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Artist Story: Barbara Cuesta - Between setbacks and the founding of her own label

Barbara Cuesta is an indie-pop and theater musician with an extensive music career spanning many years. Her self-founded label Santianes Records presents her new, politically-conscious album, "Euforia." The album is sung in three languages and features intersectional perspectives of queer, female, non-binary people and those with a migration background.

Published on
July 5, 2023

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What's your band/artist name? Can you tell us a little bit about you and your career/projects so far?

My name is Barbara Cuesta. I am a Singer Songwriter, based in Berlin. In the past I released a German album on Universal Records and an English one with an indie label. Now I'm releasing for the first time with my own label "Santianes Records", named after the village of my Spanish family. It is important to me that the project is carried out by a diverse team in trusting cooperation. It's also important to me in the songs that stories are told away from the mainstream: my protagonists are queer vagabonds, some of whom arrive on boats.

How did you get into music and what were /are your influences? 

I'm one of the lucky people that music has come to. I sang in choirs and wrote songs when I was a kid. Gospel music was one of my first influences. As a teenager I was part of an all girl grunge band. I was very much influenced by female singer-songwriters from America and England. Joni Mitchell, Traci Chapman, but also PJ Harvey for example.

Which partners / artists have inspired / accompanied you on your way and how? 

At the moment I work a lot with another singer songwriter called M.Rider. She did the mixes for my upcoming album and also played a slide guitar on the b-side of Little Blackbird “Again”.

How would you describe your music or your sound? 

Folk Pop or Indie Pop

What was your most formative experience in your career so far? 

Founding my own label, creating a supportive network and getting three different fundings for my project has been an incredible experience during the last two years. I am very greatful and looking forward to releasing what we created.

Can you tell us about highs and lows of your music career so far. How did you tackle it and what have you learnt from it?

My lowest point in my career was when two months after release of my first album I was sent into the office of my manager and he told me that my record was a flop because nobody wants to listen to my music. I had a breakdown after that and literally couldn’t listen on my right ear for two months after what I had heard. It broke my heart. I learned to step away and recalibrate my values. I learned that I make music because I have stories to tell and that I don’t give a crap about making a lot of money or being in the charts. I want to create meaningful connections with my team members and with my audience. So I founded my own label and started working with a small team of people I trust. So far, best experience!

How did you hear about MusicHub and why did you choose our platform to distribute your music? 

I did a marketing workshop at music pool (which I recommend) where another participant told me about MusicHub.

Tell us more about your latest MusicHub release. 

Little Blackbird is a queer love story with a twist. Our protagonist talks to a bird about a rather heavy topic: violence and abuse in the queer dating scene. Our narrator describes their first date with a person who overshares about green stripes they have all over their body that came from an accident in their childhood. Then the person disappears and leaves our protagonist baffled: they discover they have the same green stripes on their body. In a way we all experience things that leave us with marks but particularly queer people still experience a lot of violence in their upbringing, are vulnerable to be bullied at school and to be attacked in the streets. The question is if we want to use these experiences to harden ourselves and pass on the violence or if we want to heal together and soften our hearts. Our protagonists choses the latter: “I’m happy that you passed by // it’s how I understand why // it is a miracle I’m still alive.”

What goals do you still want to achieve? What are your plans for the future? 

There are plans for concerts in Germany, Austria and Spain and there are plans for resting at the beach and jumping into the ocean with friends.

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