By Mike Toombs / Special to The Seattle Times
“I saw Nine Inch Nails two days ago and it totally, totally blew my mind,” Juana Molina said recently by phone from her Buenos Aires home. “It’s something that you can’t believe, that someone’s able to do that. So powerful, so perfect, so musical at the same time. If I had to compare myself to that, maybe I should just work in a bar.”
She added with a laugh, “It’s totally the contrary of encouraging — what’s the word?”
Whatever the word, Molina has had plenty of encouragement of her musical gifts. She made a name for herself with her live shows, blending acoustic guitar and keyboard-based loops to create what has been dubbed “folktronica.” So what does the worldly singer-songwriter, who performs Monday at Seattle’s Triple Door, listen to when she goes out? You might be surprised.
Compared by critics to Björk, Beth Orton, and Lisa Germano. She usually writes, mixes tracks and performs on her own. Her second album, Segundo, was named Best World Music Album 2003 in Entertainment Weekly and gained a Shortlist Award 2004 nomination. Tres Cosas was placed in the Top Ten Records of 2004 by The New York Times.
Her latest release, “WED 21, perhaps the most ambitious of her six albums, was recorded solo in Molina’s home studio, but even so for the first time she’s taking additional musicians on the road with her to re-create its bigger sound.
“For this one,” she said, “the structures are so different, they don’t allow me to be on my own. I would have to have prerecorded stuff and I hate that. It’s so boring.”
Molina’s life has been anything but boring. Raised in Paris by a tango singer-composer father and actress mother who had fled Argentina after the 1976 military coup, Molina listened to world music radio and learned guitar at age 5.
But it wasn’t until she encountered another instrument that her sonic landscape opened up.
“When I discovered in ‘97 the world of keyboards, that was a really small door that opened a really huge world. You would say, “Keyboards? Who doesn’t know about keyboards?” But I didn’t,” Molina explained. “I thought I hated keyboards, because we had just come out of the ‘80s where the sounds were so artificial and rather awful.“
Molina learned “how to get rid of everything you don’t like, how to push what you do like. And the way the keys can behave whether you touch them softly or more heavily. There are many things you can program.
“And that’s the end of the story, because I didn’t learn to program anything else. I really learned to program that keyboard that I have.“
7:30 p.m. Monday, April 21, at The Triple Door, 216 Union Street, Seattle. $20-$25 (206-838-4333 or thetripledoor.net).
Mikel Toombs: firstname.lastname@example.org