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Silvana Estrada elucidates a love found and lost in new album 'Marchita'


Withered - something that's become dry and shriveled and ceased to flourish. The word for that quality in Spanish is marchita. It's what Mexican musician Silvana Estrada felt during the rise and fall of her first love, and it's what she's called her new album out now.


SILVANA ESTRADA: (Singing in Spanish).

MCCAMMON: Silvana Estrada joins us now from Mexico City. Welcome to the program.

ESTRADA: Thank you. Wow. What a perfect introduction (laughter). Thank you.

MCCAMMON: Well, I want you to tell us a bit more about that. I mean, this album is mostly about love. It's about finding it and losing it. How did you try to get at that feeling, that feeling of being withered, as you call it?

ESTRADA: Well, you know, all the songs belong to this moment of my life where I was really trying to understand, for the first time, that love is not only, like, happiness and joy. For me, the idea of "Marchita" - you know, a flower that withers sounds me a lot in speaking about love, you know? Because, you know, a flower, for me, is, like, the most beautiful gift that we have from Earth. If we have flowers in our houses, like, we know that we are going to actually see them withered, right? It's part of the process, and we still enjoy their beauty. And something in that process reminds me a lot of the process of falling in love and then needing to say goodbye.


ESTRADA: (Singing in Spanish).

MCCAMMON: How did you come up with that metaphor?

ESTRADA: Well, I grew up, like, in the countryside, and I feel like a lot of my music is inspired by nature. You know, I grew up in this part of Veracruz which is full of rivers and coffee plantations. And for me, it was, like, the only way (laughter) that I find out to actually talk about my feelings.


ESTRADA: (Singing in Spanish).

MCCAMMON: You grew up in a musical family, right? Your parents have an instrument-making workshop where you recorded a Tiny Desk concert for NPR last year. Did you always know that you also were meant to be a musician?

ESTRADA: Well, I don't know. My family was always singing. They were always playing instruments. I grew up knowing that music is something that is going to be in your life just because it's fun and it's healing and it's community, and, you know - but I never said, like, OK, then I'm going to be a professional. Actually, at some point, I wanted to be, like, a professional volleyball player and...

MCCAMMON: Volleyball?

ESTRADA: Yeah (laughter).

MCCAMMON: Are you good?

ESTRADA: No, not at all.


ESTRADA: And even tried to be, like, a volleyball player, like a professional. I never stopped to sing, for example, or to listen to albums, you know? But, like, the idea of actually make a living through music - it's kind of new to me.

MCCAMMON: Speaking of your parents, I'd like to listen to the song "Casa," or home.



ESTRADA: (Singing in Spanish).

(Speaking Spanish). It says, my house is a spring memory of pale prayers without God. My house is what's left of the summer, of that unbearable flood. And I understand life approaching, the unexpected old age of my heart. My house is a star that fades, that sadly bids farewell to my voice.


ESTRADA: (Singing in Spanish).

I wrote that song while I was finding out that every time that I come back, my house going to be different. It's like, my house and my parents and my brother, they're going to be different - and kind of missing that changes.

MCCAMMON: Tell me a little bit about how you put this song together. Did you record it at your parents' actual house?

ESTRADA: No. The studio where I recorded all of this album is a (speaking Spanish), which is a really beautiful studio, like, in the middle of the forest. And it's a huge, old wooden house, just like mine. And, you know, I was really trying to capture, like, the sounds of my house - you know? - my parents working all day or my mom cooking or my dad gardening.


ESTRADA: (Singing in Spanish).

So Gustavo, my producer, he was in the garden. And we started to actually do a living, right? I started to cook. Then the engineer, he was just upstairs in the rooms, just opening, like, boxes. So we recorded, like, all the sounds of a normal kind of living. And with all those noises, we tried to build a crescendo with them, and that crescendo becomes in this beautiful string arrangement.


ESTRADA: For me, that's my favorite part, that string arrangement at the end of "Casa."


MCCAMMON: I have to ask, have you found love again?

ESTRADA: Yeah (laughter). Yeah, yeah. (Laughter) Thanks for asking. I'm actually really, like - right now, I'm amazingly happy. It's, like - because every time that I speak about "Marchita," everybody's like, oh, I'm so sorry. And I'm always like, no, that was, like, five years ago. Don't worry (laughter).


ESTRADA: (Singing in Spanish).

MCCAMMON: I've been talking with Silvana Estrada. Her new album is "Marchita." Thank you so much for talking with us.

ESTRADA: Thank you. My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me here.


ESTRADA: (Singing in Spanish). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.

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