Almost two decades ago Gaby Moreno packed her things and moved from Guatemala to California. That September she was introduced to a whole new world, but as we talked about it – she still had roots back home where she fell in love with Lake Atitlan and first found her folk/soul sound.
Kendra: What was the first sort of culture shock you felt when you settled down?
Gaby Moreno: The freeway. I know that doesn’t seem like a big shock to many people who live here in the states, but for me it was something so new and foreign. In Guatemala we do not have big freeways like they do here. It was scary and I still remember the first time I had to drive in one.
Kendra: Is there any traditions or customs you still partake in even though you’re away from there?
Gaby: I still celebrate Guatemala’s Independence Day on Sep. 15th. Even if I’m here in LA, I’ll send a message to everyone in Guatemala and try to partake in any activities happening here. I also have to eat tamales (or “chuchitos” as we call them in Guatemala) and drink “Rosa de Jamaica” (hibiscus tea) for Christmas.
Kendra: Where do you think has influenced your music more, Guatemala or California?
Gaby: Both have been incredibly influential in my music. My experience as a Guatemalan immigrant has led to me to write songs like “Ave que Emigra” and “Fronteras”. I also wrote a song about a Guatemalan folk legend tale, called “El Sombrerón”. Living in California has exposed to so many different genres of music and musicians that have shaped me into the artist I am today.
Kendra: Where will you be musically in the coming months?
Gaby: Next year will be very busy for me. Aside from doing shows in the US, Latin America and Europe supporting my new album Ilusión, I will also be part of an incredible world tour celebrating the life and music of David Bowie in January, 2017. We will be playing shows in Berlin, London, New York, Los Angeles, Sydney and Tokyo.
Musically I’ll be a troubadour going to England, Scotland, Tokyo, Australia, New York, Latin America, and the US Midwest all by the time March rolls around. I’m sure all these landscapes will provide a backdrop of inspiration as I write new material and just get an overall different perspective on the world and my contribution to it.