Behind the Scenes with Wendy Sulca

Interview with Peru's latest internet sensation.
How old were you when you first started singing?

Well, I started singing as an amateur when I was 6 or 7, because I sang at school.  At about 7 I started singing at shows with my dad, and I put out my first video at 9.

What is it that you like so much about singing, to still be recording new songs?

I like it! I like music, I like what I do, I like to sing. I’ve always been surrounded by music, my mum used to sing, my dad was a musician, and my family is full of musicians – between us we have a drummer, bass player, violinist and a harpist.

How has your family supported your talent over the years?

They’ve supported me a lot. From the beginning my parents supported me. My dad had his band and traveled around playing. When he found out that I wanted to sing, which came as a surprise for him, he listened to me and he liked how I sang. So I would go to shows with my dad, my mom helped me with costumes and hair styles, they really supported me in everything.

What role has your Peruvian heritage played in your songs?

It’s played a big role. I started singing folklore, pure folklore, with my dad - with harp and drums, real folklore. Every time I travel people ask me about my costumes – my dresses show elements of Peruvian culture, for example Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Huascaran... I have some longer dresses with scenes from Peru, they’re really pretty and show the culture and history that is so emblematic of Peru. People love them, the sequins, the embroidery, they’re surprised that it’s all done by hand, and it’s like I’m taking my culture with me when I travel to other countries.

Your outfits are very elegant and colorful, who makes them for you?

There’s a special place in Peru that makes costumes for the famous folklore musicians. It can take one month to make a dress, because they do everything by hand. One of my longer dresses includes a lot more elements, a lot more embroidery, scenery, etc. When I was little I’d have Barbie on there, but now Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, I even had a dress with countries’ flags around the them.
You have traveled to many countries to perform, where is your favorite place to do a show?

I can’t say I have a favorite, each country has its own, unique thing. For example the first time I came to Argentina was really special, it was for Youfest. I traveled with La Tigresa del Norte and Delfin. We played a really well prepared show, we spent two weeks here rehearsing, and played two shows at Centro Cultural Konex. It was packed! It was the first time I’d traveled, my mom cried, and I got really emotional too, because I never imagined I’d play in other countries. It was really surprising and really exciting at the same time, people screaming ‘olé, olé olé olé’, which is very typical of Argentina. Then I went to Colombia and people went to greet me at the airport at 3am, press, fans, with signs, there were about 30 people there at 3 in the morning! It was like a dream. I was really tired when I got there, having traveled a long way, and I saw the signs and the press and thought ‘wow, who could it be’, a whole lot of names passed through my head. So we’re gradually advancing towards the exit, we could see what was happening through the windows, and we go through and the signs say ‘we love you Wendy Sulca, welcome to Colombia’. That was really powerful for me. I had to hide to one side behind the wall for a minute thinking ‘what do I do?’. Then I calmed down a bit, walked through, and they gave me a teddy bear, a big one, I’ve still got it at home.

How has your audience changed as you’ve become more popular?

When I was little we traveled through Peru. Before I became famous on Youtube I was well known in Peru because I traveled a lot with my first album, the one with ‘La Tetita,’ almost all over the country. I sang songs for people of all ages, and had a lot of adult fans – I think because I was one of the first girls that started doing this, singing folklore, because we’d never had that before in Peru, and I think they were like ‘what a cute little girl’ [laughs]. Then it changed completely because I started traveling overseas. I was able to reach more people with my music, through the media, and so my fan base increased drastically. Now I have a lot more followers in lots of different countries, on my facebook I have followers in Denmark, Japan, Israel…

Name some of your favorite artists, artists that inspire you.

I listen to a bit of everything really. I like Madonna, and admire her for how she revolutionized music in her time. I really like Shakira, and Lady Gaga for all her energy, her style. When I was little I listened to Selena Quintanilla [a Mexican-American ‘tex mex’ singer], I loved her, how she crossed borders. I saw the movie about her, and really admire her a lot and loved her style.

Has being famous made your life more difficult?

Yep, it has [laughs]. When I was in school it was really complicated because I traveled, had interviews, recording sessions, a whole lot of things, and so I missed a lot of classes and it was difficult to keep up with my study. But I like to persevere and so I really worked to keep on top of things, my school supported me and so did my friends, they would send me homework to do. I didn’t do badly, I was always in the top 3 places in my class so I did ok.

Are you comfortable with becoming an international star?

[Laughs] I don’t consider myself a star just yet, but I’m very happy, I’m thankful to God and my fans, I think that with my dad’s blessing I have to keep going, keep getting better bit by bit, and grow professionally. I’m taking singing lessons, I’m also an actress and have done some acting in Peru, so I have a lot of things to do. I would love to act in other countries too. I just want to keep getting better and fighting for my dream every day - I feel I’m starting a new chapter now having turned 18, and it’s all about perseverance.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  What kind of music will you be making?

Well, I don’t really plan my future a lot. I just know I’d like to keep improving. I think things eventuate by themselves, based on the work you put in and the fight you give.   In terms of music though, I’ve started singing pop because it’s always good to try new things, new rhythms. My fans really liked the cover I did that was more pop, ‘Explosión’. So I think I’m going to continue with pop, I’m going to record an album and I’d like to do some fusion of folklore and pop or electronica. The plan is to put out a really nice album, not overdone, but very professional.

What other countries are you planning to travel to next?

There are some possibilities, but nothing confirmed just yet. But it’s definitely looking likely, I want to keep going, the Miley Cyrus cover has gotten a lot of attention in the media in different countries so you just have to seize the moment.

How long are you staying in Buenos Aires?  How has your experience been living in this city?

It will be almost a month all up. I really like the people, they’ve really welcomed me, my fans here have been really good to me. I traveled to Cordoba too, and La Plata. I haven’t seen a lot because I haven’t had time but the people are great, at shows people shout and want to take photos, which is really exciting. I haven’t had time to go sightseeing, although I’d love to, but I’m really happy, more than happy, with the way my fans have welcomed me.

If you had one dream for the world what would it be?

Peace, peace and love. I think everyone wants peace, an end to fighting and hatred. We’re all brothers and sisters, and we have to learn to love each other.