Chilean Artist Rubio Discusses Her Brand of Dark, Existential Alt-Pop

by NEW YORK DIGITAL NEWS


There’s a word in Spanish that the Chilean musician Francisca Straube frequently uses to describe herself: inquieta. It translates closest to “restless,” and it captures her creative spirit perfectly.

For years, Straube was a drummer in several punk bands and indie acts, like the beloved outfit Miss Garrison. And then, around 2018, the itch came. “I think I’m restless both creatively and physically,” she says with a laugh. “I wanted to keep making songs, I wanted to play at libraries, I wanted to do shows at museums.”

And that’s where Rubio started. Straube never thought she’d have a solo project of her own, but she began pouring all her energy into Rubio, turning out deep, moody songs that melted together hints of dembow, electronica, and chillwave sounds. Pretty soon, fans started flocking to her music, urging her to release more. “I never thought I’d have a solo project,” she explains. “I came from bands. But all of a sudden, I start getting this feedback as Rubio. People start approaching the project and from there, with the first album, it all took off like a rocket.”

Straube’s latest project Venus & Blue is even more versatile, leaning into the cool darkness and existentialism of her past EPs Mango Negro, from 2020, and Pez, from 2018. No song on Venus & Blue sounds quite the same. Straube starts things off with “Lo Que No Hables,” a dramatic opener that feels like smashing together a classic piano, a metronome, and an early Radiohead cut. From here, Venus & Blue switches into dooms-day dembow on “Llorar,” a song dedicated to the art of crying. (“And I cry and I cry and I cry, even when everything is alright,” she sings on the track.)

“I have a harder time with happy music,” she says with a laugh. “I find a lot of it great, but it doesn’t hit me the same as nostalgic sounds or minor tones — that’s what connects to me more. I’m also kind of a loner, I’m nostalgic, I’m super existential. All of that flows into the music.”

For Straube, there’s a connection between the desolation in her music and geography. “When I started Rubio, I was living in El Arrayán, which is very mountainous outside of Chile. There’s a lot of nature and a lot of nostalgia,” she says. “So there’s something about that feeling, that cold in Chile… Obviously, you can’t generalize because everyone is different, but so many influences from where you are make it into the music.”

Straube began making music when she was about 11 years old. She grew up to “hippie” parents who loved and collected music, and she was encouraged to pursue her creative interests. Once she got older, she began studying musical composition in Chile, where she dove deeper into understanding melodies and harmonies. She never thought she’d be a singer. “I remember we had this old band and we were looking for a vocalist,” she recalls. “I was always really fussy during auditions, I’d be like, ‘I don’t like this, I don’t like that.’ Finally, someone was like, ‘Why don’t you sing?’ And I was like, ‘I play drums!’ And they said, ‘So play drums and sing at the same time.’ And that changed everything.”

Recently, she’s exercised even more of her music dexterity. At El Sonido Live, a showcase put on by KEXP this summer, she played guitar in front of an audience for the first time. And she plays a large creative role in her videos, which are always powerful visual statements. In a visualizer for “Kintsugi,” which was directed by Vertov the Noise, she wanders around a lush forest with a bleeding heart in her hand. But the real showstopper has been “Nacimos Llorando,” a short film directed by Fernando Cattori, that tells a shattering story of LGBTQ love and heartbreak. It came out in October, and it’s partially set to “Kitsungi” and “Llorar.”

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“The idea was to do something cinematic,” she says. “I felt I had a lot of things to say on this album. Before, there had been a lot of energy on the aesthetic and I was in a lot of the videos. But for this, I didn’t want to be in it and instead tell stories that really leave something imprinted in people’s hearts.”

Straube is already busy at work on new things. She spent time touring in the U.S. with indie darling Ambar Lucid, and she’s already thinking about producers and artists she wants to do more with. “I already feel like I want to start releasing stuff. I want to start working with other producers and doing more things,” she says with a smile. “Like I said, soy muy inquieta.”



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