Rosalía talks new album 'Motomami' The genre-bending star talks her new album Motomami, expressing sexuality in music and her global approach to pop.

Rosalía is unafraid to pull from every corner of the world

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And finally today, big news in the Latin music world.


ROSALIA: (Singing in Spanish).

MARTIN: The artist known as Rosalia announced a massive world tour for the fall. She'll hit 15 countries and 46 shows in a tour running from July until December. And that makes sense because Rosalia has become a huge star all around the world, both in English and Spanish language music. The folks at the NPR music podcast Alt.Latino have been following Rosalia for a while now, noting her unusual path to the top in the Latin music world and her atypical approach to making music. Co-host Anamaria Sayre had a chance to speak with her, and she is going to tell us more about it. Anamaria, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us.

ANAMARIA SAYRE, BYLINE: Thank you, Michel. I'm so excited to be here.

MARTIN: Me, too. So Rosalia just released her full-length album, "Motomami," last month. It debuted at No. 1 on Spotify's global album chart. It also debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Latin pop album chart. How did she do it? And what's your take on why she's had such a strong impact so fast?

SAYRE: Wow. Yeah. I mean, you're looking at an artist who actually, believe it or not, made her first major project while she was still in school. She's an artist who's all about making music really authentic to her experiences. So the story is, she kind of follows her instincts, and she tries out making this experimental flamenco-pop fusion project as a thesis for a music conservatory in Barcelona. She actually almost goes broke doing it in the process. She releases the album - "El Mal Querer" is the name - and the world goes wild for it. It goes No. 1 on the Latin music charts. It wins her five Latin Grammys. It makes it on Rolling Stones' Top 500 albums of all time.

MARTIN: Well, how does somebody go from being in music school to being a global sensation? I'm just curious. Why do you think this has hit so hard, so fast?

SAYRE: You know, I think we all have been wondering that same thing for a while who have been watching this. It feels extraordinary, to be sure. Most of this industry, as least as far as I've observed, is really based around this perfect storm of who you know and having the right publicists and the right people behind you. And I think that's the true magic of La Rosalia - right? - because what she was making was so captivating and unique, it didn't matter where or when or how. She was going to blow up. She's just that good.

MARTIN: She really is remarkable. Well, Anamaria, I'm really curious to hear what Rosalia told you in your interview. And I want to point out - she doesn't give many. So we'll let you take it from here. Sound good?

SAYRE: Oh, my God. Absolutely. Thanks, Michel.


ROSALIA: (Singing in Spanish).

SAYRE: There's something undeniably magnetic about Rosalia. Her music, her persona, her visuals are gripping in a way that's distinct from your typical pop star. Her album does have its fair share of upbeat tracks, but they're not the kind of pop anthems that feel made for 24-hour radio play. They're energizing in their seamless dynamism. There's shape-shifting and genre-bending within songs. This style is reflective of the artist herself, unafraid to play and pull from every part of her world. She explained to me during our conversation that this inclination she has towards experimentation comes from her roots, the music she heard out of car windows and in tiendas as a kid - flamenco.


ROSALIA: (Singing in Spanish).

I mean, if you think about it, you know, guajira, rumba, Colombiana, milonga - all of that is, like, part of the corpus of flamenco corpus - you know? - which, I think, it shows how flamenco, it's always naturally been like a riddle (ph).

SAYRE: A hybrid.

ROSALIA: And in flamenco, you can always see those influences. And I think it's always been like that, like a dialogue, I think, between artists, between places, between cultures. And I love that cultural diversity, you know, that I think that even nowadays is even more radical, even nowadays is even more obvious (ph), you know, this cultural diversity. And I think it's something to celebrate.

SAYRE: One of the best things I was able to learn during my conversation with Rosalia is that expression is all about authentically representing your experiences - no rules, no hesitation, (speaking Spanish) emotion. She's an artist who doesn't select her colors. She just builds a colorful universe with what she's got. She explained to me that after three years spent in places like Miami, LA, New York, Puerto Rico, the DR, her palette got a lot more colorful. "Motomami" plays with flamenco, of course, but also retro big band boleros...


ROSALIA: (Singing in Spanish).

SAYRE: ...Bachata...


ROSALIA: (Singing in Spanish).

SAYRE: ...Reggaeton...


ROSALIA: (Singing in Spanish).

SAYRE: ...And even some jazz.


ROSALIA: (Singing in Spanish).

I always felt like I don't see music in a compartmented way. But then I think that that - it's always been there. It's just that now it's more radical. It's just that now, because I've been travelling, because of all of that and my life changed, I have more stimulus from more places and people. That makes it even more obvious to me that it's about this human manifestation, this expression, which is music. I choose these styles, as you said, the bachata, the reggaeton, all of that, because I love them, and I want to honor them. And I feel like those were the right styles for the - what I wanted to express in this album, you know?

SAYRE: You've been featured on a ton of different artists' records. But on this album, you only have two features. So I'm curious, like, because I love that you - like, you very much, like, own this album. It's your record. You own the sound. But where did that choice come from? I'm sure you were very intentional about who you chose to feature.

ROSALIA: It's a pretty intention. I love that you say that because the whole album, when you hear it from the beginning to the end, I mean, you can feel it or not. You can like it or not, love it or not. But, like, it's intentional. You're going to feel that intention. Every detail in it is intentional, from the production to the lyrics to the references and to everything. And this is the first time that I did an album that has autobiographical stuff. So for me, it was really important that the personal tone, the confessional, the diary tone would be present from the beginning to the end. So if I would make an album with this intention, but then I would make so many collabs just because of streams and numbers and all of that, it would lose that original intention in it.

SAYRE: During our time together, Rosalia expressed insights that gave me a window into the kind of once-in-a-generation spirit she possesses.

ROSALIA: There's generations that think that some music is better than others because sometimes people would use music to distinguish socially. And that would happen - no? - before. But the thing that nowadays, new generation, I think that it's different, you know? Like, personally, I always felt - and the people around me, we always felt like there's no music better than others. There's no styles better than others. There's no good or bad in music.

SAYRE: Right. That is such an interesting way to look at it. Like, it's like our generation is now saying, like, music as a form of whatever expression fits you.

ROSALIA: Exactly, because at the end of the day it's about, do you feel it in your skin? Do you feel it like - almost like the goosebumps? Do you feel it good? Do you feel the goosebumps? Yes or no? - because if you don't feel that, that's fine. And if you feel it, that's amazing. And that's it.

SAYRE: I think it's fair to say a lot of people are feeling the goosebumps when they listen to Rosalia. Anamaria Sayre, NPR News.


ROSALIA: (Singing in Spanish).

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