Five Questions With Laura Fernandez

Toronto, ON-based singer-songwriter, pianist, producer, artist, and JazzFM radio producer/host, Laura Fernandez has released her new single, “Breathe Life” from her upcoming album, Okay, Alright which is set for release on October 2, 2020.

An intense, emotional ode to love, its recurrent line ‘you breathe life into me’ is fervent, and almost prayer-like; Alexander Brown shines with a beautiful, muted trumpet and the overall sense of the song is hushed and jazzy in a minor key.

“This album was a labour of love in more ways than one,” Fernandez shares. “I wrote these songs over my 20-year career as a songwriter and performer, but hadn’t released them yet; these were songs I wanted to keep safe, and to have a home in a collection.”

Several of the songs, she reveals, were written in some of her earliest days and have stayed close to her heart ever since, “like a living memory.”

Check out “Breathe Life” below and find out more about Laura via our Five Questions With segment.

Care to introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Laura Fernandez, and I am a Spanish-Canadian singer-songwriter, pianist, visual artist, and radio broadcaster. I am a music lover, art lover, people lover, animal lover and lover of life! I was born in Madrid, Spain, and moved to Canada as a child; I was lucky enough to have parents who wanted to preserve the Spanish culture inside the family home and encouraged us to integrate and become true Canadians. As a result, I am completely fluent in both languages and am very proud of my two countries!

I grew up in a home where art and culture was a central part of our upbringing. My dad was an artist, an architect, a writer, and a philosopher. He encouraged us to question life, be self-sufficient, take risks, and believe in ourselves. My mother taught Spanish and taught us common sense! My parents came to Canada without knowing the language, with minimal finances and four children, which led me to have courage and faith; to believe that anything was possible. So I followed my heart and became an artist. I felt I could do anything and never questioned it, so I went for all of it!

Tell us a bit about your music and writing style.

I write from a place of emotion, from real-life experience. As a result, my songs contain much of the feeling that compels me to write them. They help me to understand and process my experiences. The lyrics are the foundation of my songs. I write the words first as poems, the melody grows from that, and the music and chord structures are the underlying element that helps transmit the emotion. I write a lot of lyrics, but not all of them evolve into songs. If I am sitting at the piano with a poem I feel wants to be sung, the music comes very quickly, very directly. Melody and contour are everything to me. I don’t have a formula; I have different kinds of songs; some are more structured than others. The musical ideas take me on an adventure and a journey, and I go with it. It is more like an impulse or a stream of consciousness style of writing. I don’t really craft the songs. I don’t mess with the way they come out. Occasionally I change a word or insert a line to complete a musical phrase, but generally, they come out reasonably whole. Since I have been producing my radio show, a Latin Jazz and world music show, I have become much more aware of rhythms and beats; I find my more recent songs have definite rhythmic influences. The song’s heartbeat is more prominent in my writing and has shaped the words and how I approach many of my songs.

I am performing for the “LIVEstream.LOVE.WORLD.Series” for the TD Niagara Jazz Festival on October 4th at 2 pm and for Remember the Music fundraiser to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s and dementia at 5 pm that same day. I am also performing at the Jazz Bistro with Colin Hunter on October 14th, and on November 18th is my official album release at the Jazz Bistro. The original musicians on the album, George Koller on bass, Marito Marques on drums, and Alexander Brown on trumpet, will join me!

For someone who has yet to see you live, how would you explain your live performance?

I love to engage with the audience. I like to talk about what inspired the songs, especially the Spanish ones, because not everyone in the audience here in Canada can understand the lyrics. I sing songs in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and sometimes even French. I spent the first part of my life in Switzerland, so I speak quite a bit of French, although I don’t practice it enough, so I am rusty! I get into the emotion of the songs and take my audience on a journey! I love to dance if the music moves me and I’m not on the piano!

If you were asked to suggest only one of your songs for someone to hear, which would it be?

It is difficult for me to choose one song that I would have someone hear because they are quite varied and express different parts of me, but if you mean from this new album, as hard as it is for me to choose, perhaps Starry Night. There is a lot of me in that song; the wonder of nature and memory, my love of painting, the magical quality of a particular moment that moves me to write, love itself.

Canadian Beats is all about Canadian music, so who are your current favourite Canadian bands/ artists?

I have so many favourite Canadian artists and bands! I love many different styles of music and am very open! Because I host a Latin Jazz radio show, Cafe Latino, on JazzFM91 Toronto, I have many Latin Canadian artists I love. Hilario Duran is an inspiration to me as a composer and pianist, and he is so humble! I love Junior Santos’ new album con Pambiche; it’s fabulous and has an incredible roster of stellar musicians in the band. Jesse Reyez is very soulful. Lido Pimienta is phenomenal; I love her fusion of modern elements with tradition and the messages behind her songs. I love Drake and the Weekend; Sarah Harmer is a beautiful songwriter. There are so many to mention; Canada is blessed with incredible talent everywhere you turn. Our rich cultural heritage and openness to accepting each other’s differences make for an inspiring array of artists of every kind! The more, the better!

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