“It’s something that I only dreamed of doing,” Ximena Sariñana tells Billboard about playing in venues as big as Madison Square Garden in New York and the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles this summer.
A darling of the Latin alternative scene, Sariñana will join Colombian rock star Juanes??? for 20 dates on the U.S. leg of his Loco de Amor tour starting July 28. But before then, she will embark on a tour of her own to promote her latest (and third) album, No Todo Lo Puedes Dar (see all tour dates here).
Sariñana’s Ain’t Gonna Say No tour kicks off May 16 at the Pachanga Festival in Austin, Texas, and will make stops in Houston, Nashville, Chicago, Washington, D.C., among other cities, as well as the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee and the Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York.
Sariñana promises “a very energetic show, a little more acoustic than my last tour, but with a lot of classic rock arrangements and more alternative pop sounds.”
Having rehearsed extensively back in Mexico with her band, she says, “We are really sounding tight and I have the feeling people are going to enjoy the show.”
A 29-year-old singer, songwriter, keyboardist and actress, Sariñana is no stranger to experimentation. After a hit debut album, Mediocre, which garnered two Latin Grammy nominations and one Grammy nod following its release in 2008, she took a different route for her sophomore album in 2011. The result was a collection of English-language songs showcasing her ethereal voice, thoughtful lyrics and offbeat personality.
“At the time it was a huge risk, but doing an English record changed my life and the way that I approach my work,” says Sariñana, who grew up fully bilingual. She was born in Guadalajara and moved to Los Angeles as a kid, before moving back to Mexico and attending a British school.
“It was really mind-opening and humbling,” she adds of her experience recording in English. “I got to tour with amazingly talented people, like Sia, who have worked so hard to get to where they are. I worked 150 times more and complained 150 times less.”
On her latest, all-Spanish album, Sariñana enlisted a new collaborator in the form of producer John Congleton, known for his work with St. Vincent. “John is transforming how people listen to indie music,” she says. “He helped me see mixing as more than just leveling sounds and giving them a fine-tune because he does it in such a creative way. My production would not have been as amazing and straightforward if it hadn’t been because of him.”
On her newest single, “Ruptura,” Sariñana sings of heartache, backed by gentle keys and lush strings. It’s a familiar tune and a sound with which she has become associated.
“By your third album people are sort of expecting you to know what you’re doing so there’s a lot of pressure but I definitely think that I have developed my own sound,” she says, proudly. “It’s authentic and people can tell.”