they are almost done. But for now it’s still a secret between my manager Mariana and me. I am going to come up with new dance tunes as a surprise.
After the enormous success of “El Último Trago,” have you had a chance to talk to Chavela Vargas, to whom you dedicated the album?
When I first met Chavela Vargas I was very excited and when she asked me to sing, I was shaking. And she immediately felt that. But later we became friends. We have been calling each other at least once a week since we met. She was so happy when I received the awards. I am going to visit Mexico this March and I am going to give my Latin Grammy to her. I received those awards singing her songs, and I feel like they actually belong to her, not me.
You grew up listening to your mother singing Guinean folk songs. What about your son, what do you sing to him and does he love your songs?
I have been taking him together with me to my live performances since he was a little baby. He grew up listening to my songs backstage while I was onstage. Joel is 11 years old now and he already plays the guitar. When he started learning to play guitar we were practicing together and we had a lot of fun together. He is better than me at understanding today’s technology and he even helps me a lot in the studio.
You mention Billie Holiday, Bonnie Raitt and Nina Simone as singers who influenced your style. What about today’s music scene, who are the most powerful female singers of the pop scene?
The names you mention still influence me a lot. My ear is in my heart and every singer who sings from the heart influences me for sure. Honestly, I am always impressed by young singers’ performances before thousands of people. When a 25-year-old singer performs before thousands of people, it feels so magical and any singer who can make us experience this is obviously very powerful, even more powerful than any politician.
How do you feel about the Turkish audience?
It makes me so excited and I really feel very happy when I hear news about Turkey from [the artist management company] Pasion Turca. On the other hand, the idea of giving your heart to someone else scares me whether he or she is a singer or a loved one. We need our hearts. If we can love ourselves, we can feel happier. When I sing for the audience in Turkey, I want them to listen to themselves and their feelings, not me.
Spanish producer-songwriter Javier Limon says what you do is “drink from many sources.” What about love as an inspiration?
Love is the inspiration. It doesn’t need decoration or presentation. Love is a unique inspiration in this world and inspiration is in you. But saving all the energy for yourself is the only way of success. You are the one to trust in. You have to recognize your instruments and you have to follow your own ideas. Creation comes when you love what you see in the mirror, and when you enjoy your loneliness.
Any upcoming movie projects?
I am not a good actress at all, but my brother Robacho has already come up with a story using one of my poems and directed a movie. He is 31 years old and he is really a talented director. There are four actors in the movie and it’s pretty interesting. “From Loneliness to Hell” is the title of the movie and my poem somehow inspired the movie.
You will be performing in İstanbul one more time on Feb. 4. How do you feel about İstanbul?
İstanbul feels like the miracle of time. I know it progressed a lot in the past 10 years as a city, but you can still feel tradition in the streets. Progression kills tradition in almost every big city in the world, but you experience both the past and the present at the same time [in İstanbul]. Its connection with the past feels very magical.