An Interview with Eljuri


Eljuri is an artist that navigates through musical landscapes ranging from rock and pop-punk, bolero, reggae, and Afro-Cuban rhythms, all presented with an elegant and empowered female voice. Cecilia Villar Eljuri was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador to Lebanese and Spanish parents, and so far, her songwriting career has enabled her to tour all over North and South America.

Our last catch up with Eljuri was in 2018, and she’s currently in the studio writing material for her 2022 album release, so Anara Publishing wanted to see how she was getting on in the current climate and what influences are key within her music.

Tell us about how you started making music or what initially got you into music?
My introduction to music was as a young child. I would sit under the piano listening to my mother playing her beautiful compositions (tangos, boleros, pasillos). That’s when I fell in love with music and started playing piano at 5 years old, moving on to singing, learning acoustic then electric guitar, songwriting and leading my own all-original bands.

What is your typical song writing process? Is it the same every time? Do you have any routines to get you in the creative frame of mind?
Ha! I don’t have a “typical” songwriting process though I am disciplined and deliberate when I sit down to write songs. Initial ideas for songs come from many different starting points; that can be a lyrical phrase (in Spanish or English or both), a cool guitar lick, a hooky groove or bassline. Once I am inspired with the seed of an idea, I often pick up an acoustic or electric guitar and sing melodic ideas to flesh out the song itself. Once the song feels fully developed, I work out the entire arrangement lead and harmonic vocals, guitars, bass, keys, drums, and percussion in my home studio using my ProTools rig. In my intense songwriting phases, I am often locked up in my studio for many hours and days at a time, especially when preparing for the recording of a new album release!

Can you describe a pivotal moment in your career?
One example of a pivotal moment was when I decided to branch out and launch my solo career. Prior to that point I was in bands where I was the primary songwriter but also co-wrote with other band members and we shared the overall sound. After working in a “band” environment for many years, I started feeling limited and constrained as to the expression of my musical ideas. I decided to go solo in 2007. This was liberating and has allowed me to fully achieve my vision as an artist.

How important do you think publishing representation is for artists and composers?
Publishing is a critical arm to a songwriter’s career as it offers a wonderful platform for the song to get better reach and to integrate with visual imagery. Music publishing is particularly critical in today’s industry where record sales do not provide the same financial support that they once did. As a performing songwriter, publishing not only furthers the exposure of my songs but also expands my fan base as an artist.

Who would you say has been the greatest influence on your music?
While I’ve had many musical role models, I would say my greatest influence in my music was my mother, Olga Eljuri de Villar as she was a successful pianist and composer. Her discipline and her melodic song structure resonate with me always. Being raised in a household surrounded by the love of music and musical instruments made it natural to become a professional musician.

You’re from New York, could you tell us what are the current musical trends in New York? How do you think your music fits these trends?
NYC has always been a hotbed for music. I don’t look to the trends as I have my own artistic vision with a focus on writing and performing great songs with arrangements that service those songs. That said, NY is a city that draws world-renowned musicians both to see in concert as well as to share the stage with. 100% inspiring.

Do you have a favourite use of music in TV or Film?
A perfectly placed song can transform a movie scene. I so enjoy the marriage of visual and audio and how much more powerful each can be with the support of the other. Some of my very favourite song pairings in TV and film are:

  • Big Little Lies (soundtrack including PJ Harvey, Martha Wainwright)
  • Slumdog Millionaire (M.I.A “Paper Planes”)
  • In the Name of the Father (Sung by Sinead O’Connor, co-written by Bono “You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart”)
  • Trainspotting (Underworld – “Born Slippy”)
  • Weeds (Malvina Reynolds, “Little Boxes”)

Do you have any advice for aspiring songwriters/composers?
It’s so important to learn the craft of songwriting which is different than singing or being a musician, engineer, or producer. Musicianship absolutely helps you have more tools available to you when creating the composition. Listen to your favorite songs, dissect the structure and study what you like about them. When you write a song, open up your heart, be yourself and be honest as that will connect the listener to your message. Remember that the creation of the song is finished when it can stand on its own without major instrumental accompaniment or arrangements. Is the melody memorable? Do the lyrics flow and tell a story? Most importantly, be true to yourself and tell your unique story through your songs.