Natalia Jiménez found fame as the dynamic front woman for the band La Quinta Estación, an adventurous Spanish outfit that fused pop and Mexican sounds to great success. Songs like “Me Muero,” “Algo Más” and “Que Te Quería” emerged as staples on Latin radio in the first part of the 21st century.
The group split in 2010, but Jiménez carried on: The big-voiced singer has released three successful albums, the latest being last year’s Jenni Rivera tribute “Homenaje a La Gran Señora,” which moves the singer even further into Mexican territory. Along the way, Jiménez was named best female vocalist at the Billboard Latin Music Awards and scored a signature song with “Quédate con Ella,” which quickly established itself as a classic kiss-off number.
The stylish Jiménez, 35, called from her home in Miami to plug her first full-fledged solo tour,which hits Phoenix on Dec. 15. She’s funny, vivacious and uninhibited, talking about everything from her musical roots to what she looks like pregnant.
Question: Will we ever see a La Quinta Estación reunion?
Answer: No, I don’t think so. We all started doing our own things. One of the guys became a producer in Spain. The other one is a songwriter. Me, I’m super happy being a solo artist.
Q: What is different about being a solo artist?
A: You’re more independent. You can choose the type of music you want to sing without being coerced into it. You have more creative liberty.
Q: When you say “coerced” it sounds like there are La Quinta Estación songs you didn’t want to sing. Which ones?
A: (Laughing) Maybe a couple here or there — I’ll never tell!
Q: The band was interesting because you were all from Spain but had these heavy Mexican influences.
A: The thing was we moved over to Mexico like a regular Spanish pop band, and then we let the country influence us with their music. It was very easy to add mariachi and ranchera influences to our songs. I have a very strong voice, and it’s very easy to sing that type of music.
Q: Growing up in Spain, did you hear a lot of Mexican music?
A: No, not really. In Spain, Rocío Dúrcal was very famous, and she was really the only female artist to cross over to Mexico doing rancheras, and to be really loved by Mexicans.
Q: You sing her “Amor Eterno” in concert.
A: I’m from Spain and I lived in Mexico, so it’s really natural for me to sing it.
Q: What does the Spanish public think of the Mexican influence in your music?
A: They don’t really know it! The last two albums weren’t released in Spain. It’s always been funny like that. With La Quinta Estación, the first album wasn’t released in Spain. We left, we had success, then we came back. We were in Mexico for four years with nobody knowing us in Spain. We were like the prodigal son.
Q: Your last album is the most Mexican album you’ve done, and it’s cover songs. That was a surprise for someone known for songwriting.
Q: I was pregnant. I couldn’t be flying around to go to L.A. and back to write with the people I usually write with. But it was like, “OK, I need to release something.” I really liked Jenni and her music, and I know she has a huge fan base. It was a tribute to her, and her family has been super supportive and it’s nice to be able to sing her songs in a different way.
Q: You were pregnant: Is that why there are no photos of you on the album?
A: (Laughing) Exactly! Oh, I was a cute pregnant person, but it was just cute, nothing else. You know how some women look hot pregnant? I wasn’t one of them.
Q: Going back a little: Did you know “Quédate con Ella” was a hit? It’s got that great mariachi-pop sound.
A: Yes! You know when a song is good and you know when it’s bad. I wrote that with Claudia Brant. We’re friends and we tell each other everything. We were laughing so hard when we wrote it, we knew it was a hit. I really wanted it to be mariachi on its own, but we had to adapt a bit to the times, make sure it was radio friendly.
Q: What are you doing on this tour?
A: It will be some La Quinta Estación stuff, solo stuff, classic songs like “Malagueña,” “La Cigarra,” “Sombras Nada Más.” This tour is about songs I really love — some are songs I’ve done, some are not.
Q: You must have a broad fan base with that kind of repertoire.
A: I have families, which is really funny. Sometimes you see a little kid and sometimes you see a grandmother singing the Rocío Dúrcal song. I’m lucky, because it’s amazing to see the whole family at a concert.
Q: Who were your influences growing up?
A: Janis Joplin is my favorite singer. I really like the soulful voice. Aretha Franklin, Bessie Smith, people like that. People in Spain don’t listen to those things, but in the ‘90s you would see these cheap cassettes everywhere. I would buy them; I wouldn’t know what I was buying, but because it was music, I would try it.
Q: You were a coach on “La Voz Kids” (a version of “The Voice” for children). What do you think of talent shows?
A: I think it’s harder for the contestants. You have a preconceived notion of what a singer for a talent show looks like and sings like. I also think the contracts they offer you from some of these TV shows are not really artist-oriented. They’re kind of complicated and they don’t let you grow much as an artist. Now, “La Voz Kids” is different because they’re children and you can’t put them into contracts. But when you’re older, it’s a little different.
Q: You came of age in music by singing in the streets and subways of Madrid. Was that hard?
A: I remember going to the subway and it was freezing cold and I’d have to heat up my hands because they were so cold I couldn’t play the guitar. I loved it! I look back with a nostalgia.
Q: It’s made you very comfortable on stage.
A: It’s the years. When I started with La Quinta Estación, the first concert was in Monterrey. We were with these telenovela kids from a show called “Clase 406.” There were 60,000 people there and I almost (expletive) in my pants. I thought, “I don’t want to do this!” But you get better, and now I’m very comfortable.
Q: Have you started working on a new album yet?
A: I’m already working on it. Julio Reyes (Alejandro Sanz, Marc Anthony) will produce. We’re going to start in December.
Q: Will it be original songs?
A: Yes, original songs. (Laughing) I’m not pregnant anymore!
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or 602-444-8849. Twitter.com/randy_cordova.
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15.
Where: The Van Buren, 401 W. Van Buren St., Phoenix.
Details: 866-777-8932, ticketweb.com.
MORE THINGS TO DO:
Concerts of the week for Phoenix
Phoenix concert news: Juanes
Best holiday parties in Phoenix in December
Powered by Mosaic Reports