duendita makes folk music from queens in 2019
Continuing our series profiling eight of the most exciting new musical artists from around the world, we get to know the hypnotic sounds of duendita.
Photography Kez Coo
This story originally appeared in i-D's The Homegrown Issue, no. 355, Spring 2019.
duendita’s childhood dream was to be a choir teacher. It’s still on the cards. Born and raised in Jamaica, Queens, the 22-year-old studied classical voice through high school, but found, what with her almighty range and unconventionally expressive delivery, that she never quite fit in. Eventually, the artist born Candace Lee Camacho would write songs that suited her better; songs created to encourage listeners to express themselves and head out on purposeful journeys. Inspired by surrealism, nature and her parents’ collection of disco vinyl, Candace released her impressive debut EP, direct line to My Creator, late last year.
“What kind of music do I make?” she muses to herself. “I’m not really sure... I refer to it as folk music from Queens in 2019. This is what someone who grew up in New York with my intersections sounds like, just an honest expression of what I feel. Not only because of the things I see around me, but the roots inside me that I’m still accessing.” Candace has succeeded in creating a hugely emotional musical project whose subjects span meditations on peace, the women of colour lost to police violence, her Afro-Latina identity, and relatable existential reflections on love and life. “New York has taught me to keep it thorough,” she says. “To be 100% in everything. To be upfront, be real about things, and how to survive. Growing up here was very difficult, so it’s sharpened me and given me street smarts.”
Candace is now living between New York and Berlin, where she finished her college degree, fell in with new friends Baketown Collective, and discovered not just the joys of techno, but the fact that her sound evolves with her geography. “It’s expanding as I open my mind, read new things and meet new people. Life is weird when you’re growing all the time.”
Photography Kez Coo