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Nena Daconte: “I thought the songs I made were shit and that I sang badly”

Mai Meneses, the singer of the group Nena Daconte, is well known in Spain. Specifically, two of his songs marked an entire generation: I had so much to give you and What star will it be on? Both were played non-stop on the radio during 2006 and 2008. Many labeled him ‘One-Hit Wonder’, but the truth is that Mai He has worked in music all his life.

In 2002 she entered Operación Triunfo and after her brief stint on the program, she formed the group Nena Daconte with her partner at the time, Kim Fanlo. In 2006 she received the Ondas Award as a New Artist, achieving the Gold record for her first album, I have lost my shoes. In 2008, she released her second album, Carnival scrapswhose first single I had so much to give you, It remained at number one on the music charts for weeks..

After, The separation of the group came and the descent into hell. “So much success was fatal to me,” says Mai, who suffered a serious anxiety crisis. Drugs, alcohol and mental health problems, which led him to stop for a long time.

Mai Meneses on the balcony of her new record label.

Esteban Palazuelos

Now, returns to the stage with great enthusiasm, driven by a new energy, and with an album under her arm, Almost perfect. We talked with her about this new stage, songs and feelings.

Mai tells us that she decided to use the song Almost perfect to give title to the album for the idea it conveys, that in life you don’t have to demand so much from yourself, nor should you demand so much from anyone. That imperfect things are wonderful just the same, and it’s something I’ve learned in recent times. It seemed perfect to me that everything was almost perfect,” the singer assures magasIN.

The singer at one point during the conversation with magasIN.

Esteban Palazuelos

There are 10 songs about love, heartbreak, loneliness, all composed by you, except Summer, which is an adaptation of a poem by Marwan. You return to the pop rock sound of the 90s, to the sound of your first albums.

I wanted to go back to my origins, to when I started to like music and felt that passion, to when I started to dream of making a living from music. And then, of course, the references that I had at that time were the music of the 90s: Nirvana, Cramberries, Guns N’ Roses.

It seemed to me that the best person to produce it was Dani Alcover (Dover, La Love You), who is very rock and we have introduced the songs as I compose them, in a simple way, which is always with guitar and voice, or piano and voice.

We went to the rehearsal room like power trio with guitar, bass and drums, and we started putting together the songs, making the arrangements and the sound. It is a very organic album, very simple. There are not 800,000 layers of sound, but it is quite organic and I think we have gotten pretty close to what I wanted to feel with the album.

Nena Daconte presents her new album.

Esteban Palazuelos

How many songs do you have in the drawer?

I’m not one to keep songs in a drawer, although I will tell you that I have composed 12 new ones because I am already working on the next one, but I am not going to talk to you about that one today…

Would you highlight any of the songs on the album because of the story behind it?

I really like the theme I will go, which is a song of breakup, of heartbreak, but in a certain sense it is a song of an empowered woman who says: ‘Look without you, I can live too!’ And there is a part of the bridge of the song that says: ‘If in the end I am left in the dark, because I don’t have you, then I will light the candle that I carry in my heart.’ What this is saying is that in the end we can take care of ourselves when faced with a situation like this.

Nena Daconte releases her new album on March 10.

Esteban Palazuelos

Supertrump’s Roger Hodgson said at a concert in Madrid that music was healing. Is this your case?

Yes it is. I have lived in a time when it was not. Music has been like my heads and tails. I’ve always been coming and going, in a love-hate plan. But for some time now, for about four or five years, music is what gives meaning to my life professionally, what moves me. And on the personal side, obviously, they are my children.

How old are your children?

They are eighteen years old, but they are already understanding that their mother is dedicated to music.

How have you experienced returning to the stage?

Very good. The truth is that since I’ve been with Subterfuge I haven’t stopped touring and doing concerts. Very happy, eager to share my music with people, to explain the songs to them, because sometimes they only know me for two songs and then I explain to them and I win them over little by little…

Mai Meneses at one point during the conversation with magasIN.

Esteban Palazuelos

This year you will be at different festivals like Sonorama. You are also going to be in Gran Canaria for Women’s Day, do we still have a long way to go?

We have a long way to go, but I think we are on the right track. The fact that the topic is being talked about in an increasingly natural and normalized way, I think that’s a big step. But hey, there is still a lot left, especially on the issue of conciliation.

For example, in my specific case, I still think that I am the one who has to organize my entire life to be able to go to work. On the other hand, my partner doesn’t have to organize practically anything, and it seems that 90% of the responsibility is mine. If I work a lot I am a bad mother, and if I work little, I am unambitious or neglected. There is a lot to resolve.

In addition to the glass ceilings that are placed on us, most of us suffer from the imposter syndrome that you also suffered from. In your case, how was it?

It happened at a time of great professional success. But I thought that the songs he made were shit, that he sang badly, that he explained things badly, and that he did everything wrong.

That made me feel more and more insecure and I had to work hard on it, because it is an inner voice that crushes you more than your worst enemy. It’s incredible that it always happens when you have the most success or when you have the most responsibilities, when you are achieving your dream and suddenly, all the demons appear there.

Are you okay now?

Yes. That voice sometimes comes, but I already recognize it and I am aware, and I have mechanisms to not let myself fall into the wheel again.

Now in the Canary Islands you will also present the book, I had so much to give you (Random House, 2022)an autobiography in which you open up about addictions and mental problems and the dark side of success, what has the book given you?

I wrote it as therapy and it has been like a way to get all my demons out. And then, on the other hand, I really liked sharing my experience with other people who have gone through the same thing, and who have come to the book signings to tell me that they have felt less alone, that they have seen themselves reflected in me. history. With only two or three people having told me this, it is already a very comforting feeling.

Is it necessary to make mental health problems visible?

It’s good to talk about them, because the more you talk about a topic, the less afraid you are about it. Taboos must be broken and brain problems must be talked about in the same way as a problem in the pancreas or a problem in the stomach. In the end, it is one more part of the body that can be damaged. What happens is that the result affects the behavior. But yes, I think it should be normalized.

Also to ask for more psychologists and psychiatrists available to children and adults.

Yes, because the truth is that if you don’t have money today they take a long time to treat you, and it is much more difficult to provide therapy in public health.

You mentioned it. You have changed record labels, to a more independent, smaller one, what does this change mean for you?

Above all, it allows me to focus on my artistic career globally, not to look for numbers or stratospheric success so much, but simply to make music, and find my place and my market niche.

Are you much calmer in this new stage?

I have no pressure to run or get anywhere, just to make music and share it.

What music do you like? Who do you listen to?

Well look, I would recommend the album Carrie & Lowell Sufjan Stevens’ album. And then also, I listen to one that I really liked, which is Either/Or by Elliott Smith. I listen to super slow and very calm music.

The album cover in which you appear driving a car also has a story behind it…

The graphic design has been done by Mario Feal with photos by Óscar Lafox. I wanted to recreate the journey of the story The Trail of Your Blood in the Snow by García Márquez, which is where I got the stage name Nena Daconte. In the story, she marries Billy Sánchez and they go in a Bentley to Paris, and many things happen on that trip…

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