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Juana Molina

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Born in Argentina, Juana Molina grew up in a musical environment. Her father, revered tango singer and composer Horacio Molina, gave her guitar lessons from the age of five. Her mother, actress Chunchuna Villafañe, is a committed music lover who initiated Juana into the secrets of her extensive record collection.

Following the military coup of 1976 in Argentina, the Molina family fled the country and lived in exile in Paris for six years. During those formative teenage years in the French capital, Juana’s outlook on music was vastly expanded. She regularly listened to a couple of French radio stations that offered programs featuring music from around the globe.

When Juana Molina returned to Argentina, she was determined to become independent and to pursue a career in music. Like so many other twentysomethings, Molina had career aspirations “to earn a good salary for working just a few hours” in order to have free time to develop her musicianship. She knew she had a knack for doing imitations, so she auditioned for a TV program. She got hired on the spot. Her popularity rose meteorically and, three years later, she had her own comedy show, for which she invented and impersonated a series of hilariously stereotyped characters. The show was a great success; it was syndicated to other Latin American countries and, within just a few years, Molina had become the most popular comedienne in Argentina.

Seven years after her TV debut, Molina became pregnant and had to suspend the show for a few months. She found herself reflecting on her rapid rise to stardom and thought: “this really isn’t what I wanted to do.” She took the brave resolution to cancel the show (something that many Argentinians would hold against her for years) and to pick up music again. She started writing and recording songs. She released her first album in 1996, and the reception was more than reserved. Her fans would come to her shows, expecting to giggle and laugh, but could not quite understand this new “folk singer” character of hers (she kept singing, and the punchline never came).

Despite these initial difficulties, Molina held out and stuck to her decision. Her passion and commitment to music prevailed, and worldwide recognition began to grow. After the release of her second and third albums, she quickly became the darling of the international indie-electronic-folk scene, and praise began pouring in from admirers in all corners. Tres Cosas was ranked in the “Top Ten Records of 2004” by the New York Times, and she was championed by the likes of David Byrne and Will Oldham. Although her music featured elements of folk, ambient, and electronica and is highly unique and personal, it was often lazily compared by critics to that of Björk or Beth Orton. But, as the New York Times put it, “Ms Molina doesn’t imitate anyone. She has too much fun just being herself.”

[Her] blend of acoustic guitar and purring synths confirms this Argentine as one of underground pop’s most beautifully odd voices.

Spin

On a slow evolutionary journey of her own devising. . . . Transportative, like a fantastic fable. . . . Like all good storytellers, Molina’s gift is in the delivery.

Pitchfork

Encountering Juana Molina’s music is like getting lost in a dazzling funhouse of swirling sounds, where change is the only constant, as shimmering keyboards collide with shifting beats and spooky, multi-layered voices float in and out of the mix without warning.

Mother Jones

Ever-experimental artist Juana Molina is known for creating distinct and bewitching music that defies genre. Using looping technology to layer propulsive guitar strumming, clanging percussion and her ethereal vocals on top of one another, she creates a whirling, hypnotic and often gorgeous musical tapestries.

—BrooklynVegan

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