Even wallflowers will shake their behinds when they hear the eclectic sounds on her EP Manos Arriba. Listen to her single "La Duda"

Por Laura Kusnyer / NYC
Updated Marzo 28, 2008

Hands up, everyone, and get ready to dance. Prepare yourself for the unique sound of Chana, the L.A.-based singer whose new EP Manos Arriba is taking iTunes Latino by storm with the single “La Duda,” which was announced as their “Single of the Week” just a few days ago.

“Crunchy,” “bleepy,” “dancey” and “funky” are just some of the adjectives the artist uses to describe the sounds on the EP, which showcases energetic horns and quirky video game-like beeps. “Manu Chao is definitely one of the influences,” she explains. “I was working with one of the producers, and we said, ‘why don't we just write some songs and not worry about if it's going to be pop enough. Let's just be creative and come up with something cool.'”

And creative is definitely what she got, which is perhaps why it's so difficult to label her EP with just one musical genre. Manos Arriba has been called everything from global hip-hop to electric alternative and electro-pop.

Chana nurtured her interest in eclectic sounds while doing an Afro-Dominican dance and music fellowship in the Dominican Republic during graduate school. “I've always had an interest in tropical influences. On this album there is some tropical influence.

Listen to “La Duda”

But Manos Arriba is more than a collection of interesting dance beats. Chana managed to weave in her honest lyrics throughout the tracks, lyrics that she agrees could be considered “tough and emotional,” which is a reflection of her writing inspirations. “I used a lot of heartbreak with ex-boyfriends for this album. I'm happily married now, but it's great to have experienced emotions with different people because they become part of your creative process.”

As for the choice to sing in Spanish instead of English, Chana explains: “Oddly enough, even though I feel like my vocabulary is way more extensive in English, I love singing in Spanish because I love the sound of it. The o's and the a's and the e's in Spanish, they're inherently poetic. I have an English-Spanish [dictionary] next to me to translate things when I need to. It can be a challenge when there's a word I can't express and I have to research it.”

But perhaps the most impressive challenge Chana has taken on is her choice to be an independent artist, which means funding and producing the album without the help of a record label. “It's a longer road to steer, but it's so much more satisfying.”