[MUSIC: La Celestina, instrumental]
LHASA: Me Llamo Lhasa de Sela...
My name is Lhasa de Sela
Viví muchos años en México...
My father is Mexican. My mother is American. So I grew up speaking English and Spanish
Je m'appelle Lhasa. Je suis arrivée à Montréal en '91...
I moved to Montreal when I was 19, and then I lived in France for four years, and now I’m back in Montreal.
[MUSIC: La Celestina lyrics]
LHASA: the first album came out of years of playing in bars in Montreal, which I did for five years before we did the first album and in the beginning I was singing in English and Spanish. And then as time went on, I started to feel that singing in Spanish in a way allowed me to be very emotional, in a way I couldn't be in English.
[MUSIC: Con Toda Palabra]
LHASA: I had a very powerful, strong connection to the language, but I didn't use it in my everyday life, so in a way it was kind of like a secret language. And then over time I think I just got more and more confident singing in Spanish, and feeling like I had found my voice, my style. And then it was more easy and possible for me to start singing in English and French.
[MUSIC: La Confession, instrumental]
LHASA: When I get a flash for a song the language is totally inseparable from the idea, the inspiration for the song. Each language is a different instrument. It's like a guitarist who can play an electric guitar or a banjo a ukulele. It's like, yeah they're a stringed instrument, kind of similar in the way that they're played, but completely different in what they express.
[MUSIC: La Confession, lyrics]
LHASA: I think all languages are endlessly expressive and- Especially when you're uh, an outsider. I think that, if I was a French person singing in French it would be very different, but because I came to French afterwards, I don’t have the cultural baggage that a lot of French people have with the language. It's a complex thing for people to write French songs. They're either writing in spoken French or in written French, and there's always kind of a confusion about that. Whereas for me, I don't feel like I have anything literary to prove. I think one of the reasons why it took me a long time to sing in English is because I do have that cultural baggage. I did have the fear of doing something that's already been done. Whereas in French I don't even worry about that because I don't know what's already been done!
[MUSIC: Anywhere on this Road]
[MUSIC: Para el fin del mundo o el año nuevo, instrumental]
LHASA: Everything I write is um- autobiographical [laugh]
[MUISC: Para el fin del mundo, lyrics]
LHASA: You'll be here tomorrow for the end of the world or the new year. And basically it's about uh- it's the end of a love story, but it's happening at the end of the- the um, right before the new year of the year 2000, so there's this kind of apocalyptic um, crazy celebration feeling. Is this the beginning of the end or is this just the beginning?
[MUSIC: Para el fin del mundo]
This piece was produced for The World
and was originally aired on May 16, 2005. It also aired April 25, 2006, on Ireland's RTE Radio 1's Round Midnight
Producer: Sarah Elzas
Recorded in Paris, France
Photo: Cover of La Llorona