Lolita De Sola On Making Music Amid Venezuela's Political Crisis

May 5, 2019
Originally published on May 6, 2019 8:09 am

Lolita De Sola has been singing about home. An emerging musician from Caracas, she made the hard decision last year to leave Venezuela and flee north to Mexico City. The move allowed De Sola to release her first album, Cattleya — which she says she couldn't have made at home given Venezuela's current political and economic turmoil.

"When you have a dictatorship or crisis, the first thing that goes away is culture," she says. "Because you need food. You need more, you know, basic stuff first. Then culture."

She says before the economy collapsed, before people on her street were eating out of the trash, Venezuela was a very different place.

"When I was little, honestly, it was magical," she says. "Caracas is a valley — so you have the mountains, and in a half-hour you have the beach. Also you have, like, amazing food, you have perfect weather. I now realize how privileged I was to grow up in a place like Venezuela, because it's beautiful. ... Venezuelans right now don't have the same that I did."

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The young singer-songwriter originally left Venezuela in 2014 to pursue a degree in electronic production and sound design at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Due to the worsening circumstances in her country, moved to Mexico City after graduating.

She says the people of Venezuela are always on her mind. Her song "Loto," she says, represents how "we can still aim to be our best self and try to be optimistic, even though everything outside seems to be total chaos.

"It's really easy to get depressed," De Sola admits. "I feel like there's no Venezuelan that doesn't know depression, doesn't know oppression." But she says she still hopes for the best, even if she fears what may come first.

"If the military intervention happens, I hope that my family and friends are safe," De Sola says. "I just hope that no innocents die in the process."

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AARTI SHAHANI, HOST:

We turn now to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela and the impact it's had on one emerging musician.

LOLITA DE SOLA: Hi, my name is Lolita De Sola. I'm a singer-songwriter and artist from Venezuela.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “AQUI”)

DE SOLA: (Singing in foreign language).

SHAHANI: Last year, Lolita De Sola made a hard decision; she left her home country and fled north to Mexico City. Because of the move, De Sola was able to release her first album, "Cattleya." She felt she had to leave Venezuela. Her work there, her life was becoming impossible.

DE SOLA: When you have a dictatorship or crisis, the first thing that goes away is culture because you need more food, you need more basic stuff, first, then culture.

SHAHANI: Today's Venezuela, on the brink of collapse with President Nicolas Maduro refusing to give up power and the prospect of international intervention, with millions of people leaving the country and others so desperate for food they are eating from the trash, this is not the Venezuela Lolita De Sola remembers and longs for.

DE SOLA: When I was little, honestly, it was magical. Now I realize how privileged I was to grow up in a place like Venezuela because it's beautiful. Caracas is a valley where you have the mountains and, in half hour, you have the beach. Also you have, like, amazing food. You have perfect weather. And honestly, I like a lot - my childhood - in that sense because I realized that Venezuelans right now don't have the same that I did.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOTO")

DE SOLA: (Singing in foreign language).

DE SOLA: This song's called "Loto." This is a song about Venezuela. It is inspired in the Buddhist metaphor of the lotus flower. This flower grows where nothing beautiful should grow. And this beautiful flower still grows in the middle of chaos.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOTO")

DE SOLA: (Singing in foreign language).

DE SOLA: It's really easy to get depressed. I've actually been depressed because of this. I feel like there's no Venezuelan that doesn't known depression, doesn't know oppression, doesn't know just their dark side and dark feelings. Those feelings - honestly, they're horrible, but they also make you stronger.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FIN")

DE SOLA: (Singing in foreign language).

DE SOLA: For my country right now, I hope for the best. I really, really hope and I wish that this could have a solution that didn't include war. But honestly, after all these years, I'm really, really scared, really, really sad. But I think that it's the only way.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FIN")

DE SOLA: (Singing in foreign language).

DE SOLA: If the military intervention happens, I hope that then - no innocents die in the process.

SHAHANI: That was Venezuelan musician Lolita De Sola.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FIN")

DE SOLA: (Singing in foreign language). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.