By Hallie Switzer
How to introduce Chilean Canadian musician K-Bust aka. Karla Bustamante? In a breath, she is a multi-lingual multi-instrumentalist, classically trained, pop star! Her experience is completely multi-faceted; moving from Valparaiso, Chile to Montreal, Quebec, studying music production and ultimately emerging on the Canadian music scene as an electro pop artist. Last month she released her second studio album 'Fearless’ and two music videos for tracks off the album ‘Over’ and most recently ‘Torn’. Throughout the process she shared images on instagram and other social medias, displaying not only the polished promo photos and video stills, but also the make-up free studio shots, showing K-Bust jumping between instruments. She chose to show the realities of being a musician; both the grit and the glamour. It's this candid behind the scenes access that deepens her connection with her fans and paints a more relatable 3D picture of a woman in music. This access is intentional, as K-Bust is outspoken on issues relating to sexism in the music industry, and the importance of increasing representation for female musicians. Yes!
I had a chance to talk with K-Bust about the process of making 'Fearless', challenging stereotypes and her daily routine with a new album out in the world!
1) What was the transition like growing up in Chile and then moving to Quebec?
It was a smooth transition actually, I fell in love with Montreal right away, its landscape, people and food. Somehow spending part of my life in Chile prepared me for that transition. From my own perspective, Chile has been greatly influenced by the North American lifestyle during the last decades, in terms of music, food and even the shows that people watch on TV for instance. Talking with friends here in Montreal I’ve realized that we were surrounded by the same pop culture, musically speaking, during our childhood and teens.
2) What was your introduction to music and your early inspirations?
As far as I can recall, I was really young when I started to feel attracted to music. I would say I was around 4 years old. I loved watching music videos on MTV and drawing guitars on cardboard and pretend I was a guitarist. I had many early inspirations; my biggest one was Madonna, she made me realize that I enjoy singing as well as playing an instrument.
3) What was the first song you ever wrote about?
I was very young; I sort of plunged into the feelings of my first heartbreak, the mistakes I made and the regrets I had to deal with. I felt the need to share that
experience with the rest of the world, maybe as a way of taking that burden off my shoulders, it was certainly liberating.
4) What is the music scene in Chile like as a female artist?
I wouldn’t say that I know a lot about it, since I’ve made most of my music career in Canada. What I do know is that there’re many great female artists right now making noise in the Pop and Hip Hop scene, but facing the same gender inequality issues than most female artists face everywhere when it comes to having more visibility on stage.
5) Your voice is so powerful, who are some vocalists that you admire?
Thank you for the compliment. I think one of my favorites is Florence and the Machine; I just can’t get enough of her live performances. Her voice takes me to a different dimension; I love the power and tone of her voice, so unique, I can easily recognize her when I hear her voice in a new song.
6) In your new music video for 'Torn' we see you play piano. I love seeing female musicians play in their videos because I feel like if you don't see it, people assume they are just vocalists and not musicians and songwriters as well. As a multi-instrumentalist, is that something that is important to you?
Yes, back in the day I used to focus solely on my role as singer, as the center of my performance; I think it’s important to showcase other aspects/facets of my personality as an artist as well, like the fact that I am a multi-instrumentalist, to break the gender stereotypes that we've been imposed and that we have to face as female artists. Thus, hoping it can inspire the new generations of young girls to become musicians and play any instrument.
7) If people were being introduced to your music for the first time, which song would you want them to start with?
I think “Over” is my favorite to make an introduction. It’s a very dynamic song that takes the listener into a journey of many nuances and emotions, both musically and vocally speaking.
8) What was the process like for recording your most recent album release 'Fearless'?
I started to write the first drafts of my songs with nothing more than pen, paper and my acoustic guitar when I was living in Berlin. Then, back home out of all the songs I wrote, my producer and I just picked two of them; starting from scratch crafting the rest of the songs that make part of the album. We used to start the writing session staring at a blank new session in the DAW and talking about the topic we wanted to
be the center of the song. Once we had the concept in place, the next step was about finding the sounds that best described the mood we had set for the song.
9) With a new album out in the world, what is a day in the life of K-Bust like these days?
It’s very busy. I usually start my day around 7 am with a good breakfast to kick off my morning. The first part of my day is about checking emails and replying to them, making phone calls, as well as getting on social media and planning my posts on every platform. Making sure I reply to comments and messages from fans.
I also dedicate part of my mornings to read some music blogs that I follow, so I can keep up with what’s new in terms of tools for artists or everything related to the music industry, like the latest trends for instance. Then after lunch I get in the studio, where the list of things to do goes on and on. I usually start rehearsing the songs of my new album; doing some of them on the guitar, others on the piano and then switching to another instrument like the ukulele, to practice my skills. I usually take between 30 to 45 min every time to do vocal exercises; I drink lots of water as well, to keep my vocal chords well hydrated.
My daily routine ends up with a good workout to stay physically and mentally healthy; this allows me to get rid of the stress that comes with life and the pressure of staying on top of every task.
Check out her latest video 'Torn'