INTERVIEW WITH… POP JAZZ NEWCOMER CINDY LATIN
Fusing an effervescent mix of jazz, pop, and R&B singer-songwriter Cindy Latin creates vivid and realistic song scapes. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music in 2019, she released her debut EP “With You” in 2017 during her first semester. Now Cindy not only has a string of releases behind her. Her newest has just been released and it’s titled, “I Am Looking”. The track features a big band type sound within in a small orchestra arranged by Latin herself. Cindy chats with us at The Reclusive Blogger on her new music, influences, and more.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Hi, Cindy! Can you tell me a bit about your background and how you got started in this industry?
CINDY LATIN: I’ve been performing in musicals my entire life. I grew up in Long Island, so I’ve always been close to Manhattan, and I would see Broadway shows all the time. I always knew I wanted to perform and sing, however, writing and producing music were things I explored later on in college. I started school at Boston Conservatory, studying musical theatre performance, but the summer after my sophomore year, I took some music and songwriting courses at NYU Clive Davis, and I discovered that I wanted to do more of that. I transferred to Berklee College of Music where I initially just started with a major in Songwriting. By the end of it, I ended up with a dual major, Songwriting was the first and the second was Contemporary Writing and Production (this major included arranging, production, writing, and engineering). I also did a minor in the Theory of Jazz and Popular song (music theory).
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What do you hope is the listeners’ biggest takeaway from listening to your music?
CINDY LATIN: Since my music combines a few genres, I hope people will be exposed to something musically that they weren’t super familiar with before and that will lead them to check out more music like it.
On a more lyrical side, especially with this pandemic, I want people to know that it’s normal to be suffering right now and to not be feeling like your happiest, most productive and/or more successful self and to be worried and stressed about the future. We’ve all been affected in different ways, but sometimes suffering can feel lonely when a lot of people seem to be doing great. Social media personally can stress me out since everyone only shows their best, so I want people to know that there are others who deal with anxiety and wake up some days feeling stuck.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: You attended The Berklee College of Music. What we’re some of the biggest lessons that you learned there?
CINDY LATIN: I learned that the more skills I have and the less I need to rely upon other people, the more control and independence I have with my own music. This is why I ended up adding that second major, and I am SO glad I did.
I also learned the importance of picking to work with people who are not only talented, but also RELIABLE and who actually enjoy playing my music. I did some projects and gigs during school where I had musicians who didn’t seem like they wanted to be there, and it sometimes messed with my confidence and made me rush through the rehearsals. There were also people who blew off rehearsals, canceled last minute, forgot their charts, etc, and that made it difficult to work with them and get things done, even if they were phenomenally gifted. Eventually, I got way pickier and found wonderful, talented, eager, responsible people whom I enjoyed working with and still work with today.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: After graduating Berklee College of Music you released your debut album ‘With You’. What were the biggest challenges and greatest triumphs you had through the entire album making process?
CINDY LATIN: I actually released the “With You” EP in July of 2017, which was when I started taking classes at Berklee College of Music. I was working on it during my last semester at Boston Conservatory before I transferred to Berklee. I graduated from Berklee College of Music in December 2019.
That was my first time putting out music, so it was all new to me, especially since I came from a musical theatre background. At the time, I was surprised by how many different elements were involved in putting out music. I was grateful to work with my songwriting mentor, Drew Gasparini and my main producer (at that time, I wasn’t yet producing for myself), Dan Sitar. From picking reference tracks to having the songs arranged to rehearsing to how long it takes to set up the studio to waiting for the mixes/providing mix feedback to get it right to getting cover art to picking a distributor to sending out the song to radio, etc., I learned how many different skillsets and steps are involved in getting music created and released. It was a lot of fun for me to work on that project. I wasn’t used to being the boss and getting to make my own decisions and do whatever I liked the most. When you’re involved in musical theatre, there’s often someone directing you and you’re performing music that somebody else wrote and you want to do it justice. I still love performing MT, but it was refreshing to only have to please myself and do what made me happiest.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Flash forward a few years with some releases under your belt including your newest single “I Am Looking” due out on January 12th. What was the writing and recording process like?
CINDY LATIN: After posting a video of my first Big Band arrangement of one of my songs , “This Place We’re In,” I decided that I wanted to do more. So last winter, I wrote this song and chose it to be one of the four I would record with a Big Band. The song is about feeling anxious (which I often do) and trying to find ways to distract myself from that feeling. I do that by reading a book, watching TV, talking to friends, eating junk, etc. but I’ve discovered that avoiding that feeling isn’t actually possible. I need to go through it rather than around it, actually deal with my anxious self, and think about why I’m feeling the way I do.
Early last winter, I arranged this song and the three others, I did a rehearsal, and then we went to John Kilgore’s studio to record. John was the recording engineer, and he’s brilliant. There was one day for saxes, one day for brass, one day for rhythm section, and one day for vocals. After that, the pandemic started, and I did the rest of the work at home, mixing and adding other production elements.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Switching gears… What’s the single piece of pop culture that’s made the most impact on your life?
CINDY LATIN: I am a massive Harry Potter nerd. I’ve read the series three times and have seen the films multiple times. I’ve been to the theme park, the official studio tour in London, Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station, the Broadway play, and the “experience” they had years ago in NYC. I’ve read Harry Potter fan fiction, and my teenage bedroom was decorated with an HP theme.
I’ve always loved magic and fantasy. I love getting to imagine myself in worlds very different than this one. I’m a big Halloween person as well, and I just love spooky, magic vibes. During darker parts of my life, it’s been a nice way to escape for a little while and play pretend. I kind of feel like Peter Pan, since I never want to grow up, and Harry Potter helps me keep that youthful part of myself alive and thriving.
I love the perfectly flawed characters and watching them grow into fierce people as well.
I’d also like to add that I do not support the views of JK Rowling.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: If you could collaborate with any artist past or present who would you collab with and why?
CINDY LATIN: Stevie Wonder because I’m so in awe of him. He manages to take complex musical tools and use them so effectively to tell the stories in his songs. However, his music still doesn’t sound too complex or contrived at all, people who aren’t musicians still love his music. Often times, when musicians (myself included) use complex writing tools, we overdo it, and this makes our music sound too “out” or complicated. Stevie Wonder’s music is for EVERYONE, there’s something in every song that each person can and does enjoy.
I’d love to learn how to do that, since I feel like I create a bit too much chaos sometimes. He’s also so groovy and prolific. I took an entire class about him in college, and we learned that he wrote 2-5 songs a day. I respect that work ethic so much!
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Throwing in a fun one… What’s your favorite ’80s jam?
CINDY LATIN: Total Eclipse of the Heart!!
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What was the first album you ever owned using your own money?
CINDY LATIN: I have no idea,, but I’m pretty sure the first song I ever bought on iTunes was “Lip Gloss” by Lil Mama. I remember doing a dance to that song at day camp and getting obsessed with it. It still hits!
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: To end… Thanks for taking the time out, Cindy! Is there anything you would like to say or add?
CINDY LATIN: Thank you so much for the detailed questions! I think you hit everything 🙂
Stream Cindy Latin’s new single “I Am Looking” here which is out now.