Spotlight: Sara Ontaneda Speaks on Her Cultural Influences

Sara Ontaneda went into depth surrounding her latest single “Separated by the Sea”.

What we initially felt was a passionate message to her brother Sebastian Ontaneda (who also produced the track), Sara mentioned that the song is more of a metaphor of how we wish we could’ve spent more time with our loved ones before being quarantined.

She mentioned that in Latin culture, family is a staple and is a vital aspect of life. Wanting to tie in togetherness during these times we’re separated, Sara Ontaneda initially showed her brother Sebastian the “Separated by the Sea”, where he was instantly moved.

A proud Ecuadorian who’s also spent some time growing up in the states, Sara Ontaneda let us know that it’s extremely important to tie in both cultures into her music as they're both an equal part of her life. Explaining that she misses the rest of her family dearly and feels guilty for not seeing them as much, it became clear to Sara that she had to stick to her roots and provide a song that her family would be touched by.

Choosing to write this song in English instead of Spanish, Sara Ontaneda noted that the instrumentation seemed more Americanized. Thus leaving her to tell her honest and vulnerable story in English for North Americans to relate as well. Releasing an album titled “Experimento” in the fall of 2021, a few shows lined up after the pandemic, and constantly finding inspiration from all her walks of life, Sara Ontaneda has lots in store for the future.

You can listen to "Separated by the Sea" here.

Welcome to BuzzMusic, Sara Ontaneda! We really feel the heavy emotions you display within your heartfelt single “Separated by the Sea”. What made you feel the need to musically express a message to your brother in song?

Thank you! The message of the song is not specifically for my brother but is more a metaphor for the people that matter in our lives. I wanted to express a feeling that we probably all can resonate with, during this social-distancing period, which is we wish we made more time for the people we love. 

Not to mention the beautiful polaroid was taken with Sara Ontaneda and your brother in the studio that’s now the artwork for “Separated by the Sea”. Does your brother help produce your music, and did he have a say on this track? Or was this more secretive, and acting as a surprise gift for him?

Yes, my brother, Sebastian Ontaneda is the producer of the track. He had a say in arrangements, and what sounds and instruments were being used. He also mixed and mastered the song but I remember first showing it to him and he said he was touched by the message. 

Speaking on the songwriting process for your recent single “Separated by the Sea”, Sara Ontaneda brings in such pure and clear lyrics of family love. How did Sara Ontaneda manage to write with such vulnerability, and how did you find lyrics that fit how you feel towards your brother?

I think in Latin culture we are always surrounded by people. Family is probably the most important thing and many of them have moved back to Ecuador over the years. I miss them terribly and sometimes feel guilty that I don’t get to see them that much, so yeah, overall the song comes from a very honest place. 

I wanted the music video to have the same feel and that's why I asked people in my social media to send me their polaroids of precious memories. I was honored to receive those pictures and learn the stories behind them. I really think this song is about togetherness and that concept tied up nicely in the music video. 

We’ve noticed that Sara Ontaneda’s music ranges from Spanish to English lyricism. Why did you want to keep “Separated by the Sea” purely English, without adding in your main language?

What's next for you?

I grew up some time in the States and some time in Ecuador and am comfortable equally with both so I really like to show that in my songwriting. I like keeping some songs in Spanish and some in English. I guess when I wrote this song, which came to me pretty quick in a moment of vulnerability. it just came out in English. I also think that with the folky, guitar-picking guitar style, the language goes really well. 

What's next for you? 

Currently, I’m finishing up the final touches of my album “Experimento” which I’m hoping to release sometime in the fall or early 2021. I have some shows lined up, as cities start to re-open. One of them is at the East Coast Music Conference in Norfolk, Virginia which will take place from August 6 to 9th of this year. You can find out more following my socials and my website. Thanks, BuzzMusic!