Desta French: “I feel lucky to be able to represent my roots with my music”

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Desta French is one of the most interesting voices in the London underground, among other things because she is able to surf all genres, from R&B to club music, to offer us her own honeyed and evocative interpretations of Latin.

Her latest single, “Ojos negros”, invites you to lose yourself on a dance floor, while the album she released last year, Saint Lazareworks halfway between tropical rumor and jazz arrangements which in both cases highlight his voice.

Desta French is half-Colombian and half-Italian, currently living in London, but that does not prevent her from reconnecting with her Latin roots, which she exploits with the intention of “Latinizing” the rest:

“Everything I do is an exploration of my connection to the cultures I’ve had around me since I was a kid. Saint Lazare is a fusion that’s more of a perspective on how I experienced London Latin.”

She also defines her work as her own particular interpretation, taking advantage of the fact that Latin is not very represented there in the media, that it remains undocumented and that Desta French is therefore an aesthetic response to this shortcoming:

“San Lazarus was a very innocent experimental thing and I didn’t know if it was something that could connect with people in Latin America. But I had a lot of support from the young people there who are very curious about the vibe of my music. It gave me a lot of support and faith to keep showing my authenticity.”

But this proposal has not always been so straightforward. Research has not always been easy:

“I always sang in school presentations, but I didn’t have the confidence to say I was an artist, also because I didn’t see anyone else. In the media here in the UK, it there was no artist that I could identify with, so it took me a while to find my sound. When I met Jamal Hadaway, the producer with whom we created “Shame”, I decided that music was serious business and that I couldn’t live without creating it.”

With a powerful voice you can overthrow empires and yet it is not enough to record albums, you need a stage and other musicians of the same current around you. We wanted to ask Desta French if after this long search he had found similar trends in the underground and the answer was encouraging:

“I found a community of Latin artists here that I never knew existed before! It’s important to have a scene of people who understand where your experiences are coming from. Getting to know other Latin artists around the world who inspire me makes me feel like I’m in school and there’s so much to learn, I feel lucky to be where I am and to be able to represent my roots with my music.

If all his music transports us to Latin America, we could not leave the interview without returning to the events of recent weeks in Colombia: “It gave me great sadness, I would like to see my people, but I know it’s time for a change, not violence but a speech of unity for a fairer country I did a cover of a song by Violeta Parra called “La Carta” which is available on Bandcamp to raise funds for those affected in Cali and in general throughout Colombia.

The link is here for those who want to donate.

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