Shelter with Carmen Salvador

ARTS, Interviews, Music
Chilean singer-songwriter Carmen Salvador is one of the highlights of Luminate, a festival of music, art, dance, creativity and sustainability taking place from January 30 to February 6:

Takaka’s Canaan Downs is a lovely venue, isn’t it? Does this landscape inspire you?

It’s really beautiful and inspiring, one of the things I love the most about the festival.

Why did you get into music? Music still has that charm?

When I was a teenager music became my shelter, just a way to feel connected to life, and when I started getting that feeling with music I knew it was what I was meant to do. And yes, it totally has that charm and even more because now I’m the one writing those songs!

Do you describe yourself as a feminist?

No, not at all. I just think it’s not necessary anymore (not for me at least). I think being a feminist meant having to stand up against a patriarchal system, which obviously still exists, but I feel we’re in a different place. Now as humanity we need to integrate both feminine and masculine in each one of us and not label ourselves or separate.

Who are you looking forward to hearing at Luminate?

I saw Adham Shaikh and Mamaku Project a few years ago and they were awesome so I’m really looking forward to seeing them, but also it’s great to discover new music and Luminate is great for that.

What does an audience member get from a Carmen Salvador gig they can’t get from downloading? What do you want them to take away from Luminate?

I think being on stage is such a challenge because you can’t hide anything. At the studio you can fix things musically, and also you are not as exposed as you are when playing live. So on stage you get to see a more raw version, and the real person behind the music. At Luminate I will perform with my guitarist and I’ll be playing a native South American instrument with a bit of an effects pedal and that’s something we prepared just for this tour, it’s not on the albums. When I perform in countries like New Zealand where most people don’t understand most of the lyrics, I talk to the audience a lot and people like that, after a little story about the songs they can connect better. It’s nice because they have to just feel the music. Hopefully we’ll get to connect from the heart.

Who are some current and formative inspirations?

Musically, I listen to all kinds of music. Right now, I’m listening a lot to Angus and Julia Stone from Australia, and other folky stuff. There’s a Chilean songwriter named Nano Stern. The first time I saw him live was in Australia, of all places, and he is just so powerful on stage, just him and his guitar, it just blows you away/ In general I think it is really inspiring when you see someone doing what they love and putting themselves out there totally. Tori Amos was a huge inspiration for me when I was a teenager.

What’s one of your favourite pieces of musical memorabilia, any Tori Amos?

I don’t really have many, I’ve moved around a lot and each time I try having less stuff to carry. When I was a teenager I had a nice Tori Amos collection; I still have some of those rare singles with beautiful designs and back then when having just one unedited song was an effort and a treasure (no instant internet downloads). I had a book of the music sheets from the album Boys for Pele, but it got lost somewhere along the road.

Tell me about another favourite gig?

I like festivals in general. I had a lovely time at the Bay of Islands Arts Festival in Kerikeri in 2010, just because everyone was so nice to me; the festival director was a really inspiring woman. Also in 2012, I had a concert in a beautiful theatre in Uruguay, and that was really nice because I’d been wanting to have more concerts in countries near Chile, and the theatre is a very important venue in the country, and it’s just gorgeous.

Filed under: ARTS, Interviews, Music


Alexander Bisley is an editor-at-large who has contributed in-depth interviews and more to The Lumière Reader since 2004. He’s written extensively on culture (and sport) for all of New Zealand’s leading outlets, and also makes his living freelancing for international publications including The Guardian, Slate, and The AV Club. He’s published by The Independent, BBC, Vice, The Sydney Morning Herald, Playboy, and Slate France, and has been paid once by The New Yorker.