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Francisca Valenzuela

Francisca Valenzuela is San Francisco-born Latin pop singer- songwriter, poet, and multi-instrumentalist who grew up in Chile. After publishing two books of poems, her first single, "Dulce," appeared in 2007 and charted. Muérdete la Lengua, her debut album, went gold, and the Chilean press dubbed her "The Princess of Rock." 2011's Buen Soldado went Top Ten, and Valenzuela became the first artist to play Chile's Lollapalooza. 2014's Los Angeles-recorded Tajo Abierto charted at streaming. Following two Top Ten singles -- "Tómame" and "Ya No Se Trata de Ti" -- she released La Fortaleza in January 2020. 2022's progressive pop Vida Tan Bonita went to number five and placed at number 16 on Rolling Stone's Top 100 Latin Albums list. After two years of touring with Cafe Tacuba and Jesse y Joy, she issued Adentro in 2024. Born March 17, 1987, in San Francisco, California, Valenzuela began studying music at a young age, learning both classical piano and acoustic guitar. She also began writing at a young age; most notably, a book of her poems, Defenseless Waters, was published in 2000 by El Andar Books with a prologue by famous Chilean author Isabel Allende. A second volume of poems, Abejorros/Madurar, was distributed in Spain and Latin America in 2001. Around that time, Valenzuela's family emigrated from the U.S. to Santiago, Chile. In 2004, she began performing music in the city's clubs and attended an intensive summer jazz program at the Berklee College School of Music in Boston. Upon returning to Santiago, she sent demos to all the major labels hoping to secure a record deal, but was unsuccessful. She performed English-language songs at bars and clubs in Santiago, but eventually began writing and performing in Spanish. In 2006, she started hosting her music on MySpace; one original, "Peces," was picked up for radio airplay. Meanwhile, she was offered a recording contract with the label Feria Music and collaborated with producers Mauricio Durán and Francisco Durán of Los Bunkers on her full-length debut, Muérdete la Lengua (2007). On the heels of "Peces," the single "Dulce" was given an official release in December 2006; moreover, its promotional video, released in January 2007, was eventually picked for rotation on MTV Latin America. It went all the way to number two on the national singles chart. A series of follow-up singles was released in its wake, including the Top Ten hit "Muérdete la Lengua," the Top 30 hit "Afortunada," and "Muleta." In 2008, amid the continued success of Muérdete la Lengua and its long run of hit singles, a deluxe edition of the album was released with a bonus track remix of "Muleta" by Jorge González of Los Prisioneros and a bonus DVD comprised of promotional videos and live recordings. In 2009, she began pre-production on her full-length follow-up in Berlin and Santiago. She also collaborated with Chilean rapper Latin Bitman. Valenzuela co-wrote and appeared on two songs, "Help Me" and "Someday." In August 2010, she began formal recording sessions. Production was completed in late 2010. In January 2011, Valenzuela issued first single "Quiero Verte Más." Her sophomore album, Buen Soldado was released a couple months later, followed by a Chilean tour and international appearances at South by Southwest and Midem for the Cannes Film Festival. She toured for the next two years with few breaks. In 2013, Valenzuela and a dozen other women singers all contributed to Y Si Fueran Ellas, an album tribute to Alejandro Sanz. She recorded a cover of his "Lola Soledad." Other contributors included Thalia, Ana Torroja, Marta Sanchez, and La India. In November, after writing 25 songs for her third album, Valenzuela traveled to Los Angeles and holed up in an apartment to cut demos for her next album. In early 2014, Valenzuela traveled to Brazil's Manaus, Rio de Janeiro, and the Amazonian Jungle. These journeys inspired her song "Reina Tropical de Brasil" recorded as a single and a music video for the HBO Latin America documentary Encuentros en Brasil. She enlisted four producers in the studio: Vicente Sanfuentes, Jesse Rogg, Dave Sitek and Áureo Baqueiro. Over a period of six months, they helped her evolve from her trademark jazz-folk-influenced sound to one that embraced sophisticated indie, electronic, and progressive pop. She also formed her own Frantastic Records (with the help of her mother and producer/partner Sanfuentes) to issue the recording. Tajo Abierto was released digitally in September 2014. Valenzuela then toured internationally, appearing in Spain, Mexico, Chile, and the U.S. Tajo Abierto charted and was selected by music critics as one of the year's best albums. It effectively summed up the first part of her career, though the constant activity of the prior three years took its toll: Valenzuela got depressed, developed OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), and lost all desire to tour, but she did it anyway. She played select gigs internationally including Chicago's Lollapalooza, the opening ceremony of the International Men's Handball Championship in Doha, and an opera theater in Mexico City. That said, the setback paralyzed her for several years. To keep busy, Valenzuela returned to the U.S. and began writing music for other artists and television. Part of her healing response was founding Ruidosa, a Latin American feminist organization and festival that produces live music, hosts editorial on its social media accounts and website, and initiates legislative initiatives that champion inclusivity for women and non-binary musicians in Latin America. It would be six years before Valenzuela issued La Fortaleza in January 2020. She'd issued a pair of charting singles -- "Tómame" and "Ya No Se Trata de Ti" in 2018, and "Héroe" in July 2019. Valenzuela described the latter as an anthem and exhortation to overcome darkness and find the light. She performed it at the closing ceremony of the 2019 Pan American Games. Released in January 2020, La Fortaleza appeared just two months before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down touring across the globe. Valenzuela co-produced most of the set with Sanfuentes and Fernando Herrera. Three subsequent singles appeared -- "Flotando," "Ven a Buscarlo," and "La Fortaleza" -- the latter listed Roberto Trujillo as co-producer. La Fortaleza's songs, including "No Te Alcanzo" and "Ansiedad," focused on anxiety and suicidal thoughts and became a diary-like album of her mental and emotional trials and her healing. She recognized her own strength through the power of community and encouraged others afflicted by the same travails to do the same. It became a manifesto, an album about facing darkness, the power of feminism and collectivity, and emerging into the light stronger and more resilient than before. She credits the set with bringing her back into the heartbeat of the world. Valenzuela moved to Mexico City during international tour breaks and completely plunged into its vast artistic community. In 2022 she released Vida Tan Bonita, a progressive Latin indie pop album that shifted musical directions -- it reflected the influence of artists such as Kate Bush, Julietta Venegas, Carla Morrison, and others, and embraced electronics alongside organic instrumentation. Its songs offered themes of acceptance of life's difficulties, integrating those experiences, and becoming more courageous as a result. Valenzuela returned with Adentro in August 2023. Offering 11 songs that charted the end of her long romantic relationship, it was co-written and co-produced with Francisco Victoria. A deeply personal set, its themes include love, loss, heartbreak, and revival and has been celebrated as her most personal recording to date. Her second charting single, "Nada Para Ti," featured longtime friend, Mexican songwriter Ximena Sariñana as a collaborator.
© Thom Jurek & Jason Birchmeier /TiVo


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