Creativity is a goddess that flexuously dances beyond borders, and so does Yilian Cañizares - a magnetic performer rooted in jazz, classical music and Afro-Cuban rhythms. For the past few months, the Cuban-born singer and violinist has taken a deep dive into the immense cultural heritage of Haiti, to then immerse herself in the restless energy of New Orleans before returning to her home in Switzerland with an impressive new album, Erzulie. We asked her more about her creative process.
Nick Cave once said: “Inspiration is not the sacred fire that comes down from the sky, but a need that must be nourished”. Do you feel the same?
Totally! The creative process must be constantly nurtured, and you can only do so through constancy and work. When inspiration comes, it must find us working - and then, out of nowhere, the magic happens!
How would you explain your creative process?
The notion of honesty is very important. You have to try and undress the soul, however difficult it may be: this is the only way to create from the heart. It is also important to put yourself in danger, to get out of the comfort zone. You will only keep repeating yourself again and again if you don’t, and it won’t be funny! (laughs)
What are the ideal conditions for you to compose?
There is no such thing for me: I can create everywhere, at any time, if my soul and my spirit are ready for it.
We can tell you are omnivorous consumers of music, books and art at large: what's behind the imagery of your latest album?
I really love reading and consuming art, but for Erzulie I was mainly nourished by my own experiences - what I saw, felt and lived while being in Haiti, Cuba, Africa and New Orleans. I was also reading a lot about women and feminism: The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir or Women who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés were part of my route companions.
What's your last fixation, in terms of sound? And how did you come across it?
Dhafer Youssef! I think I'm obsessed with his music (laughs). If beauty has a sound, I think it must be that one. I have also gotten more into electronic music lately. I know it could seem strange for someone coming from Cuba but… you know what? I know no boundaries!
And that sounds just about right: creativity should know none.