Dom La Nena

Dom La Nena, composer, cellist & singer

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

My relationship with music started very early and it quickly became something that was therapeutic and vital for me. I was born in Brazil and relocated to France with my parents when I was 8 years old. The transition between the two countries was quite difficult for me. The first year in France was very challenging – there was a big gap in lifestyle, culture, language.  Today, with hindsight, I realize that I managed to overcome this complicated process and to adapt to France, only from the moment I became “relentless” in working with my cello, focusing all my energy on the instrument and the music. I was 9 years old and I couldn’t think of anything else, I was completely obsessive. I really think that the passion for the instrument and the musical practice has always been a kind of therapy for me. It focuses me, soothes me, makes me happy. Obviously, there was a huge and immediate attraction to the sound of the cello, as well as its repertoire. I had the impression that finally, through this music and this instrument, I was able to express my deepest feelings (even as a young child) and this relationship to music and the cello remains the same until today.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

I think the greatest challenge as an instrumentalist and composer is that of succeeding in renewing oneself, in surprising oneself, in surpassing oneself and in taking paths that are not always the most convenient or comfortable. The creative process is almost like human relationships: if everything is too flat, repetitive or monotonous you end up getting bored.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of? 

Each album has a different story, a different creative process. My music has something very intimate and ultimately completely personal. Each album represents a little piece of me, like a photograph of a moment, a period of my life, a feeling… I have different attachments for every record and I can’t say which one I’m most proud of.

What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?

A very inspiring thing is to go and see other artists in concert. Personally, it is always a great source of inspiration because, beyond the musical emotion, it allows you to see how everyone manages the relationship to the stage and the public, it allows me to be in the place of the spectator and to judge what moves me or doesn’t during a concert performance. Whether it is music, dance or theatre, it is very enriching.

But I think there are two different things: first, designing a show, which requires a lot of thought and preparation. It is a process that can take a long time to find the right mood, the right songs, what you want to tell throughout the concert, the lights, the scenography. Additionally, there is the fact of playing a show, of being on stage. Personally I find that this moment must be less mental and I need to succeed in letting go, letting the music do its thing without thinking too much.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

As I mix a lot of genres (world music, classical, folk), I often play in places that are very different. This ranges from a classical music auditorium, to rock clubs, through to churches or outdoor concerts. Sometimes, the room itself is not extraordinary but the public is very receptive and warm and it makes for unforgettable concerts… it’s hard to predict! It’s very pleasant to play in rooms where the acoustics really carry us, but I also love to play in places that are not necessarily designed for concerts, such as museums, gardens, churches…

What is your most memorable concert experience?

I recently did a concert with the ‘Girls Choir’ from the Maîtrise de Radio France, directed by Sofi Jeannin, and I must say that it was perhaps the most beautiful musical experience for me. I had moments of tremendous emotion to see these 35 young girls singing next to me in harmony.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

I consider it a real luxury to be able to choose my projects, to perform concerts or shows playing my own music, in the way I dream, with the partners I choose myself, to collaborate with incredible artists, to make records exactly the way I want.  Beyond any financial consideration or recognition, I already feel very lucky and I consider it a great success!

What advice would you give to young/aspiring musicians?

I would say that it is important to follow your instincts, to listen to yourself and to try as much as possible to be completely fulfilled musically. You have to give yourself fairly clear objectives, know exactly what you want as a musician and try to understand where you have to go to get there.

What is your present state of mind?

I’m very happy because I’ve just released ‘Leon’, my first entirely instrumental album. This is a record that I composed and recorded entirely on the cello, alone in my studio. I can’t wait to hear it and perform it on stage.

Leon is available now on CD, Vinyl and streaming on the Bigwax label.

Dom La Nena is a composer, cellist and singer born in Brazil, where she began her music studies at the age of 5. After studying classical cello in Buenos Aires and Paris, Dom accompanied various artists on tour including Jane Birkin, Jeanne Moreau, Etienne Daho and Piers Faccini.

Dom’s solo albums are acclaimed by international press such as The Wall Street Journal (“A young Brian Wilson”), The New Yorker (“Every song is sacred”), BBC (“Amazing and beautiful”), NPR (“A sound that is gentle and haunting”) and The Guardian (“An enchantment”).

Since 2013 she has performed on the many of the most respected stages in the world (Philharmonie de Paris, Philarmonie du Luxembourg, Montreal Jazz Festival, Vienna Konzerthaus, Barbican Center, Southbank Center, etc.).

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