Elsten, thank you so much for spending an evening with me so I can share with TheRevista readers a little bit about you, they already know you from all your accomplishes, Grammy awards but also for a cover page we did with you about 2 years ago. Now you are back with a new album, amazing sound and more energy than ever.
What has changed for you musically since the last time we interviewed you?
First of all I’d like to thank TheRevista Magazine and you Diego for all the support you’ve given me these last few years. I really appreciate the time and attention you have thrown my way and how you’ve made me feel at home at “TheRevista”.
I think the challenge of being any kind of artist is adapting to the changes that come their way on a continuous basis. Life in itself is constantly changing, and I mean that in a very neutral way. Change is neither good nor bad, it just is. As a musician and especially as a songwriter, I’m like a sponge and I’m constantly soaking in all of that life and art throws at me. I like to tap into my surroundings and take all that and see how it effects me musically speaking. I think I’ve definitely matured and I’m in a constant flow of growth emotionally, physically and artistically.
Waiting for Clouds is your new baby! I have to admit that I have not stopped listening to it. How was the process to write these amazing deep songs for it?
Thank you for that Diego, that’s beautiful for you to say! This album means so much to me. I mean really they all do. Every record, song and project is a pregnancy of sorts. It’s born inside of you and you work through it, help develop it, nurture it and then let out into the world. “Waiting For Clouds” is an album that really reflects so many things that happened to me in the last 3 years. It actually began right after my GRAMMY nomination for my album, “Individual”. After that time, I had some moments where I was stuck in an emotional limbo and subsequently my 13-year marriage came to an end in 2010. The reason I bring that up is because that particular circumstance affected everything I did after it. It put me in a major tailspin in every way imaginable but after 2 years I can say I’m back on my feet. There are still scars of course but scars are sometimes good for they remind you how much love you’re capable of giving someone even to the point of letting them go. So the process was digging deep into myself and finding what it was that I needed to let out. Along with my producer and great friend Brendan Buckley, we sat down in his studio in Los Angeles and either wrote or completed the songs that needed to be finished while also including some songs that I had already written on my own.
Please share with us how was your experience working with Sebastian Krys and Brendan Buckley on your album Waiting for Clouds?
I think another reason I love this record so much is because I was able to work with two of my very best friends who also just happen to be both extraordinarily talented! Both Brendan and Seb have been friends since the mid-90’s when my band, “Fulano” was around. Brendan is an amazingly talented drummer and producer, who’s been Shakira’s main rhythm engine since 2000 and Sebastian, is just one of the most sought out and accomplished producers/engineers of his generation. I have the luxury of calling these two my friends and I dare say they’ve also been fans of what I’ve done as a singer/songwriter all these years. So the experience was just beautiful and I am forever grateful to have them on this record and in my life.
I am curious about Pledge Music; tell us how we can help you?
Pledge music is a pre-order fan based site, where your friends and fans get to order and support an artist before a project is done and help you finance it. My campaign ran during the fall of 2012 and we had a successful run, having met our goal in Dec/12. It was great to have so many people step up and show their support and love. Another great thing about the campaign is that 10% of it goes to the artist’s charity of choice. My charity was the Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation. So it really is a win, win deal all around.
Are you in love right now?
I’m in love right now with life! I know that sounds kind of corny but really after all the darkness that I went through a few years back, I feel like I’m loving life again. Took me a while to really see how fortunate I am and have been in my life. Having the gift of music and the ability to write a song is just such an amazing thing. I’m surrounded by so many loving people right now in my life, from my girlfriend, Milcho, who just can’t be any more supportive than she’s been, she’s truly been an angel in my life. My three beautiful nieces that I adore and are growing up to be such exceptional young ladies and then of course my brother and my beloved Mima who’s love is everything to me.
Who is the muse that made you fall in love?
I think I have muses all around me all the time. Love gives love, so I think when you’re a loving person, you receive that back, the Beatles said it best, “And in the end the love you take, is equal to the love you make.” And I tend to live my life like that. Each step and hour and day at a time, and I’m never not surprised by the amount of muses that pop up so often on a given day!
As a composer is it easier to compose when you are heart broken or when you are in love?
I think whenever a writer is going through any extreme emotional pull whether it is love, or a break up or a loss of someone close to them, it definitely opens them up to a creative flow. It just has to, because artists are conductors to feelings and feelings are what we base our work on for the most part. I know that I’ve written some of my best work during extreme moments of happiness and the contrary is true as well. It’s also a form of therapy. I don’t think I would have been able to get out of my emotional dungeon from a few years ago if it hadn’t been that I could process my pain and love through what I do musically.
Has Waiting for Clouds changed you, how?
Yes for sure this album has helped me grow as a person and a songwriter. “Waiting For Clouds” feels like such a cleansing for me. It really is the end of a long cycle in my life and I feel that after all that stuff this is what’s left. It’s helped me grow and it’s helped me see myself with different eyes. I’m so proud of the work that we’ve done on this album. I think Brendan’s production choices are right on target and so beautifully executed. Sebastian’s mixes are just masterful. All the amazing musicians that performed on here, each one of them a world-class musician, I’m so lucky to have had the great players on this record.
I see myself in a new light as an artist because of “Clouds”. I’ve done so much in my career that I’m proud of and to get to this point and have this record, I couldn’t be happier.
Do you feel radio stations are supporting you enough to reach a mass audience?
I couldn’t tell you how supportive they’ve been or will be. I hope so. I mean I’m not too worried about commercial radio because I don’t think “Waiting For Clouds” is the kind of music most commercial stations would play. But that’s cool and actually I kinda like that. I’m a big listener and follower of public radio stations like KCRW and all the great NPR stations that really focus on the music I enjoy as a fan. This is where I want my music to be heard. So I believe that kind of audience would enjoy something like “Clouds” more than the other alternatives.
How do you keep yourself current and original?
I listen a lot. I listen to a great deal of music that is alternative, edgy, well crafted and honest. I love the “All Songs Considered” and “Tiny Desk Concerts” programs on NPR because they really highlight all types of artists and all types of genres. I’ve discovered many great new artists just listening to those programs. I definitely still try to go out and catch new shows to see what’s out there. My friends are always suggesting music that they think I would like or could influence my writing. So yes I try to stay on top of what’s going on more in the alternative world than the pop world.
What are the plans for Waiting for Clouds? Is Waiting for Clouds for sale? Where?
Well it’s the beginning of everything for “Waiting For Clouds”, so the process begins now on getting it out there to the world through interviews, shows and lots of heavy promo work as an indie artist. Being independent has definite challenges but it also has so many possibilities that it’s quite exciting. I’m embarking on a spring tour to promote the album in the U.S. and hopefully some places in Latin America and perhaps even Europe/Asia if the opportunity arises. We’re also shooting the first video with Milcho by the time this interview comes out here in Miami for the song, “Closer Tonight” which is a duet with the super talented singer/songwriter, Gaby Moreno, and after that, we’ll be shooting the video for “Waiting For Clouds” with director, Danny Barrocas.
“Waiting for Clouds” will be available on Itunes, Amazon, Spotify and also directly through my website: http://www.elsten.info .
Again, Thank you “TheRevista Magazine” and you Diego for all your support and attention. I’m really really happy we got to speak about my new project and I can’t wait to see the article. Big hugs and love to you!