Breaking Boundaries with YEÐ˜DRY in her new single â€œSe AcabÃ³â€ (Itâ€™s Over) with Mozart La Para
With the upbeat tones and percussions derived from the multicultural influences of the Caribbean, along with the melodic and electronic sounds that formed through her European experience, YEÐ˜DRY’s music is a medicine created for all citizens of the world. More importantly, her presence in the music-sphere is one accompanied by the complexitiesâ€”yet alluringâ€” attributes that exist within her bicultural identity. This reality sets her apart from rising artists and centers on the facts of the immigrant experience.
All your projects are done with authenticity and intent. Even the story behind your song â€œNenaâ€ is very powerful. What was the production process like for â€œSe AcabÃ³â€? Do you envision the production and find artists that can emulate the sounds that you want, or do you work on already built beats? Or kind of a balance of everything?
For â€œSe AcabÃ³” it was weird because I wrote that song one year ago, I was still in a relationship. Apparently everything was okay, but I wrote that song, and one month after we broke up. It was weird, it was weird. I produced the song with Saxo Music, the Saxo brothers. The lyrics came out very naturally, and thatâ€™s really what scared me, because I was in this relationship and everything was okay. Regarding the sound, I wanted to have synthesizers, the pads, to make it more electronic. At first I was a little bit I was not sure about the beat. Itâ€™s not that I wanted to avoid reggaeton, but I was trying to avoid putting myself in a box. At first I thought the beat could be too similar to reggaeton. But you know when you like something as it is? We tried to rearrange it, but it wasnâ€™t working. The song was born that way, so we kept it that way.
I remember two months ago I was in the Dominican Republic, in Santo Domingo doing promo for â€œEl Diablo.â€ I shot a documentary to show my culture and everything, and I thought â€œSe AcabÃ³â€ could be a song for the Dominican Republic, I thought it could be something special, so I shot a video in the city, so thatâ€™s what we did for the visuals and everything. I made the song, I had everything ready, and there was this contact with Mozart La Para and he wanted to jump on the song. So I came back to the Dominican Republic for two days. In one day we recorded the song and we recorded his vocals. I was impressed by how humble he was, you know because you never know with these big artists. He came, and he listened to the song and he asked what the story was about, if he should be angry at the girl, or if everythingâ€™s all good. He literally improvised on the song. He never wrote down lyrics. So talented! The next day we shot his part of the video. Everything was so quick, and it worked.
Your COLORS performance received a lot of attention on social media, and soon after you signed to a label and an agency. Did you expect such a response? What can we expect for your future performances?
I recorded it in July and it came out in September. Iâ€™ve always been a fan of the platform, I discovered some of my favorite artists on COLORS. Thereâ€™s a Dominican guy that works for COLORS! So when I received the proposal I remembered a conversation I had with my manager. He asked me my goals and I wanted to be on COLORS, but I thought it would be three years from now, and I did it in one year! I was so happy about it. I remember I was so nervous, because I was questioning what I was going to wear.
COLORS is about the essence of music, thatâ€™s why I like the platform. Thereâ€™s the voice, thereâ€™s the artist as they present themselves, and an empty and neutral space. I was just going to go how I felt. I asked my friends that have a brand thatâ€™s super minimal, and thatâ€™s how I like stuff. And I had a dream of myself wearing white. The guys are amazing, they really put music first. You have to take off your shoes, itâ€™s like a temple. For me itâ€™s one of the most important things that iâ€™ve done, but I didnâ€™t expect the hype after that.
Now I realize that itâ€™s something different. My performance is something different from other artists, one because it is in Spanish, and because Iâ€™m Dominican. So maybe people didn’t expect me, to sing like that, to be Dominican and to sing something like that. I am happy! One beautiful thing that happened was that a lot of Dominicans were texting me that I represent Dominicans outside in a different way and that I represent the brown girl with curly hair, that most of the time Dominican artists donâ€™t represent, like female artists. Thatâ€™s a cool thing.
Yes, and I love the reversal of what is socially accepted in the song â€œEl Diablo,â€ how was that process.
In that song, I always thought that I wanted to represent something different from what Latin female artists usually have in their videos. Like I donâ€™t see myself twerking in front of the camera. I see myself doing it in a Nathy Peluso way, but I donâ€™t want my whole aesthetic to be focused on my body, and thatâ€™s it.
I remember for â€œEl Diablo,â€ I was aiming to send a message of a powerful woman that can be sexy because she wants to, not because society imposed that. I asked my friend who is a stylist, before I used to style myself because I prefer to style myself, how can we send this message without being â€œtoo much.â€ We asked some local designers in Milan who have a message.
I was wearing a colorful dress that had a lot of symbols for empowering women because I wanted to do it with a purpose, I didnâ€™t just want to put on a nice dress and thatâ€™s it. And the song was about that. The song was born because I was in LA eating my dinner and this guy really wanted to pay my bill. I was like, no donâ€™t worry I can pay my bill. And he was like do you want to go out with me, and I said no thank you, you know, trying to say no. And he kept insisting and started to talk to me about his beautiful house and his cars. Like really? Do you think Iâ€™m going to change my mind because you told me you have a beautiful house? Maybe I can have a beautiful house too. Maybe I have millions in my bank account.
I remember when I wrote the song, I went to the studio the day after, I just wanted to write something about it, and the words â€œYo soy el diabloâ€ came out, and I played with it.
How is your composition process? Do you meditate on the lyrics or do they come naturally?
I would say that most of the time I have to think about the lyrics. My first process, the first phase of the process for me is vibing on the song. Usually I like to start from scratch; we create the beat and then we add harmonies and chords. What I feel is that I just started to sing. For â€œNenaâ€ it was the same, for â€œEl Diabloâ€ it was the same. I have songs that are more meditated, but the ones that I released are the ones that came out naturally. Usually the melodies came first and then while Iâ€™m vibing I have a theme of something that I want to talk about because the beat takes you there, most of the time the beat takes you to a world, and most of the time that comes with visuals. Itâ€™s very natural as a process, I would say.
Itâ€™s very evident that thereâ€™s an authentic source that you are pulling from, as a viewer, as a listener, I donâ€™t take away that you are trying to emulate or be like something else, which is very easy to find artists doing that; making the same drill or trap music that someone else would make. Music can get so saturated because people want to fit a market that already exists.
Thatâ€™s when youâ€™re chasing. Sometimes you as an artist feel the pressure to chase some melodies because you know they will work better, but thatâ€™s what I donâ€™t want to lose honestly, and even with this song that can seem more accessible or more commercial, I still didnâ€™t want to lose my melodies or my essence, I donâ€™t want to sing things that I donâ€™t like, itâ€™s not credible and it doesn’t work.
Not only are you part of a Dominican diaspora, but you are also part of a black diaspora, in its many nuances. You have your own identity that you hold on to, but then there are the identities imposed onto you. Race manifests itself differently anywhere that you go. Can you talk about your experience as a Dominican artist in Italy? How does this bi-national experience influence your music?
At first it was a more personal thing. At first I came to Italy when I was four years old. I could not see myself in that society because they were all blond, and white. I wanted straight hair, you know. And my mother told me I can’t be this or that because I have to accept who I am. I remember living in the countryside, which is worse because if you think about it, the generation before us was the one that really struggled.
I think that I started to adapt myself. I switched, I forgot Spanish. I thought, if I am going to live here I need to learn Italian and speak Italian better than them to show them that I could be part of the society. I realized growing up in the countryside, because there is more ignorance over there, not in a bad way, but they just donâ€™t know. In the countryside I had to change schools once because they were calling me nigga or telling me to clean their shoes. Stuff like that. Now if I think about it, they are adults now. At that time I was the only brown girl. Itâ€™s weird right, because I was the only brown girl in town so they didnâ€™t know how to approach me. I had super close friends, but I had people that didnâ€™t understand me as well.
At first I tried to fit into something, but then I remembered that I moved to Turin, and thatâ€™s when I started to see all the black girls. And they were living. They had a different style and they were not shy about it, they didnâ€™t care. I went back to the Dominican Republic with a different mindset. I wanted to embrace my culture and come back to Italy and be bi-cultural. There is nothing wrong with it. The community keeps growing because times are different, but thereâ€™s still that type of racism thatâ€™s subtle.
It happened to a lot where people in Italy took for granted that I speak Italian. Like oh you speak Italian very well. Like yes, I am Italian, I grew up here. Or they would say how do you wash your hair? Same as you…
I still haven’t written about it in my music in a cool way. I donâ€™t feel hate, I just feel people need to be more informed and the culture needs to circulate more. It’s up on us to spread our culture and make them understand, but it is also up to them to want to understand. It is hard to talk about these topics. I wish one day I can have a song talking about it. Maybe I can collaborate with someone that has my same story.
I never sing in Italian because I donâ€™t like the sound of my voice in Italian, I still have to find my place because of course one day I would like to play at a big festival and sing in three languages.
I think you can do it. Part of it is embracing that you can do it. To that end, on getting things done; how has the pandemic impacted and influenced you as an artist?
There was definitely the restrictions with the curfews and the masks. It was not easy at all to shoot a video, â€œEl Diablo,â€ for example, was shot in Italy while there was the lockdown it was hard to take everyone out of the house because everyone was scared, and they didnâ€™t know what was going on.
I can say that I always had a different approach to law and legislation. I still think that you have to be responsible for what you do. Even for the â€œSe AcabÃ³â€ video we had to test ourselves and be as safe as we can, but at the same time we know that Mozart La Para will come to film that the kids will come out, but you know I can’t be a hypocrite about it. Kids are playing in the streets all the time, those are the same kids that are playing there everyday with each other so if they come to see Mozart La Para I canâ€™t ask all of them to put their masks on. Itâ€™s hard.
Itâ€™s not simple, especially because people are used to following the rules and they will criticize you if you donâ€™t follow the rules. Itâ€™s hard to keep creative during these times because everyone is down, they are on standby. I talk with my friends, and I have the honor to be able to travel for work, but that’s because I decided to take a risk. I am not staying home. I have a career, I am a new artist, I am not staying home. But my friends, maybe they donâ€™t want to risk anything, so they stay home. But when I talk to them, they are bored. But you arenâ€™t doing anything to not be bored.
I invested everything that I had, but the sacrifice is also mental. Iâ€™ve been alone in hotel rooms for months without seeing my family, and I donâ€™t have a life right now. I am with my manager every single day. We are together trying to hustle every situation. Occasions and opportunities present themselves and we are surfing. I donâ€™t want to stop because this hard job is going to pay off. I hope I will have the time one day to enjoy my life with my parents and my family. But right now I canâ€™t stop.
During the first lockdown everyone was saying they felt so inspired, but that didnâ€™t work for me because I was staying home, I could feel that there was this scary vibe outside. No one knew what was going on, people were depressed. You can feel that, and that influences you as well. During the first wave I took time for myself, I watched a lot of movies and read a lot of books. During the second wave I just decided to be on the road and to work. The problem is the performances. As a new artist, people donâ€™t really get to see what I can do on the stage, thatâ€™s the main problem for a new artist right now, but I can say that the lockdown and the restrictions also helped people online, itâ€™s a double face thing.
Can you describe to us your evolution as an artist and where you see yourself this time next year?
I hope next year I can tour, honestly. Thatâ€™s what I hope for myself, I hope to have a great show and connect with real people.
How do you visualize your shows?
I visualize my show with a band, and some dancers, but only for a few songs, and for the rest I would like to have dope graphics behind and salsaaaa! I want the intro to be pure salsa, a big festival, electronics sounds, like the bass. Thatâ€™s how I visualize my show.
Sounds like so much fun!
Iâ€™m doing all of this for live music. I love performing but people havenâ€™t seen that yet so they donâ€™t know. That’s why my COLORS received a lot of love because thatâ€™s live, you canâ€™t fake that. They donâ€™t touch it, they put a little bit of reverb, but thatâ€™s it.
Thank you so much YEÐ˜DRY for being available to have this in depth interview with us.
Thank you for the interview, it was super interesting!
Photography and creative direction by Prince Chenoa
Art by SebastiÃ¡n ChicchÃ³n
Styling by Lina Palacios @linagosh