Just shy of her 27th birthday, Brazilian cellist and songwriter Dom La Nena has learned to live in motion. Born Dominique Pinto in the coastal city of Porto Alegre, she spent her childhood split between her hometown and Paris, studying cello and piano while her father pursued his doctorate. And as music developed from a passion to a career, her studies brought her to the doorstep of acclaimed American cellist Christine Walevska, who had lived in Buenos Aires for many years before returning to New York City. Dom moved to Buenos Aires at the age of 13, and whenever Christine visited they would get together for intensive teaching sessions.It was in Argentina that her older peers dubbed her “La Nena” (“little one”), a nickname that has followed her since.
It is no mystery, then, that the musical voice Dom La Nena grew into is transient and unbounded, taking shelter in the in-between spaces oflife. She has drawn comparisons as disparate as “a young Brian Wilson” (Wall Street Journal), “a bossa Joanna Newsom” (Time Out New York), “Cat Power’s … lost sister” (Pop Dose), and “the shadow of Lhasa like an angel passing by” (Voir- Canada). A common thread in this collection of artists might be a sense of intimacy-Dom, like her musical forebears, invites you into a cloudy and fascinating interior. On her debut album “Ela” (Six Degrees Records, 2013), long, wandering melodies are ornamented by cellos, pianos, and other chamber folk elements that come and go like guests at a party.
“Ela” was hailed as a “sonic masterpiece” (NPR), and Dom found herself on the road, touring rigorously and internationally for eighteen months behind the release. Out of these tours, on nighttime drives, between sound check and show time, came the songs and seedlings of her ambitious new sophomore album, “Soyo”, out March 3, 2015, via Six Degrees Records. Co-produced by Brazilian songwriter/singer/guitarist Marcelo Camelo (formerly of the band Los Hermanos), the new album builds upon the vocabulary of “Ela”. She explains, “For me, the songs on “Soyo” are the older siblings of those on “Ela”. There is continuity, a progression with the new collection of songs that comes from having a better understanding of what I want, as a songwriter, and how to achieve it as a producer.”
A fan of Camelo’s music since her teenage years, Dom long dreamed of collaborating with him. When she mentioned this wish to a mutual friend, he connected them and they started to talk by email about music.”I told Marcelo that I was working on a new album and that I would love to do something together. Marcelo was very enthusiastic about the idea, and coincidentally was going to Lisbon (where he planned to relocate) a few weeks later. We spent a beautiful afternoon talking about music and life, with his wife and my husband, like we were old friends.It became more evident for me that I should work with him on my new album.”
The fruit of their collaborative labor, “Soyo” is anchored by Dom’s unmistakable voice and cello playing, but it also plants a few flags in new sonic territory. The songs were written in Portuguese, Spanish, French and English, and the recording process was one in which Dom worked on the arrangements in isolation. “I like to start new ideas on my own,” Dom says, “and when I’ve done some recording and sketched out how things fit together, it’s even more exciting to have someone join in.” Indeed, when Camelo joined the recording process, he immediately contributed a percussive and rhythmic dynamic reflective of his singer/songwriter background, infusing the shine of Rio de Janeiro and bringing lighter and more upbeat elements to Dom’s melancholic undertones, while dipping equally into indie rock and Latin dance forms. And in the end, every instrument you hear was played by either Camelo or Dom.
Recorded in Paris, Lisbon, and Mexico City, mixed in Sao Paulo and mastered in Miami, the album is international to its core – a story that Dom reflects in her tales of vast distances, longing, and nostalgia: “One of the biggest influences for this album was being on the road: continually experiencing the feeling of biding your time, waiting to depart, waiting for sound-check, waiting for the show, etc., while time continues to pass and you remain far from home and family. So, in addition to musical influences, the underlying anticipation and the mundane things that happen in life tend to find their way into my songs.”
May (3 – 4 – 5 – 6)