Seductive yet relatable Paraguayan songstress Alessa Ray joins us at MediDate Coffee in Downtown L.A. to discuss her upcoming EP, its lead single “Mamacita,” and her choice to make herself a part of the Spanglish music family.
So first off, I wanted to say congratulations on your debut single “Mamacita!”
Alessa Ray: Thank you so much!
What inspired the direction that you took with the instrumentation and your choice to do both Spanish and English for singing?
Alessa: So what’s funny is that song was originally written in English, but seeing that there were a lot of successful Spanish-English songs on the charts made me feel very inspired to follow that style. I ended up changing the chorus to Spanish, and it naturally turned into a Spanglish song. And people have really liked it so I am very happy.
Yeah! I’ve definitely noticed the same thing too where Spanglish tracks tend to be a hit for multiple demographics.
Alessa: Exactly! And also coming from South America, it’s showing a bit of respect for my culture, so that’s why I made the decision of changing the words to Spanish.
Cool! And you’ve also released a music video for the song. What inspired the concepts and the storyline that went into the video?
Alessa: When I was first getting ready to release the music video, I had this vision of wanting it to look colorful and to show a lot of dancing. Latina girls, and Latin people in general, are known for their dancing and being seductive and being upbeat. Since it was summer, I thought it would be a really nice opportunity to shoot the video. So my concept ended up becoming a love story with dance and colors with Latin elements that would relate to the music.
It definitely came across and I absolutely loved it!
Alessa: Thank you!
You’re also in the process of releasing an EP. Would you care to share with us a little sneak peek as to what we should expect from the other songs?
Alessa: Oh, you can expect all upbeat songs! I’m a very upbeat person, and what I want for my audience is for them to have fun. I like to have fun when I write the songs, so if I feel that I’m having fun in the melody and the line that I’m writing then I think that I made a good track. That’s just my process, and I end up with an upbeat mix of Latin influences. You can expect a little bit of Tango, a little bit of Salsa, mixed with an electronic sound.
And with your choice to do more upbeat style songs, is there any specific reasons why you didn’t want to include any ballad style songs on the EP?
Alessa: With it being the first introduction to me as an artist, I wanted to start it with more upbeat music. Eventually, I would like to do more ballads and to show a more emotional side of myself. I first wanted to start off with fun parts, and then later showing the more vulnerable parts because every artist needs to show that side of them.
Yeah, I think it gives a good introduction to who you are as an artist because there will always be opportunities to show your vulnerability in later work.
Alessa: Yeah. A lot of artists do that where they first start off with the fun parts and showing their personality. Then they slowly start to show their vulnerable parts in their music and people begin to know them a little better.
It’s almost like the natural progression of getting to see an artist for who they really are.
Which song was your favorite to write and record?
Alessa: “Mamacita” was actually my favorite song because it was just super fun in the way that I wrote the story for it. I really liked including all of the Latin elements and also the title itself, which is also why I decided to use it at the single. I thought it was the strongest one.
Cool! And are any of the other songs going to be Spanish and English as well, or just “Mamacita?”
Alessa: Yes. I’m doing the Spanglish for the other songs also.
Now you had attended the Musician’s Institute to study music. Do you think that taking these classes gives you the opportunity to learn about the industry?
Alessa: I mean, there a lot of super successful musicians that had never had any kind of music education who still ended up successful. I can’t make any statement to stay that you have to study it or that you do not, but in my case, I thought it was very helpful. I don’t come from a musical family, so I wanted to study develop more of my singing and songwriting skills, and know a little bit about the production so I can release the EP to show myself as an artist.
And I think that’s so awesome that you decided to even start doing the music classes to pursue your dreams.
Alessa: Yes, absolutely.
Do you think that women in the music industry, in order for them to be successful, that they need to portray herself in certain ways to their audience?
Alessa: Not really. What I think is that just have to be who they are. The more honest they are, the more people will like them, and the more people will relate to them. It’s just about showing who you are, and it’s sad when they feel like they have to be something they’re not.
It really is. And what advice would you give to your younger self in regards to music?
Alessa: I would probably tell myself to be writing more songs, working more on my craft, performing more, and collaborating with other artists more because it’s an awesome way to meet new people with the same interests as you.
If you could choose three artists to go on tour with, who would they be and what would you name your tour?
Alessa: The people that I believe would be more like my style are Becky G and Sofia Reyes because they both sing in English and Spanish as well. I’d probably also choose Cher Lloyd or Ariana Grande. And the name of the tour would probably be the “Mamacita” World Tour. *laughs* Just having those girls dancing around the stage and singing would be such a fun tour.
And it’s definitely all upbeat music. Just a huge dance party! *laughs*
Alessa: Exactly! You know, Taylor Swift did this world tour with Camila Cabello and Charli XCX, and the dream is to just be able to reach that level. *laughs*
Alessa: Oh my god! Hopefully soon right? *laughs*
Which artists and musicians would you say have influenced your sound?
Alessa: To be honest, I don’t think that I sound like anyone performing right now at the moment. But the artists that really made me want to be a singer were Alicia Keys, Celine Dion, and Etta James. I love those singers and I’ve always admired them and always wanted to sing like them. Actually, studying them helped me develop my own sound. Even though I don’t sound like them, listening to them and singing their songs helped me to find my voice.
That’s so awesome to hear! Would you say that listening to them helped with learning English too?
Alessa: Oh absolutely yes. It really helped me with singing in English and also with speaking English in the long run.
I hear that all the time with people watching tv shows and listening to music as how they learned English.
Alessa: Yeah exactly! It’s all the same because you have to learn it and try really hard at it. When you learn a song, you learn the lyrics and then you learn the meaning behind the song. So it’s even more of an amazing experience.
And if you could do a Spanish cover of any of their songs, what kind of songs would you choose?
Alessa: I would love to be “Fallin’” from Alicia Keys or Lady Gaga’s “A Million Reasons.” Oh my gosh, a Spanish version of those would be so awesome to do!
Covers in different languages are always so cool to hear!
Alessa: Yes! There actually are a lot of people who do that too.
What do you hope your audience away from your music?
Alessa: The ultimate goal is to have my audience to relate to my music. In the lyrics of my music, I talk about things that pretty much happen to everyone. Even if I write about my problems, there could be another person who could relate to what I’m talking about. I also want to keep my music upbeat, so I want my audience to relate to the lyrics while still having fun.
And last question. Apart from your EP, which is coming up soon, what other exciting things should we be expecting from you?
Alessa: Live performances for sure. Lots of collaborating with other artists and producers, some rappers. My other goal is for me to work on my merch. Those are the biggest things and I hope that you all like them!
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