The enigmatic sadness that exists in certain music and artwork, possesses duende according to Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca. Duende, as Lorca once described, is that “mysterious power which everyone senses and no philosopher explains.” It’s the inexplicable artistic revelation that derives from experiencing darkness and pain. The concept of duende is not only the inspiration behind Candace Camacho’s stage name, duendita—it’s the spirit that flows through her songwriting and soulful sound.
The oldest of three girls, duendita grew up in Queens, New York. Both of her parents are Puerto Rican, and when asked about what parts of her culture she holds closest to her heart, duendita spoke of her ancestors, “I like to say their names, and draw their names.”
The New York City singer and producer most recently released her single, ‘bio’ (pronounced “bee-yo,”). The track, produced with her collaborator NB, is an “existential dance song” that reflects on creation and reality—an involuntary occurrence in which humans don’t get a choice. We don’t get to decide to be born or not.
When asked about the name of her new song, duendita spoke on the etymology of bio. “It means life.” Her relationship with ‘bio’ is layered, tied to her time in living in Berlin and her broader ancestral heritage. In Berlin, Bio indicates that a food is organic. Across Berlin, ‘bio’ supermarkets offer a space for shoppers to buy affordable, healthy produce. “When I was in Berlin, I ate right,” duendita shared with a grin.
A self-described, “city girl,” duendita comes from a long lineage of farmers. Her ancestral background is the reason that she began gardening. “The stresses of their exploited labor echo in my body today,” shared duendita. Speaking on the pain of this part of her cultural heritage, duendita pointed out that these connections to her ancestors are necessary. Their past, and their struggles, are part of what made her and led her to bio. “I hope as I grow older to become more comfortable with our journey on earth.”
Although her songs comment on heavy existential topics, duendita embraces sadness and loneliness in her music with soul and tenderness. The Afro-Latinx artist addresses the heartache and pain that is often a result of racial and gender discrimination from years of oppression and counteracts it with soft melodies and tones. Her debut album released in 2018, direct line to My Creator, is a 10-track long conversation with God and her loved ones that touches on the dark sides of humanity yet provides a sense of relief through prayer, love and sisterhood.
In our first Latina Live Session, duendita shares her new song with us.