Ëda Diaz: a Colombian “French touch”

Entrevue réalisée par Michel Labrecque

renseignements supplémentaires

French-Colombian artist Ëda Diaz dazzled us with her debut album, Suave Bruta, described as an “intoxicating elixir” by Radio-France. From Paris, she spoke to us about her multiple musical identities and the journey that led to the creation of Suave Bruta.

“It’s an album that reflects my multi-polar identity, which I wanted to explore musically, a blend of tradition and contemporary music,” says Ëda Diaz, with a luminous gaze. Ëda grew up in France, the daughter of a Breton mother and a Colombian father.

Music has always been part of her life: “My father was a great music lover, listening to France-Musique in the morning, then Ella Fitzgerald or Joe Arroyo (a well-known Colombian singer) in the evening.”

From the age of eight, she studied classical piano for over a decade. At the same time, she regularly visited her father’s family in Medellín, immersing herself in Colombian culture.

“My first real musical emotions came from spending afternoons singing with my grandmother and cousins, over hot chocolate or aguardiente”, says Ëda Diaz. It was Latin America, rather than the conservatory, that inspired her to become a musician.

She has also developed a passion for Latin American and Spanish literature. Musically, the double bass became her main instrument, and she discovered how electronic effects could transform its sound. In 2017, she produced her first EP, entitled Ëda. “That’s when I started exploring this mix of traditional rhythms with modernity.”

Suave Bruta was a long time coming, with production slowed by the pandemic. But it was worth the wait, as this record marvellously synthesizes electronics, natural sounds, and Colombia’s multiple musical styles: valletano, bullerengue, danzón, currulao or bolero.

“Cumbia was the Colombian genre that was all the rage in France, but I had so many others in mind that I wanted to share,” says Ëda. “Among others, all the extraordinary black music of the Pacific coast was neglected because of structural racism. The mixtures between native, white and black are very special.”

Ëda Diaz adds two styles that don’t originally come from Colombia, but which occupy a very important place there: Cuban bolero and Argentine tango. Did you know that Medellín is the second tango city in the world, behind Buenos Aires?

“Suave Bruta is a dialogue between different kinds of music, but also between myself and my producer Anthony Winzenrieth,” says Ëda. “We’re as influenced by Latin music as we are by Bjork, Jeff Buckley, James Blake, Miles Davis.” Anthony Winzenrieth is a jazz guitarist, keyboardist and member of the alternative band 3somesisters.

“That’s how we came up with our version of what you might call a Colombian French touch,” says Ëda with a smile.

Suave Bruta was released at a time when Latin and Spanish music was in full swing. “The international success of Rosalia opens a lot of doors for alternative music in Spanish,” says Ëda. “In Colombia, there’s Bomba Ésteréo, Las Anès, Lido Pimenta (who lives in Toronto), The Méridian Brothers.”

Ëda Diaz also notes that attitudes in France are changing: “In the past, Spanish-language music had to be traditional, so people were closed to more modern styles; now I see more openness towards pop and contemporary styles.”

Suave Bruta has received rave reviews from many French media, as well as from the UK and Canada.

Ëda Diaz hopes to come to our latitudes as soon as possible to present her music in concert. And so do we. I’d love to hear this innovative music live on stage.

Photo credit: Misael Belt

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