interview: getting soulful with calma carmona

February 10, 2014

Calma Carmona is stunning. There’s absolutely no doubt about it. Calma, who is a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, takes that sizzling Latin passion and uses it to churn out some equally stunning soul music. Her most popular track “When I Was Your Girl” surrounds you acutely in an ambience similar to Erykah Badu’s. You could close your eyes and at some points, it’s as though Calma is channelling the spirit of the Badu, right down to her beautiful long locs wrapped effortlessly on top of her head. There are several delightful moments when songstress Calma falls back, allows the band to take the lead whilst she stands silently and soaks up the energy of the music as if recharging her batteries. Calma Carmona touches everything she does vocally with an understated elegance. Check out Calma’s interview with

By Ayara Pommells, AFROPUNK Contributor *


Tell us about ‘There’s No Other Girl’…

There’s No Other Girl is actually inspired by a song called “There’s No Other Girl” by La Orquesta Oliveri. It’s like a Latin soul group that was based in New York in the late 60’s and that sound, it’s just inspired me a lot. I’m a mix of a lot of different things. I’m Puerto Rican. I was an army brat so I was raised between Puerto Rico, the south of the states and Germany.  So I have a lot of influences that make me who I am. That Latin soul era really inspired me to dig deeper and kind of create my Latin soul based on the places I’ve lived and experiences I’ve had and what made me who I am today.

So if you were to describe your sound, would it be Latin soul?

Well, to be honest it’s just soul. I think country’s soul. I think rock is soul. As long as I make whoever I’m singing to feel something, or feel whatever I’m tryna say… That to me is soul. Why do I call it Latin soul? Again it goes back to that exploration of mixing sounds and just kind of – I am Latin and I am soul. It’s just the sound that I’m playing around with right now but I consider myself a soul singer.

What made you decide to cover “Fever”…?

To be honest, the cover is based on a cover that La Lupe did. If you go back and check La Lupe’s career, she has been the only female called the “Queen of Latin Soul”. So I did it as a tribute to her. Also, I didn’t want to make a Spanish album and just direct it to the Latin community. That is a big part of me. It is who I am but at the same time, I have another part of me so I’m kind of playing a little bit with the idea of singing in Spanish and English and for a moment there, whoever speaks Spanish or English will forget that’s in Spanish and English. It’s really hard to sing soul in Spanish. The phonetics. It’s taken me a long time to give that same attitude and feeling in Spanish as well as English. I thought that was the perfect song.

You have lived all over the place but you were born in San Juan…

Yes. I was born in Bayamón which is near San Juan but I was raised in the south of the US, in Puerto Rico and in Germany. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I got to not only experience the private school sector, the public schools and it’s made me who I am. That’s why all that richness is taking me a long time to find my own voice because there’s so many influences. It’s taking me a long time to find my own voice. To find my own sound. Now I feel comfortable enough to put it out there.

What is San Juan like? I’ve never been.

Everything’s on island time [Laughs] so, y’know it’s very laid back. It’s a lot of festivities. It’s the Caribbean culture with the Latin flavor. Since we are a commonwealth, almost everybody speaks Spanish and English. You’ll love it. If you love going to the beach and having a $2 beer and sitting around with your friends.

Favorite place to perform?

I performed in New York for the first time last year and it has always been a dream of mine. My home is PR, but singing in New York, it was just so “wow” for me, you know? I thought it was cool. As of now it’s been the most exciting because I’m so used to playing here. It is hard. It’s pretty competitive here.

What was it like opening for Beyonce in Puerto Rico last year?

I still can’t believe it. [laughs] Sometimes I think about it. It went so quick. I was in New York and I got the call that I got the gig and it was a week before. And they were like, “You can’t use your band”. I was like “What?!” You know, she could have just come here and used a dj. I still can’t believe they gave me that shot. Out of that experience I’ve gotta say that even if it sounds corny, it can be done.

Were you nervous?

It’s crazy ‘cause you get really, really nervous but once I step on the stage, it’s like cathartic. You become this artist. You hear people say it. When you go through it, all the nerves go away once you start singing and you hear the people. I wasn’t used to singing in such big stadiums. I couldn’t see anybody. I like to see the people. It was the coolest thing.

Two things you wish music could cure?

The loss of a loved one and self esteem. There’s a lot of people that have so much talent and so much potential and they’re the only ones holding themselves back. That’s a big one.

What’s next for Calma?

The track “When I Was Your Girl”, the producer of that track DJ Nature, aka Mark Underwood, aka Marcolino – we’re working on a new project together. It’s new music and it’ll be out by this summer. We are working on that profusely.

Will you be traveling to any other countries this year?

I hope so.  Out of my EP, I got some offers from record labels and stuff like that.  I decided to go my own way. [Laughs]. So this year I’m faced with a lot of challenges. The main one is that I just want to put my music out there and to share it with everybody and not classify it as Latin. I want people to make their own opinions about it. So this year is a very big year. It’s gonna be challenging but we’re up for it. Hopefully if the project is out there, we’ll be opening for some artists.

Describe in one sentence what 2014 will be about for you…

Do Or Die.

If you’d love to hear more from Calma Carmona, you can purchase There’s No Other Girl (Live Session EP).

* Ayara Pommells is Owner of UK website and a music writer for, & as well as an entertainment writer for Kontrol Magazine. Follow @YahYahNah.