During March of 2013 Catherine Ochoa competed on the fourth season of NBC’s “The Voice.” She started out in team Shakira and was then swept away by team Usher. Though she was eliminated during the Live Playoffs, that didn’t stop this young singer from continuing her career. Now a year after she left the show she has a new EP out called “Unbreakable,” which debuted at No. 16 on the Latin iTunes chart on March 1, the day of the release, and is still going strong at No. 27.
I had a chance to speak with Cáthia the aspiring artists about her EP, her musical journey and her Latin heritage.
Mariana Dussan (MD): Last time we spoke to you was back in August of 2013, when you had just released your new single “Without You.” How has your career grown since then and how did this single and “The Voice” help you to get where you are now?
Cáthia Ochoa (CO): Wow, it seems like a while ago that that happened. It was the summer, I was coming back from “The Voice” and thankfully because of that I got a producer, [Gaetano Lattanzi from] Caelum Entertainment, who is very well connected in the industry. He reached out to me because he saw me on the show and was really interested so I had a meeting with him and we built a connection – a musical one – where he really understands what I’m going for in my sound. We’ve spent from August till now trying to work on [my] EP and it’s finally out there so I’m really happy for that.
(MD): Tell us more about your new EP and what it means to you, why did you name it “Unbreakable”?
(CO): With my music I always wanted to inspire people and really empower people. Whenever you feel like you need a pick me up, like you want to listen to something that is very empowering and has a great message, that’s something I’m trying to convey in this song and in my music as a whole so that’s why I decided to name it that.
It’s extremely important for me to finally have it out because it’s my first production and it’s completely original work. It means a lot and it shows the first step in my career where now I have an original product which I can showcase. I’ve been trying to get more recognition since I was about 16-years-old so it took a while to get here. The fact that it’s been so successful gives me a lot of motivation to keep going because it means that people care about what I have to say.
(MD): Explain the Latin influence in your EP and other genres are you exploring in it.
(CO): Since I live in New York – it’s such an eclectic environment – so there’s some retro sounds in there as well as some ska and reggae, but always trying to keep it with a very feel-good vibe when you listen to it. In terms of the Latin, I have a song in Spanish called “Solo Tu” (“Only You”) and it’s another inspirational track about you being the only person that can really change the world, and [about] becoming someone that inspires others. As for the rest of the tracks, “Without You” and also “Out of Sight” both have very prominent guitar parts. I feel like Latin music [has] such a live feel to it so we try to convey that and since I’m from El Salvador, I’m extremely proud of my Latin heritage and we wanted to incorporate that into this EP since it’s such a big part of who I am.
(MD): Being born in the U.S., does it make it difficult at times to sign in Spanish?
(CO): Spanish is my first language. My mom was born and raised in El Salvador and she has always instilled in us that we need to learn Spanish. I can read, write and speak it, but sometime I have Selena Quintanilla moments when you are thinking of a word in English and you cannot find the translation, so you say [things like]: “Todo esto es amazing.” I’ve had those moments, but I really try to practice. Recently, I went to the Dominican Republic to sing at a couple of shows over there and it really helped me practice [doing] interviews, speaking and signing in Spanish.
(MD): What does 2014 hold for you?
(CO): 2013 was a great year for me being on “The Voice” and getting a fan base. I think 2014 is me going the next step and really branching out as an independent artist, and creating that sound that I think I can have in the music industry. I also feel like it’s the time for me to expand my fan base and really get to do some shows now that I have my EP out. [I also] go to school at Baruch College here in NYC and I study music business, I am in my second year now.
(MD): What audiences are you hoping to capture with your music?
(CO): I’m trying to figure out which path I want to on. For now, because I’m an independent artist that is still starting out I’m just going to see which side of the music industry gravitates more towards my sound whether it’s the Latin or the pop, so I’m not trying to go 100% for one market. At this moment I’m doing both and hoping for the best.
MD: Who are your favorite artists and bands at the moment, those that you have to listen to 24/7 and inspire you?
(CO): Beyoncé, I listen to her all the time. I love Bruno Mars and I love a new artist named Tori Kelly. I like Prince Royce a lot and Aventura, and Shakira is killing it with her new album that’s on pre-order. I listen to all the pop tunes that are on the charts, but I also like songs from before from Christina Aguilera.