El Sonido Live: Get to Know Rubio in Three Albums

El Sonido
Albina Cabrera

Our celebration of Ibero-American music is just around the corner. El Sonido Live will take place on Friday, July 21 at our Music Heals Stage at Seattle Center. From 5 to 10pm, we will have Pahua from Mexico, Carolina Durante from Spain, Usted Señálemelo from Argentina, and Rubio from Chile gracing the stage. As a musical guide, we will travel through the songbooks of the artists visiting Seattle and learn a little more about their favorite things in our city.

Rubio is the musical project of Francisca Straube, a talented Chilean composer, drummer, singer, and producer who is currently based in Mexico. She’s not a stranger to the Emerald City. Rubio had her last Live on KEXP session recorded in 2018, hosted by DJ Chilly. Her music blends electronic elements with dark-pop atmospheres and ambient sounds, which can be heard in her two studio albums – PEZ from 2018 and Mango Negro from 2020. Currently, Straube is preparing her third album with a new single called “Tu Olor” already released, giving us a taste of her upcoming material. We can expect a medley of songs in her set, but before her arrival, we wanted to learn a little more about the albums that have influenced her life.

KEXP: What are the three essential albums in Rubio's life?

Fran Straube: I love In Rainbows by Radiohead.

That album is very important to me. I saw them live, in the second row, and for me, that album is a work of art from beginning to end. I am a huge Radiohead fan, but that album... I think it's a beautiful work of art, and I believe it's a great album that never goes out of style. I don't listen to Radiohead as much as I used to, but that album never gets old for me, it's like a must-have in my life.

KEXP: Great choice, Fran. And the second one, what would it be?

Fran Straube: An album that had a musical impact on my life and was a turning point for me was James Blake's self-titled album from 2011. It's Blake's debut album.

I find it difficult to be surprised by musical projects, but when I discovered James Blake's music with that album... I was living in Barcelona, and it was like, "No! What is this?" Nowadays, there are thousands of people like him, almost forming a genre of their own. For me, it was like falling in love with a musician all over again, something that hadn't happened in a long time. You lift a rock, and there are bands like him. It hasn't happened for many years, and the admiration continues. That sound is a significant reference for the music I create. I admire his aesthetic, his taste. I love good taste. So it was a great discovery for me. That album, from start to finish, is really good.

KEXP: It's unforgettable when you listen to an album, and it blows your mind from start to finish. I'm not sure if with these two albums you mentioned so far, it was love at first listen or if it grew on you over time.

Fran Straube: It was love at first listen, yes. In fact, I saw him live in Barcelona when he wasn't well-known yet. I was living there, and I saw him, and I was like, "What is this sound?" It had a significant impact on my musical career, a before and after.

KEXP: As the third album, you chose Let England Shake by PJ Harvey. How did this album come into your life?

Fran Straube: I was also living in Barcelona at that time. I was younger, around 23, and this album had a great impact on me, coming from Chile and moving to Europe. I connected with many bands with a whole culture of bands that were so easy to see live, which was something I couldn't experience in Chile. It was like seeing all of them. And I love PJ Harvey. I find her really cool, and she's incredibly talented. I love people who are known for their art. It's also kind of like my motto. If I'm going to be known, let it be for my work. I'm not good at many things, like socializing [laughs], and I see her as someone very talented, very genuine in her art. She doesn't go around showing off in other things. It's also about older generations, where nowadays everything is on social media, and some people are known more for their image than their art.

Nowadays, image is more important. I love being in a band, playing instruments. I'm more romantic in that sense.

KEXP: This isn't your first time visiting Seattle, and I'd like to know how you would compare your first time here to now. What did you know about the city, and what did it represent for you?

Fran Straube: Well, for me, it's the home of Nirvana. I'm a huge Nirvana fan. They were the first band I ever knew. I was crazy about them when I was young. I'm a drummer, and I knew all the drum parts of Nirvana's songs. So, going to Seattle was like going to the land of my childhood idol. And also, KEXP. My music has always been influenced by the curation of KEXP. So, playing where my artists, my idols played, was like a dream come true. As a neighbor from Latin America, coming here felt like the biggest dream of my life. When we arrived, I remember I wanted to cry all the time. I was so emotional. It was very exciting because I don't know how one gets into KEXP sessions, and there were so many bands I admired, and RUBIO was also there. So, it was one of my dreams to be able to perform there, you can imagine. Coming back now feels really beautiful. The world moves so fast, and there's so much information that sometimes I pause and see everything I've built with my art, and it's so beautiful. I give myself a little pat on the back in my heart. And I see how people enjoy my art. It's lovely to feel that you can make a living from the art you create. So, I'm grateful to myself for the journey I've taken and for being in those sessions, which is like a dream come true for me. It's beautiful, pleasant, and I'm also very grateful. I think making music is also a form of resistance. So, while you resist, you keep giving and giving because something inside me, whether it's my angels, my teachers, my guides, they tell me not to stop. So, it's nice to be recognized.

KEXP: Wow, Fran. What you're saying is so exciting, really. We all need those pauses to reflect and see what we've built and gain strength to keep moving forward. You deserve it. Since you're a big lover of music and KEXP sessions, what is your favorite Live on KEXP?

Fran Straube: Now that I remember, I really like Warpaint's session. I truly love that band.

Related News & Reviews

El Sonido: Cancioneros

Helado Negro: Ecos of Healing

Helado Negro opens his songbook and his memories as a Latinx person raised in the United States, breaking down monolithic barriers surrounding Latinness.

Read More
Interviews El Sonido

El Sonido Live: Get to Know Pahua in Three Albums

Pahua discusses favorite records from Massive Attack and Bomba Estéreo ahead of her performance at El Sonido Live on July 21

Read More
El Sonido: Cancioneros

Ana Tijoux: Revolution

In our seventh episode, Franco-Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux shares her the songs that informed her as a South American woman, artist, multiculturalist, and revolutionary.

Read More