Selena Garcia woke up one day and quit her job. She sold her belongings and packed up her cozy life in Los Angeles to hit the road for the unknown. Over the next nine months, she drove across the country — playing shows, meeting with producers, and soaking up everything that her new environments had to offer. Her travels took her to Austin, Nashville, New York, and as far as London. Eventually, she settled in New York City.
“I loved every city, but had no doubt that New York was the city that was going to push me to be my best. LA was my home base for several years before I knew that in order to get better, I needed to leave my comfort zone,” says Garcia.
Four years after the release of her debut EP, Garcia rolled up her sleeves and got to work on the album’s follow up. She enlisted the help of the community through the use of a Pledge Music campaign and began searching for the right team. A recommendation from a friend paired Garcia up with Philadelphia-based Lance Davis who took the reigns on producing the album.
“I was looking for that gut feeling and that’s exactly what I got with Lance. After six months of back and forth to/from Philadelphia, we finished the eight song EP (released in fall of 2013).”
In addition to Davis, Garcia attracted renowned arranger, Larry Gold (Lana del Rey, The Roots, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake) who composed strings for the release. The legendary Lurssen Mastering (Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Jacob Dylan, Ingrid Michaelson) also came on board to master the album.
The self-titled project explores themes of heartbreak: letting go of love, fighting with a love, and being scared of love altogether. “The first three songs on the EP are pop based but by the fourth song, things take a serious turn. It represents my journey from west coast to east coast and you can hear this from track one to track eight,” explains Garcia. The EP also includes several blues-inspired tunes, one that was recorded live in the studio that unexpectedly made the album.
Of all the songs on the album, Garcia pens “Brother” as her favorite. “It’s the most cathartic,” she explains. “It’s gritty and the heaviest in terms of rocking out.” The soulful tune was co-written with bassist Daniel Shuman and inspired by some discouraging news. “I was on my way to Daniel’s house for a writing session when I found out that my brother was being incarcerated. We had not had a relationship for some time due to our different lifestyles and that was tough news to receive.”
The New York-based vocalist is also drawn to several other tracks on this EP. “There is a song called ‘Careless the Girl’ that I thought Lance would for sure throw out of the running to be on this EP. To my surprise it was the song that he flipped out over the most. He even insisted that we use the demo vocal track. The EP version is a mix of the demo and his production. There is no big chorus, just vibe.”
Another track, which was inspired by Michel Gondry’s romantic drama Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, was the EP’s first single. “I got the idea for ‘Eternal Sunshine’ after catching my friend at the gym (who was going through a terrible breakup at the time) running on the treadmill like it was the only thing that would save her. I had spent time there myself a month before ‘working out’ my own heartache, so I imagined hearts splattered all over the floors and walls of the gym. Because we cannot erase someone from our memory, we do our best with the tools we have. For many, it’s working out,” she exclaims. Garcia describes the track as an upbeat tune that carries a relatable message.
As a child, Garcia split her time between Northern California and Washington State, spending summers with her mother in Alaska. It was during those summers that she first began to experiment with writing songs. Between her mother belting out Barbara Streisand around the house and her father’s affinity for Motown, music was in her veins from a very early age.
“When I was a kid, all I wanted was to be like Cyndi Lauper. I watched a VHS live concert she did over and over until the tape was worn completely through. At 5 years old I even did a lip-sync to Jem and the Holograms for my grammar school talent contest.”
Garcia eventually enrolled at California State’s Music Business program and began singing in the university’s A-Capella and jazz choirs. During her senior year, she performed her first solo show. She bravely took the stage in front of a crowd of 500 and was quickly noted as one of the top standout performances of the evening.
Following graduation, Garcia relocated to Los Angeles in 2002 where she began playing shows with a live band – eventually making the famed Hotel Café her second home. Several years later, she released her first EP titled “Don’t Worry…It’s Not Love.” The album collected rave reviews and Garcia was featured in Music Connection’s “Hot 100 Unsigned Artists” – an honor she’s received a total of 3 times. She’s since toured North America, opened for The Green Children and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zero’s, and recently shared the stage with Nashville buzz band Johnnyswim in New York City.
Garcia has been referred to as “A sister to Fiona Apple.” Her smoky voice hails comparisons to the likes of Amy Winehouse, Adele, and Sade. Her lyrics have been described as “fresh and real” and emulate the spirit of her storytelling idols like Nina Simone and Etta James. One part jazz, one part soul, with hints of blues and rock, Garcia possesses an eclectic style that places her months ahead of the monotonous trends of radio.
Photographer: Shervin Lainez
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