43 million views on the video. 51 million streams on Spotify. Double platinum. Two latin Grammys. These are some of Rosalía’s achievements with only one of her songs, “Malamente”. Her biggest hit – so far – made her career flourish out of Spain. Rosalía was born in the suburbs of Barcelona and at the age of 25 is conquering an international audience with her album “El Mal Querer”. Her differential? Mixing traditional flamenco with pop and urban music.
In March, Rosalía is visiting South America and is performing at Lollapalooza Argentina and Chile. For now, there’s nothing in Brazil on her schedule, but she dreams of the day she’ll finally get to know the country. In this interview for POPline, the spanish singer revealed she’s a huge fan of brazilian music and that she really wants to work with Caetano Veloso some day.
POPLINE – People in Brazil are finally getting to know you because of all the awards you’re receiving now. Did you expect to win two Latin Grammys at the beginning of your career?
ROSALÍA – No, no, no, no! I didn’t! All the nominations were already a huge surprise for me. Five nominations for ‘Malamente”! I couldn’t believe it. I was thrilled, because these nominations are made by artists and other professionals in the industry. To have this support for my music, this affection, is very good.
How was it to perform at the Latin Grammys for such a huge and global audience?
I was very moved, because I celebrate the fact that a song like “Malamente” has this stamp and this space for a global reach. “Malamente” is inspired by flamenco and sometimes it doesn’t have all the opportunities I wish it would have, because it’s my favorite song in the world! To be able to perform there, among artists that I admire, with my band, my music, without concessions, doing it my way, it was a great honor. I’m really grateful for this opportunity. The stage is my favorite place in the world. The stage and the studio, right?! I was very moved to be able to share that moment with the world.
People normally use concepts of flamenco, pop and experimental to define your music. How do you classify what you make?
Nowadays, flamenco is something very solid and I have all the respect for what is considered to be flamenco. I’d say my music is inspired by flamenco and would not have any sense without it. Flamenco is more than an inspiration. I also have a lot of references, either musical or non musical, in my album. I believe I do a lot of experimentation, as you said, but it depends on the project itself. I don’t know if my first album, “Los Ángeles”, is pop or if “El Mal Querer” is pop. I celebrate this definition because for me pop is mainstream and it’s a lot more about the reach than a musical style. I’ve got references from all kinds of music, electronic, experimental, african, Gregorian chant, urban and also a lot of flamenco inspiration, so I like to explore.
Your album talks about a toxic relationship, right? What was your inspiration? Have you ever had this kind of experience?
Hmmm… before everything, I had another title for the album. It was developed when I was in my senior year in college, studying music, and it was focused on flamenco. So first I came up with the concept, the idea of splitting the songs into chapters. I started to write… it was my final project. The inspiration came from song titles, from thinking about an obscure love and also from an occitan novel called “Flamenca”, which tells the story of a woman who’s imprisoned in a tower by her husband. In a certain way, for me, this story connected well with the title “El Mal Querer” and with what I wanted to do. It was essential to create the whole album narrative and the chapters. The clearer I had the chapters, the faster I’d write the lyrics, because it was more solid what I wanted to evoke with each one of the songs. This is a musical work but also conceptual.
I read that you worked with the theatrical group La Fura Dels Baus. Is it true?
Yeah, I was like 20 when I was with them.
Has it influenced your performance or your music in any way?
I guess all the artists who I have worked with affected me somehow. Collaborating with other artists makes you evolve as a musician and enhances your work. Any collaborative work that you do affects you and you take it for life, right?
“Los Ángeles” came out in 2017 and “El Mal Querer” now, in 2018. Its seems like you have the ability to write and create music quickly, am I right?
I’d say so, I guess it’s easy for me to work in studio, but a couple of other things are harder. For example, singing and dancing and creating the shows. I like to think about everything, but music is the most important for me. Every time I’m in the studio I’m writing and to be honest I dedicate long hours to that. I arrive in the morning and I leave late at night. I stay there for a long time. It’s not like, ‘look, I have an album’. No! It’s the result of a lot of dedication. It’s my job. It’s not like ‘oh I’ve dropped an album and here comes another one”. It’s not only me, there’s a whole team involved and I trust the people surrounding me. But making music is something I love doing, a lot of music really, and little by little, even though I have a great pace in the studio.
What are your plans for the next year?
I want to continue working in studio and evolve with the “El Mal Querer” show, which I’ll be taking abroad. My plan is to write and collaborate with other artists that I love.
Are you already working on a new album or just on random songs?
Hmmm… I’m always in the studio. I like to write, produce, even for other people. I make music by impulse, from necessity e after that I decide what I’m going to do with them. I think about the shape afterwards.
The Latin Grammys and the performance at the EMA’s introduced you to different countries. Is the international career a dream of yours?
I guess for all the people who make music, we always want a wider audience, right? I feel very moved when I’m able to travel to other countries with my music and get to know different cultures.
Do you have any plans to come to Brazil?
Yes!!! I’d love to! I really want to go! I don’t know exactly when, but I get so excited just from thinking about it. I’m a huge fan of brazilian music. No doubt, one of my biggest influences is Caetano Veloso, for all of his career and his free will when he’s making music. I would love to collaborate with him in a song! I really want to go to Brazil. Hopefully, I’ll make it happen, because I love this place!
You won the Latin Grammys for “Best Urban Fusion/Performance” with “Malamente”, beating two brazilians, Anitta and Pabllo Vittar, who were in the same category with “Sua Cara”. Do you know this song?
Yes, of course! Anitta is a great friend of mine. I think Brazil has an incredible talent and a unique musicality. That’s why I feel so honored to have fans out there. I see them on Instagram! It was a great honor to be nominated for the Latin Grammys in the same category as two amazing brazilian artists.
Before we finish, could you leave a message for your followers in Brazil?
I really want to go there and make music, live! I want to get to know this place and all the people there. I feel like your music inspires me and I really want to share my songs in the place!