The beautiful nation of Colombia is known for many things. It carries delicious food, a unique culture, several scenic mountains and beaches, an attractive population, and the people are energetic. But Colombia is also rich in music.
Duina Del Mar, a new music product, is a singing sensation out of Cali; she represents Colombia's riches within this particular industry. Not too long ago, the charismatic and beyond gorgeous singer received a nomination for Colombia's Premios Shock in the category of Best New Pop Solo Artist. The magazine Shock, which aims to award the best local music artists of the year, annually presents these awards.
It is with great pleasure that we release the following Q&A interview session Duina Del Mar exclusively gave Campus Circle.
Campus Circle: At what age did you discover your passion for music?
Duina Del Mar: That happened a long time ago. My father is a songwriter, and my mother is a dancer, so I grew up in a very musical household. I would sing with my father day and night. He devoted his life to write music, so I grew up singing his songs. Every day was like being in a creativity laboratory. I loved to combine different genres from around the world. We traveled for many years, so we were able to combine African music with indigenous music, rock, pop, jazz, bossa nova, etc. As I got older, I turned my attention to studying. I’m from Cali, Colombia, and I studied singing at the conservatory there. Later, I moved to Bogotá and studied there as well. I’ve always liked to play different instruments. My father always told me to learn to sing with a guitar or a piano. It’s all something I have in my blood.
CC: How old were you when you moved to Bogotá?
DM: I was 16.
CC: Back then, did you see your move as a radical change compared to Cali, or was it an easy transition?
DM: When I was 15, I saw a gospel show in New Orleans, which is where I was exposed to elements from jazz and gospel. If I wanted to pursue studies in that genre, the only place in Colombia I could do that was Bogotá. My brother was already living in Bogotá, studying percussion. Bogotá is a very lively city and very fast-paced. It’s very open to all sorts of musical genres, both local and foreign. Cali, on the other hand, is a lot more laid back. It’s a tourist city, very warm, and I love it. However, I knew I had to make the move to Bogotá. Now, I have to move again, to other places that offer me great opportunities.
CC: You sing, but you’ve also studied guitar, piano and percussion. What’s your favorite instrument and why?
DM: Without a doubt, it is singing. But, as an accompanying instrument, I started with the piano. I feel like I’m in love with the piano, but really it’s been the guitar. It became my greatest ally. It’s an instrument you can take with you wherever you go, and it becomes your best friend. It offers a very special versatility.
CC: Can you talk about your experiences while in college in Bogotá? How important were your studies?
DM: They were vital. I feel every musician has to have good academic foundations – it’s indispensable. If you wish to pursue music, you must accept it in its entirety. That means one must have an integral knowledge of all aspects of the career; one must speak the language of the musician, of the great ones. There’s nothing better than being in rehearsal with a band and being able to speak in that language. It’s very important to submerge yourself in all things music. Feeling, intuition and heart are also important, but without a doubt, it’s vital to have that theoretical preparation. I’ve always loved being at the academy and have always been very studious. So, for me, school was a lovely experience. I came from a very emotional approach to music, growing up with my father, so that move was very important because it introduced me to this other world that, to me, was unknown at the time. It was great to discover that tangible approach to music, which ultimately leads to a balance between the two worlds. The university also allowed me to meet all sorts of people with varied musical concentrations. We got to share our musical perspectives and learn from each other. All of this was very enriching.
CC: Your parents have been a great influence in both your personal and musical life, but apart from them, did you have any other musical influences growing up? Any artists in particular?
DM: I’ve always liked to be open to different influences, and I enjoy being surprised by something new. There are many, but growing up, Kat Stevens, Simon and Garfunkel, Cuban music, jazz, blues music like Ray Charles. If I speak of more contemporary pop influences, I would have to say Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars.There are too many to name. Also, I don’t understand how one can just have a few, when there are so many incredible artists from all over.
CC: Speaking of world musical heritage, Colombia has one of the most diverse in history. What does that mean to you?
DM: Yes, Colombia has an impressive musical heritage and, currently, there is an enormous surge in everything from folk music to pop and rock. There are many artists doing various wonderful things.
CC: What can you tell us about your new album coming out later in the year, titled Natural, and about your producer, Julio Copello?
DM: The album was a lovely experience. A lot of different processes went into putting it together. I did all the production from home, and then I went to work with Julio. He’s a great producer and has worked with the likes of Marc Anthony and Alejandro Sanz. I feel that working with him was vital to my process. After working with him in Miami, I returned to Colombia and worked with CasaDiego, who’s also a producer. He just finished working on Paulina Rubio’s new album. He’s a very talented person. From there, I worked on integrating different rhythms to the songs. For me, movement in my music is essential; singing and dancing, for me, are one. Then, I went to Jamaica and finished production with a young lady named Natassja “The Wizzard” Hammond. She’s 24 years old, but she’s tremendously talented. She and I made a great team, and she provided the finishing touches. The album is very pop, but also has an electric feel, with lots of reggae; it’s got a little bit of everything. You can laugh to it, cry to it, dance to it. It’s an album for all occasions.
CC: If you hadn’t dedicated yourself to music, is there anything else you would’ve liked to pursue for a career?
DM: I don’t think I would’ve ended up doing anything else. However, I do like visual arts, anthropology, ecology and cinema – a lot of things, actually. At one point I figured I would end up an athlete, since I spent a long period of my life involved with sports, but things happen for a reason, and my destiny, my profound love, is music and dance – that magical moment when you’re on stage.
CC: What do you do with your free time?
DM: In my free time, I love to delve in all things audio-visual. I see my songs as images, and I’m fortunate enough to be able to learn and develop this element. I spent a lot of time looking for people to film my videos, but I didn’t want to depend on anyone else to capture these feelings, so I decided to learn all aspects of making a music video. All the videos in this current project are either filmed, edited or directed by me, so I spend a great deal of my free time coming up with ideas for videos. I also like to paint, dance and travel.
CC: What does Duina Del Mar like to eat?
DM: I love food; I’ll eat anything. I love to cook and eat. It’s one of my great passions. I love Creole cuisine and other native foods. Also in my city, Cali, we have a dish called sancocho, which I love. I love our (Colombian) empanadas – they’re delicious. I love everything. I just came back from Mexico, drooling over all their delicious foods. Basically, anything that someone cooks for me with love, I’ll eat happily.
CC: What’s your take on social media, and how important is it for you to keep your fans informed about what you do and what’s coming next?
DM: I feel we live in a privileged era, and one must look at everything from a positive perspective. In that light, I think that having that direct contact with fans is fantastic. Before, it was very difficult to reach your fans in such a manner. Before social media, it was more difficult to express yourself to distant audiences and broadcast your message and your thoughts around the world. For me, it is a beautiful thing to be able to share a message of love and happiness that might make a difference in someone’s life. I feel social media has brought a great change to the industry, but there has to be a balance; musicians can’t forget to be musicians. Some artists will talk a great deal on social media, but do nothing to support it.
CC: Have you been to Los Angeles before?
DM: Yes, I was there a few months ago. I performed for the Cinco de Mayo festivities at the Placita Olvera. I love people’s vibe and energy.
CC: What’s your take on the vast diversity found in Los Angeles?
DM: I think it’s a beautiful thing. I love the idea of being able to find people from all corners of the world in one place. I think it’s very special.
CC: Do you have an open mind about coming back to perform here?
DM: For me, the most important thing right now is to live in the moment and letting life surprise me. If that means performing in L.A., so be it. One can’t make too many plans. One has to live in the present, and that’s what I’m doing. My father has a saying, which states that towns harvest when the heart is cultivated, and I’m certain that when one is giving all one’s love, energy and discipline, things happen. It’s all energy.
CC: What’s the most important message that you wish to share through your music? Is there one in particular?
DM: To live life with love, hope and happiness. One has to love and respect everyone. We should try and discover new positive things. If we want to make something beautiful out of life, we shouldn’t wait; we should start now. Many people readily blame others for their failures, when they should realize it’s not other people’s fault. I hope through my music, I’m able to transform my world, and my family’s world, and deliver a message of love and hope to everyone. A message that allows people to sing and dance – like at a concert.
For more information on Duina del Mar, click here.