Up Next: Ecuadorian Singer-Songwriter Daniela Is Making Pop Jams With Meaning

credit: Maysa Askar

Up Next is a FIERCE series highlighting rising Latina and Latin American women artists you might not know about but definitely should.

Daniela is ready to be the next big thing in Latin pop.

At just 21 years old, the Miami-based singer-songwriter has the voice, skill and drive to get her to the top of the charts. Her debut song “Otra,” which released last month, already has more than a million views on YouTube, a feat that inspired the emerging artist to celebrate the first of many hits to come with a tattoo.

“It’s on my hand forever. I will always remember my first video that hit a million views, and thankfully it was my debut,” the Ecuadorian star-in-the-making told FIERCE.

Performing at Calibash Las Vegas last month, and ready to soon hit the stage at Fuego Music Festival and Calle Ocho, with a collection of self-written, tropics-inspired strains on deck, you’ll soon be hearing more from Daniela in the months to come.

We chatted with the New Jersey-born, Wellington, Fla.-raised singer about her musical inspirations, empowering women through her lyrics, writing pop jams during urbano’s Latin takeover, repping her homeland and what to expect from the rising ecuatoriana.

FIERCE: You’re just 21 years old and yet have this really mature, raspy voice. When did you realize you could sing and that this was something you wanted to pursue?

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happiest when I’m surrounded w pink ❣️

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Daniela: Music has always been a really big part of my life. My grandfather was a musician and, growing up, he and my grandmother would always give me presents like a piano, guitar, voice lessons. I was always singing. There are photos of me at 4 years old singing Shakira. It was always known. I was never like, what do I want to do? I need to go to college. No, it was always, Dani is going to do music.

FIERCE: You grew up in an Ecuadorian home in Florida and also spent some of your younger years in the South American country. What sort of music were you listening to at home with your family or out with your friends and how do you think this has influenced your style today?

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have you heard “OTRA” yet? Links in the bio ????

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Daniela: It’s really weird. My grandfather really loved country music, so I grew up on Dolly Parton and the Dixie Chicks. I liked a lot of soul music, a lot of Thalia. I listened to Como Ama una Mujer by Jennifer Lopez with my mom all the time. All the music I listened to had meaning in the lyrics, no matter the genre or language. As long as the lyrics told a story, it was played in my house.

FIERCE: You’re a pop artist, but one who melds tropical rhythms and sounds to your music. Tell me, who would you say have been your biggest musical inspirations?

Daniela: Musically inspiring, it depends on what I’m looking at. I get inspiration from a lot of different things. I love Shakira, love her! I love Ariana Grande’s new sound. I the love way she carries her voice and self and her message. I love old JLo, that Como Ama una Mujer album. The meaning of the lyrics are so powerful that they’ll hit you to the core. I have a lot of influences. It just depends on what I’m writing about and doing in that moment.

FIERCE: You released the music video for your debut song “Otra” on Jan 25. Congratulations! This is very exciting. The video already, in just a few weeks, has more than a million views. That’s a feat for anyone but especially for an emerging artist like yourself. What’s this like for you?

Daniela: Well, I celebrated and I got a tattoo when I got a million views, so now it’s on my hand forever. I will always remember my first video that hit a million views, and thankfully it was my debut.

FIERCE: The song, which is really fun, is about giving so much to a partner, not receiving what you need in return and finally saying, “ya, I had enough! You can be someone else’s problem now.” This sentiment is super relatable but not always easy to go through with. Tell me, how do you, Daniela, know when it’s time to leave a relationship that’s not serving you?

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Daniela: It’s funny you say that. I love to to hear what the song means to different people. And I’ve heard this before. Personally, for me, I see the song, when I get into a relationship, I give too much of myself and forget I need to keep myself in mind. This is not written about a guy. It’s actually written about a personal family relationship, where this person was asking me for so much and I didn’t want to deal with it at all. They feel like they could only find what they want in someone else and then they will be happy, by forcing someone to do what they can’t do. But what actually happens is you force someone to walk away. Yesterday was the first time I went out in a month. I give so much of myself that I have to force myself to stop by not giving too much of me away.

FIERCE: That’s interesting. As you say that, I can definitely see this now in the music video. From “Otra” to your Instagram, you seem like you’re the type of artist who wants to empower women to be the bosses of their own lives and futures. Why is this important to you and how do you think you’re able to accomplish this through music?

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Las nenas quieren preguntarte si encontraste a OTRA? @davyspace

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Daniela: So the way I started writing music, I was 12 years old, and I was writing in a journal. It was filled with things I wanted to say to people but never had the courage to. I see music as an outlet. I now go to my journal and say things I didn’t know how to say by writing it in a song. I couldn’t tell that family member how I felt, so I did in a song. Luckily, I have that outlet and voice. With my voice, I want to create that and speak about things women deal with without compromising my image and self. I want to be a different voice and incredible power for women.

FIERCE: You performed “Otra” at Calibash Las Vegas just last month. What was this experience like for you?

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que yo ya aprendí conmigo no juegas ????

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Daniela: Omg, it was so much fun! I hadn’t been on a stage in a really long time, so to get on with my single, “Otra,” which came out the day before, and do it in front of 22 thousand people, it was crazy. Then, backstage, everything that could have gone wrong did. Things weren’t working, the mic they gave me was turned off. When the song started, I had to run on stage and improv last-minute. It turned out really great, though. There’s no feeling like being on stage.

FIERCE: Latin music has taken over the globe, again, with artists emerging almost every day. I know you write a lot of your own music, which is super cool. Tell me, when you are tackling a new song, how do you try to write one that can bang during this urbano takeover, still feel like you and also stand out among the rest?

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I got a secret / tengo un secreto ????

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Daniela: It’s so hard. It’s so hard. It’s the hardest thing, especially because when I write, I’m a sucker for a love song, ballads and songs with double meaning. I actually haven’t written a love song in two years. Every song I write is about something around me, problems I’m going through, and since I haven’t been in a relationship, I can’t write about that. Most of the time I’m in the studio, we all talk with a bottle of tequila, because I love tequila, and talk about our problems. Sometimes, if I have no inspiration, I’ll ask, “who was the last person who texted you, what’s happening there,” and that’s what I’ll write about. I write my lyrics, and I approve my lyrics. My manager lets me know what I’m missing in production and points out if I’m going overboard. For me, it’s about the storytelling, so I know when I just have to listen, which is hard for me to let go of that. But being an artist, you have to believe in the team that supports you and listen to what they tell you.

FIERCE: When we think of mainstream Latin pop music, especially today, there aren’t a ton of Ecuadorian artists at the frontlines. What does it feel like for you to represent for your people and culture in this way?

Daniela: It’s a really humbling thing when people say that to me. Ecuador is a small country. Not a lot of people come here and do music. I had an Uber driver recently who was Ecuadorian, which is rare, and he was telling me how he never really meets Ecuadorians. So I  love working and learning with my people. I love my country and have a lot of pride to do what I do.

FIERCE: With your debut song and video to your Calibash Las Vegas performance, this year has already been exciting for you. What else can you tell us is in store for Daniela in 2019?

Daniela: You’re going to get to know a lot of me. I’m not going anywhere. There’s lots of music coming and a lot of festivals I’m performing at. I’ll be at Fuego Music Festival, then Calle Ocho and have a lot of showcases, TV appearances and lots of things. It’s so wild because we just released “Otra” and I’m already in meetings about the next release. There’s no time to breathe,  but it’s exciting and I’m ready. There are so many songs, and I’m ready to hear how people relate to them.

FIERCE: What sort of genres or themes do you explore in these songs?

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Me voy pa’ la Calle buscar algo más… ????????

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Daniela: So a lot of them explore a lot of family topics. For me, I listen to a lot of music and most of it, especially the Latin market, is very defensive and will talk a lot about partying. Mine are pretty sad. I didn’t realize how sad I was. They’re like all sad. I did write one song, finally, like a month ago, that’s a happy love song. I’m excited about it. My sound is really tropical, musically. I also have one with gorgeous violins. All the lyrics mean something. I try to be playful, so it’s not so heavy and deep and instead is fun. It’s a growing process. I think when you hear it, you’ll get to know the different stages of who Daniela is. Every song gives a new piece of my heart.

FIERCE: You’re 21 and at the very start of your career. What do you hope people can say about Daniela in 10 to 15 years from now?

Daniela: I hope they say she is a really strong woman who worked really hard to get to where she is and that she seems happy.

Read: Up Next: Meet Eli Jas, The New York Latina Making Bachata-Pop Self-Love Jams

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