After winning Best New Artist at the Latin Grammy Awards 10 years ago, Gaby Moreno is going back to her roots. The Guatemalan singer-songwriter revisits songs from early in her career in her acoustic EP X Mí (Vol. 1), released today (May 5). The project also includes a special duet with her good friend Oscar Isaac. In an interview with Remezcla, she breaks down the EP and talks about the next era of her career and how she got to know Oscar.
“This is more like a transition,” Moreno says about X Mí (Vol. 1). Following a decade of being signed to Ricardo Arjona’s Metamorfosis label, once she fulfilled her record contract, she moved to Cosmica Records. Her management was already from Cosmica, so the switch made sense. Throughout her career, Moreno has sung in English and Spanish. With this bilingual perspective, she has blended her worlds of Americana and Latine music.
“[Americana] encompasses so many different styles, [like] folk, rock, blues, jazz, and definitely Latin music because it’s been here for a really long time,” Moreno says. “[Latin] is part of the culture here in the U.S. as well. If I can be one to open doors for even more Latin artists to be part of this world, then that would be so amazing.”
Moreno first teased the X Mí (Vol. 1) EP last month with her “Luna de Xelajú” duet featuring Oscar. She reveals that it was music that first brought them together 10 years ago.
“When we met, it was just like this instant connection because obviously, we share the Guatemalan roots, and we sang together that same night when we met, and it was so magical,” she recalls. “It was so beautiful, and we became friends fast. Over the years, we’ve sung together a bunch, so it just felt very natural to record a song together.”
“[Americana] encompasses so many different styles, [like] folk, rock, blues, jazz, and definitely Latin music because it’s been here for a really long time. [Latin] is part of the culture here in the U.S. as well.”
“Luna de Xelajú” is the only song on the EP that Moreno didn’t write herself. She included the heartfelt collaboration with Isaac in hopes of helping the Guatemalan classic become a standard known around the world. The rest of the six tracks are songs from her first three albums. Moreno originally wrote them by herself and now has produced the acoustic versions.
“There’s a song, for example, in there called ‘Juegos y Miedos’ that I almost never play live during my concerts,” Moreno shares. “It is one of my favorite songs, but it was produced in a way that was really big, and there’s a lot of instruments, and I always felt a bit overwhelmed by it. Now I can just take away all of the instruments and just stay with the acoustic guitar, which is exactly how I wrote the song. There’s something that feels very intimate, familiar, and personal, so that’s what I want people to hear essentially.”
In June, she will be the opening act on a few dates of Nickel Creek’s tour. Moreno is also hard at work on her next album. She is also producing for other artists, like Cuban legend Omara Portuondo’s upcoming album, which she called a “dream” experience. Portuondo’s LP will include duets with Rubén Blades, Susana Baca, and Natalia Lafourcade.
Check out X Mí (Vol. 1) below.