English/Colombian singer/songwriter/producer Vanessa Forero unveiled her new single “Pablo Escobar” on March 1st.
Written by Forero, the song tells the story of Pablo Escobar.
“After living here (in Colombia) for 6 months, I got to hear some real stories from Escobar's damage, and hearing that alongside the tourist Escobar T-shirts, tours and even burgers! I just didn't want to be in the same company of glorifying him. But then I heard the mayor of Medellin talk about how he wanted tourists to know that Escobar is not a fictitious character, but that horrors were done in this country because of him and many victims died, so that's when I decided to release it as a way to send that same message but with art... that this was real, and may history never repeat itself,” explains Forero.
The singer/songwriter unveiled an animated video for the song. Created by UK-based animator/illustrator Malky Currie, the video brings depth and emotion to the record.
By releasing this unique record, the story-teller showcases her great songwriting as well as her ability to display a heavy and important story through music.
“Pablo Escobar” is off her upcoming EP “Fuego” to be released later this year.
Introduce yourself - where are you from?
Hi Thread! I'm Vanessa Forero...Yorkshire born (UK) with all my stuff in Brighton but currently living in a treehouse in Colombia ... for what was meant to be a month. 6 months later, I'm still here!
What's your story?
I began as a media music composer, then with a few rough years felt instrumental music wasn't quite cutting it for fully expressing what I needed to, so I tried singing, which lead to songwriting and gigs and records and a whole new wonderful adventure I'm still on.
At what point did you start feeling connected to music and art in general?
It's never been apart from me. As soon as my Dad could sit me on a piano stool I was using that instrument before my own voice to make sounds and talk. I still think the piano expresses how I'm feeling better than my mouth does.
When did you start writing songs?
I've been composing instrumental music since childhood, inventing scores for imaginary stories in my head etc, but songs only came about 4-years ago when I found I had something to say that only words could aid.
When did you know you could sing?
I still find it weird I'm singing! I'm a pianist/composer in my head still. But I sang into my first mic about 3-4 years ago, which was a sort of accident. I won a residency for female composers in Manchester back then, but it turned out to be more a singer songwriter residency, so I was put on the spot and pushed to sing for the first time. I cried, I was that terrified to use my voice like that in public! But the response was so encouraging, and singing suddenly felt like an important thing to do, so I kept at it!
When did you decide to pursue music as a career?
It was a very natural progression, I just loved composing and one day a young film making team needed a film score, so I did it for fun and experience, and they ended up connecting me to paying clients later on...14 years later I'm so grateful to be a full-time working composer, with singer songwriting on the side...not like that's a way to make money these days much. Most of the earnings goes out to videos and promo etc. I do all the recording, producing and play the instruments myself so at least the music-side costs are down there, but it can be an expensive hobby. Luckily I use my media music job to fund my passion and art.
How did your sound evolve since your first project "From The Uproar"?
It matured. This one is more wild, dark, with a fierce, womanly energy. The first record now sounds like me as a girl who's trying to find her way through sound, which is exactly what it was, and which is probably why it's quite a varied, but I feel this new record is me having found my lane, and one I haven't seen walked anywhere else much, so that makes me feel I'm doing what I'm meant to be doing. My offering!
You've just released your new single "Pablo Escobar". Could you describe us the songwriting/production process for this song?
Cheesy to say but...it all came in a dream! Although it was incomplete, so the next morning I finished it and recorded it in my home on my Gretsch (electric) and some native Colombian instruments, so a very fast process. I felt more like a channel than a songwriter. Releasing it is what's taken the longest.
When did you start working on this song? Who did you work with?
The song came to me 3 years ago, the music side was just me in a room with my music toys, then soon after my friend Malky Currie made the wonderful animation video to match...but then I got scared to release it, knowing now how sensitive a subject Pablo Escobar is to my fellow Colombians ... the man who caused so much pain. So I buried the song.
What made you want to release this particular song as a single?
After living here (in Colombia) for 6 months, I got to hear some real stories from Escobar's damage, and hearing that alongside the tourist Escobar T-shirts, tours and even burgers! I just didn't want to be in the same company of glorifying him. But then I heard the mayor of Medellin talk about how he wanted tourists to know that Escobar is not a fictitious character, but that horrors were done in this country because of him and many victims died, so that's when I decided to release it as a way to send that same message but with art... that this was real, and may history never repeat itself.
What are your personal thoughts on Pablo Escobar?
It's changed a lot. I started like most westerners, who think he's a cool gangster from the TV show Narcos, but since living here, I now connect with the pain of the people here when his name comes up. Personally, I'd never shake the guys hand, ha! But he's now at least a reminder to us that we crumble and fall when man tries to play god.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get a lot from my dreams, and also any sound that sparks in my ears, and just anything that moves the furniture inside! Could be an experience, a poem, a feeling, or like today...a groove in the wind I heard played by street musicians.
"Fuego" is your upcoming EP. What are the different topics you are talking about on this project?
A lot of it came from me realising the power in the feminine. I always thought I had to be masculine and scowl, wear leather and studs to feel some kind of power or strength .. but when I came to Colombia last time and saw these tribal women banging drums and singing with such presence and gut-power! And all whilst wearing beautiful gowns and moving like water, they were just rocking a whole other type of power I'd not seen - the feminine power. It was aggressive in its own unique way, fierce, loving, sensual, mystical, and I wanted it! So I tried to capture it in sound and music, and hope to others it sounds like that wild feminine I experienced here. As for the topics...all very different. It's mainly me talking to myself on matters such as wrestling with "god" (in 'YHWH') to begging myself to be brave and become more 'me' (in 'Make Myself'.)
What made you want to name your EP "Fuego"?
A lot of the lyrics happened to have fire as a metaphor or theme, (Fuego = fire in spanish) but also I aimed for the sound of it to represent the different natures of fire...the aggression, the passion, the sensual side. All that.
How would you describe Colombia and Colombians? What do you like the most about this country?
I would say they're some of the most creative and ballsy people on the planet. People live on very little here but make mountains. If they have no job...they make one for themselves by learning a new skill, whether that's braiding a unique leather bracelet to stand out from the others, or writing on-the-spot poems. And unlike us Europeans, they live from the heart and the gut, so I'm de-toxing my over-thinking head here for sure! Plus, it's beautiful! With all the terrains all in one country...jungle, city, desert, mountains, beaches...etc. But the best bit, as always, is the people.
You wrote a book called "The Girl With No Name". What were the biggest challenges when writing this book? What made you want to be apart of this project?
It began as a mother-daughter coffee shop hobby. I just wanted to preserve mum’s memories and amazing life to pass down the generations, so over 2-years we made a book we never imagined, because mum's memories had always just been snapshots of events, but after all our little interviews, research, and a field trip back to Colombia, all her snapshots hung on a timeline thread and out came the most amazing, coherent, movie-like story that surprised us all! So much so that I felt I had to share with the world. Mum on the other hand wasn't bothered, she's just happy cooking beans for the family and being under a safe roof! She's got it right.
How do you want to be remembered for?
Being a joy-spreader, a dependent friend, an honest girl who's just trying her best, and a curious human who brought something new to the world of her craft... music.
In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?
So much! I'll start with honesty. No games. No agendas. Blunt honesty may be ugly but it's where we can all start from strong. For us all to be real and transparent will release so much heavy energy and invite trust, and hopefully a sense of care for each other. The world is in great need of true, honest, human connection I think.
Oh and world peace.
What biggest lessons have you learnt as a human being and as an artist?
To follow curiosity above fear, to lean into discomfort and listen to what it's showing you and where it's guiding you, and to make decisions first from the gut, then the heart, then a sprinkle from the head!
Connect with Vanessa: