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duendita Is Making Music That Expresses Her Own Inner Dualities

Growing up in Queens, New York, duendita voices the duality of self-exploration and awareness through her music. With a gentle melody and soft acoustic piano chords, she emphasizes the importance of feeling joy and vulnerability.

I hope to bring joy and I hope to bring love. Sometimes [my music is] a bit emo, and more melancholy, which is also okay. I would like to encourage people to be vulnerable because it’s the hardest feeling to feel.”

duendita’s distinct sound creates a passionate ambience, capturing the strength of her family as she underlines the ties between creativity and survival. Most recently, she finds relief in being able to personally execute her emotions on her new EP Direct Line to my Creator, out next month. Read our full chat with the budding musician in our interview below, and check out the photos from our bird-watching jaunt to Central Park in the slideshow above. 

So for those who are unfamiliar with the term duendita, can you give us a translation?

The name comes from a literary art term concept called “duende.” It was coined by a poet named Federico García Lorca. He describes “duende” as a spirit that provokes every artist to express themselves. It was really a high school nickname after my friends and I read his essay and I just stuck with it.

How do you describe your musical style? How does it reflect you individually?

It’s a very fluid, borderless, genre-less mesh of ideas that are rooted in my study of classical music and jazz. It’s a blend of a few of my favorite things and also just a reflection of my experiences growing up and in that way, it is kind of folkish. It is what a girl from Queens would sound like.

Where did you study music?

I began singing in choirs at a very young age. I studied a lot of Bach and Bromps. When I got into middle school and high school, I continued to work with ensembles and continued to write my own songs as well as play piano, sing, accompany myself by exploring my own voice.

Music is the universal language that evokes so many different feelings. What feelings do you want your audience to induce while listening to your music?

I really just try to express myself and what I feel in the moment and hope that it resonates with the people in whatever way they will allow it to and in whatever way they let it enter into their bodies and their mental filters. I hope to bring joy and I hope to bring love. Sometimes it’s a bit emo, and more melancholy which is also okay. I would like to encourage people to be vulnerable because it’s the hardest feeling to feel. Just encouraging the openness of expression and vulnerability is something I really care about.

Who inspires you musically?

Beyonce of course. I listen to a lot of Leikeli47, Nai Palm from Haitus Kaiyote, April and Vista from the DMV. It’s so important to find your heroes no matter what the age is.

Has there been anyone in your family whose been in the music industry?

No- My parents are artists in the fact that they are survivors. I really do think their is a big link between surviving and creativity. My parents are artists but they didn’t necessarily produce their art in any mass way. The way they survived and the way my family has survived for many generations does make me feel that there are artistic qualities in my family. I am the first in my family to do it for real and I hope it does provide financial security in a way that- like Beyonce says “a lot of black babies on your Forbes list.” It’s super inspiring. I would say that my parents are artists and I do it for all of us.

Tell me about your new song Magdelena– what influenced you to write this song?

So this song is about my aunt who passed away maybe two years ago. I wrote this song and at first I didn’t want anyone to hear it. It was to comfort myself. One night at the piano in the studio, I wrote it kind of blindly. A lot of my music happens in the studio with the self conscious and a conversation with the self conscious. I’ll be practicing something and I’ll think of a word and chase it. After chasing it and sculpting it, it became something very beautiful when we decided to release the first part and create a second section. We added percussion, we added more harmonies and through the production, it developed into this really beautiful track that I am happy to have on my upcoming EP and also just to emphasize that idea of vulnerability and I am super proud of it.

Can you please tell me a little about your new E.P releasing?

The project is called “Direct Line to my Creator.” It is suppose to come out in November. I am super excited about it because it is a collection of music I’ve made in the past three years. It crafted into this beautiful 30 minute conceptual piece. It takes you through my neighborhood and different ideas of dating, and my feelings about God and absence from God and how that lead me to a certain self awareness. I think about my lineage a lot and the sacrifices that has taken place in order for me to even sit down with you. There is a lot for field recordings and love put into this production to develop into a piece you can listen to over and over again. It makes me excited to put it out although it’s a lot of my old work. At times it’s scary to put out old work–perfection. It’s hard to deal with the gap of growth and constantly growing the more I feed myself. It’s this weird gap between who I was and who I am, but now I see that there’s power in that. I am excited to share that.

What other hobbies do you enjoy doing on your free time?

I lived in Berlin most of this year and I started bird watching out there. I was experiencing a certain awareness around me. I was looking at the creation around me and how important that access is. For me, bird watching is a gateway into my own presence. It is to remind myself to be aware and be still and be present to the world around me. Birds remind me that song is attached to identity and that inspires me a lot. I often feel like I have one message inside of me that I want to stutter out and every piece of music I write I believe that I get closer and closer and in a lot of ways, I hear a bird, and I hear its call, and I know that bird because of its call. That reminds me a little bit of the journey I am on in this Earth at a very fundamental level. Now, to go on tour around the world is my biggest dream because I get to bird watch the world. I have a joke that music is secretly supporting my bird watching career. It’s true. It’s important to explore the world and stay aware.

Stay tuned to Milk for more NYC locals.

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