02 Jul, 2012 | Antoaneta Roussinova
Interview with Efecto Mandarina’s Verónica Pérez
Verónica, or Vero, Pérez is the singer of the electric- jazz group Efecto Mandarina (which also features Bladimir Morales on bass, Diego Ballón on piano and Eddy Chuquimia on drums). At 24 years old, she’s known for her engaging and charismatic performances, captivating audiences with her deep, emotionally laden voice. Already featured on two Efecto Mandarina albums, she’s planning to release a solo album in the near future.
BX: Who were your first influences/ inspirations?
V.P.: My first influences were pop, because I grew up in a time when pop stars were everywhere, so I’d have to say Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey. But later on, my interest grew in other types of music such as rock – Latin American rock like Soda Stereo, Charly García and at the same time the Doors and King Crimson the Mars Volta, Jeff Buckley, Björk and Frank Zappa. I’ve always liked every kind of music, that’s why I believe I have the ability to sing various different styles. The artists who influenced me the most are Amy Winehouse, Stevie Wonder, Dinah Washington, [Brazilian singer] Marisa Monte and Earth, Wind & Fire.
BX: How did Efecto Mandarina form?
V.P.: Efecto Mandarina started in around 2008; they wanted to create jazz music combined with other ingredients, as they were getting tired of playing to the same standards as everyone else. So they thought that if they added an electronic sound, something interesting could emerge out of it. So they did. At the time, I was singing with a DJ producer called Marcelo Guerrero; we had our own material and played it in a few places. One time, Marcelo was approached by Efecto Mandarina to do a collaboration – that’s when I met them... . Time went by and I kept performing with the band, until we merged and have remained together ever since.
BX: Aside from Bolivia, has Efecto Mandarina performed anywhere else in or outside of Latin America?
V.P.: Not yet, but we have intentions of doing it, probably sometime next year – we’re still in the process of planning. . . . At Festijazz, we met some great international artists, with whom we shared a stage and have kept in touch with since. People have expressed a real interest in our culture and music.
BX: In your opinion, how big is the jazz scene in Bolivia?
V.P.: It’s actually very small. It is considered a kind of elite [group] of musicians who take themselves very seriously and choose not to promote their music – something which we really disagree with. We think jazz music, like any other music, could be commercial and could be heard by many. The problem, however, isn’t only with the jazz scene but the whole music scene in Bolivia. Musicians are too cautious; we have too much insecurity, artists here go by the simple idea of making music for money and competing with others for fame. We have to understand that music is sacred; it is an extremely sensitive and perfect way to express one’s emotional and physical thoughts.
BX: Can you tell us about Efecto Mandarina’s albums?
V.P.: We’ve recorded two live albums, as we believe our music has to be recorded live because of all the improvisation we do while we’re playing it. The songs that we play never sound the same; they do have a structure to follow, but the tune always ends differently. The arrangements are done live and are always the most beautiful moments we capture in our music.
BX: What plans does Efecto Mandarina have for the future?
V.P.: Recording a new album, with more of our own compositions – we’ve already started writing. We’re also going to do some covers of our favourite songs. We plan to hopefully do a tour and travel, but also shoot a video that will transcend [beyond our audience].
BX: What are your future plans as a solo artist?
V.P.: I’m working on my album, which isn’t as jazzy as you might expect, but I think it’ll be more personal and intimate. I hope you all like it and feel connected to the songs at some point. I want it to be an album that doesn’t necessarily use instruments as we widely know them . . . that will show how the world is made out of sound and music.
Look for Verónica Pérez’s solo album in the near future.