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Up Next: She’s The First Chilean To Be Signed To A Major International Record Label In Our Generation

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

Paloma Mami’s face and name are currently on a digital billboard at the center of Times Square. For passersby, she’s a new PYT shining under New York City’s flashing lights. For Amazon, who’s behind the advertisement, she’s an Artist to Watch in 2019. For urbano fans, she’s the young chilena songstress we’ve excitedly observed thrive from independent hitmaker to anticipated Sony Music Latin signee in less than five months.

Born Paloma Castillo Astorga in New York City to Chilean parents, the 19-year-old up-and-comer is not playing games. Making a name for herself in music as a contestant on Rojo, a Chilean reality TV talent competition, where she was a fan favorite, the singer-songwriter left the series because she did not feel comfortable signing a contract that would’ve prevented her from making her own music. Boss moves for a boss mami. Her first single “Not Steady,” an independently produced viral song and video about refusing to compromise herself for romance, caught the attention of the record label, which signed her in October. Since then, Castillo released her second single, and first under Sony Music Latin, “No Te Enamores,” a Mambo Kingz and DJ Luian-produced reggaeton banger sticking to her message of female independence that garnered more than 1 million views on YouTube on its Dec. 21 release.

The rising star, who has spent the last two years living in her parents’ homeland, is fighting to put Chile on the musical map. With back-to-back girl power jams, Castillo, the first Chilean to be signed to a major international record label in our generation and a performer at this year’s Chile edition of Lollapalooza, makes accomplishing that lofty goal look easy. Melding soulful rifts over urbano rhythms that range from trap to dancehall, Paloma Mami has become one of the most gripping and rapidly ascending young acts in the game.

We chatted with the new mami of urbano about her growing success, leaving an opportunity of a lifetime to follow her own dreams, believing in her gifts, making hits for self-sufficient women disinterested in romance, New Year resolutions and more.

FIERCE: Happy New Year! You ended 2018 with so much to be proud about, from signing to Sony Music Latin to your second jam getting a million views on YouTube in less than 24 hours, that I’m sure you have to be excited about what lies ahead for you this year. Tell me, what are some of your career resolutions or intentions for 2019?

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Paloma Mami: I think my goal is just topping 2018, getting more known in 2019. I would like to have a lot more people know who I am this year and definitely have more music, more content, out. I have a lot of goals. I think the billboard thing is huge. I’m one of Amazon’s Artists to Watch in 2019, and they have a billboard in New York with my face on it. I’m from New York, too, so it’s crazy. Times Square is like the most popular place in New York, so it’s pretty exciting to see my face there. And it’s pretty amazing that this happened in my first two weeks into 2019, that I’m already meeting my goals.

FIERCE: This is exciting, and for anyone else maybe a little far-fetched, but you have really proven you have what it takes to not just make the unlikely happen but supercede it a million times. Just last year, you were a contestant on a Chilean singing contest called Rojo and now, legit months later, you are considered one of the most anticipated artists in urbano. What is this like for you? Does it feel fast?

Paloma Mami: Obviously, it feels like it’s happening so fast, but I think I’m handling it pretty well, pretty calmly. I feel like it’s happening fast but also that it’s meant to be. I hadn’t attempted a career in music before, and I feel like it’s happening this quickly because it’s been waiting for me. I’m really happy about how everything is happening.

FIERCE: You mentioned not previously pursuing a career in music. When did this change? When did you realize that singing and performing is something you wanted to do seriously?

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Paloma Mami: Actually, this is a funny story. It was at a Bad Bunny concert in Chile last March. I always wanted to do music. It always called my attention and was a dream that I had, but I never pursued it, tried or really dared to until I went to that Bad Bunny concert. I saw the whole crowd go crazy. I saw people of all ages, little kids to grandfathers. Everyone was there, and I just loved that feeling, that whole vibe in that arena. It was amazing, and that’s what inspired me. Right after that concert, I went home and said, “Yo, mom, I’m going to try out this music thing. Let’s see how it goes.” And then from there, history.

FIERCE: Shout-out to Bad Bunny, haha. From there, though, you tried out for Rojo, made it and then left mid-show because you were not comfortable signing a contract, which restricted you from making your own music, that was required of you. You’re 19 and you were just 18 at the time. Was this a difficult decision for you to make?

Paloma Mami: No, it really wasn’t. Obviously, people thought it would have been because it was such a good opportunity, but I really did believe in myself and I knew that if I was not going to be on the show that there was going to be something else waiting for me. So it wasn’t really hard.

FIERCE: When I read that you walked away from this opportunity, especially at your age, I was astonished and immediately felt a great respect for you outside your music. You are an example of a young woman who knows her skill, worth and vision, and chose to protect that even if it meant stepping away from an opportunity that could have furthered your career. How do you think you are able to trust and believe in your magic?

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Paloma Mami: I just believe in myself. People just know when something is coming or you know things are going to be good for you either way, no matter what happens. Really, I just trusted in my talent. And I felt like, I’m a female and there’s not really many girls that do the same type of music I do. Not just girls, there’s just not anyone like me, you feel me? I just trusted in that, in knowing that I’m kind of different.

FIERCE: Clearly, it’s been working out for you. Soon after leaving the show, you dropped the video for “Not Steady,” a banger that I’ve had on repeat for months. And I wasn’t alone. The song caught the attention of Sony Music Latin, which signed you in October. How has your life changed since then?

Paloma Mami: It’s changed drastically in the last couple months. I feel being signed has helped promote the song a lot more. Literally, when I first dropped “No Te Enamores,” the day after I went outside, and there were people singing it to me. I thought, whoa! How crazy! How drastic this change is. Before, some people recognized me, but now it’s like all eyes are on me, especially here in Chile. It’s such a big move to be signed with Sony Music Latin because there’s no chilena that is signed with them, and it was like huge news here in Chile. It’s like making history.

FIERCE: You are the first Chilean act of your generation to be signed to an international label. What does that feel like for you, as a chilena, as an artist?

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Paloma Mami: It’s awesome. I feel like it’s going to help a lot with having Chilean music progress and evolve a lot more. Here in Chile, the music is still unknown. There’s not many artists that are known that are chileno, so I feel like it’s so cool that I’m the one who is breaking the ice, at least for urban music.

FIERCE: The first song you dropped since joining Sony Music Latin was “No Te Enamores,” produced by Mambo Kingz & DJ Luian, another really dope track that already has more than 11 million YouTube views. In both this song and “Not Steady,” you really stress your independence, particularly your preference in being single and doing your own thing on your own terms rather than being in a relationship. I feel like more and more younger women are sharing the same sentiments. Just last week, Ariana Grande wrote on Twitter that she wouldn’t be dating this year. What do you think of this musical shift, where female singers are increasingly writing about enjoying their own solitude over being in relationships?

Paloma Mami: I think it’s a whole movement that’s happening right now. I feel it’s something I always felt and many other girls felt the same way. What has sold in the R&B and urban music field is singing about falling in love and girls being with their boyfriends or falling out of love and being sad and heartbroken. And that sold really well in the music industry, but now this whole movement that’s happening is right on time. It corresponds with the feminist movement and girl power. I feel it’s awesome to hear girls sing about how we don’t want a man, don’t want a relationship, that they don’t want anything to do with it. I think it’s really cool, and that’s what I love to sing about. I think it’s what flows more with me because it comes from the heart.

FIERCE: Personally speaking, what do you think we as women gain by prioritizing relationships with ourselves versus romantic relationships with others, particularly men?

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Paloma Mami: Just knowing yourself more, knowing your worth. I feel like every girl has gone through that path where they don’t know their value or who they are. You don’t really get to know that until you are alone. That’s when you build a relationship with yourself and know your worth.

FIERCE: Your music meshes reggaeton and trap ritmos with R&B and your lyrics oscillate effortlessly between Spanish and English. I know you were born in Manhattan to Chilean parents and later moved back to their home country. What type of music did you grow up on and how do you think it influenced your style today?

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Paloma Mami: I grew up listening to R&B mostly, like really just R&B. Soul music and what my parents were listening to. I didn’t listen to a lot of Spanish music when I was younger. Half of my life, I was listening to English music, and now, in the second half of my life, I feel like I’m only listening to Spanish music. I think that gives me this perfect mix. But listening to R&B has gotten into my craft, especially how I write, because I feel like there’s not much popular Spanish R&B. My first song “Not Steady” is R&B in Spanish with some urbano.

FIERCE: With the success of “Not Steady” and “No Te Enamores,” we are all excited to hear what you have coming up. Can you tell us what you’re working on?

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Paloma Mami: Expect a whole bunch of new music. I feel like a lot of what I do is really different from the last thing. I don’t think you will expect what comes. From dancehall to reggaeton, you’re never going to know with me. So expect that: something different always. I’ll also be releasing more solo singles. We haven’t really focused much on collaborations, but I think once I get more of my stuff out, we will get into the fun collab stuff.

FIERCE: You’re 19 years old, at the start of your career. In a few years, what do you hope the people can say about Paloma Mami?

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Paloma Mami: I hope in a few years a lot of people can say that I’m a fierce woman, also recognizing that I’m Latina for sure and have New York roots. I don’t know, that I’m cool. I never really thought about this. Just that I’m an independent girl who is fierce and strong and humble. I hope people can say that about me five years from now.

Check out “No Te Enamores,” Paloma Mami’s latest single, below:

Read: Up Next: Meet The Dominicana Ready To Be The Global Matriarch Of Spanish Hip-Hop

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Up Next: Meet Katalina, The Colombian Funny Girl-Turned-Pop Singer You Need To Know

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Up Next: Meet Katalina, The Colombian Funny Girl-Turned-Pop Singer You Need To Know

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

Katalina is used to the spotlight. For years, the colombiana has cultivated an audience of millions on Instagram with her hilarious short videos about relationships and womanhood. But now, the social media influencer-turned-singer is using her mic to explore these themes.

Debuting her first song, “Sacude,” a carefree pop-urban dance jam, last November, the Miami-living entertainer followed up this month with the heartbreaking ballad “Adios” featuring Cuban-American singer JenCarlos Canela, showing her musical versatility.

“With me, there will definitely be both. This is something I think I have been very clear about,” Katalina, 27, told FIERCE. “I feel that music is more free now and you do not have to limit yourself to only one genre. I like challenges and I dislike routine, so you can always expect a mix.”

We chatted with the rising star about her lifelong love of singing, transitioning from social media influencer to music artist, saying goodbye to loved ones and what to expect from the beauty in the months that follow.

FIERCE: Most people who are familiar with Katalina know you as a social media influencer with hilarious videos, but last year you took the leap into music. Why?

Katalina: I have always liked to sing. I come from a very musical and talented family, but we always practiced it as a hobby. A year ago, I gave myself the opportunity to develop it professionally with my manager, Kito Sunshine, and I am totally grateful and in love with this. Music is what I love the most — it frees me.

FIERCE: Was this shift from social media influencer to singer strategic? Did you know you always wanted to sing and saw social media as an avenue to build your popularity and get you there or was this an unexpected but welcomed outcome?

Katalina: Since I was a little girl, I have known that I liked to sing and play the piano. From 9 to 11 years old, I sang in the choir of a church when I lived in Colombia, and for me it was something magical, so I’ve always known it. As far as social media, I entered by accident, but from the first day, I enjoyed the opportunity to reach so many people and show them my musical side as well. It was not a strategy. I did not upload many videos singing, but people motivated me more and more to try to develop music professionally, so I gave myself the opportunity, and, well, here we are.

FIERCE: But you’re not just a pretty girl with a following who is trying to use her fame to dabble in something she has no business doing. You are talented! Still, several social media influencers have attempted to break into music, some like Cardi B and Jenn Morel finding success, but others not so much, oftentimes not because they lack talent but rather because they’re not taken as seriously. What has this transition been like for you?

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Katalina: It is a bit difficult for people to see social influencers in another facet that they are not used to, but, in my case, I always showed them that musical side, so it was not totally a surprise. The same people asked me and the reception was very special. I hope to reach many people with my music.

FIERCE: As you stated, you have been passionate about singing and playing the piano since you were a child. What sort of music did you grow up listening to and how do you think it’s influenced your Latin pop sound today?

Katalina: I grew up listening to a lot of pop and ballads. My mom always listened to this music, so she did influence me a lot. I remember locking myself in my room and practicing these songs all the time. I still do this.

FIERCE: Colombian music is having a major global moment right now. What do you think you bring to the game that’s different and helps you stand out among the rest?

Katalina: Together with my work team we are creating our own seal. Our sounds are different and the vocal arrangements are unique to what we want to project. We are focused on the urban wave but keeping my romantic side.

FIERCE: I can see that for sure! You recently released “Adios,” a ballad featuring Cuban-American artist Jencarlos Canela about saying goodbye to an ex-love with the hope of returning to each other again in the end. This is very relatable because a lot of times during breakups there’s this hope that time away will bring you two back together. Sometimes it’s because the couple really is good for each other, but other times it’s just a matter of costumbre. How do you, Katalina, decipher between the two?

Katalina: Saying goodbye is always going to be difficult, either out of love or habit. I think that if you are with someone just out of habit and not because you love him, it is better to say goodbye definitely. “Adios,” to me, has another meaning. Beyond the circumstances for which you have had to say goodbye to your ex-partner, it is the goodbye that makes your heart hurt. It’s the memories of the shared moments that make you miss a person and want to have them again, that’s “Adios.”.

FIERCE: In the music video, the song took on new meaning. It wasn’t just about an ex but about losing someone you love to death and never being able to be with them again. Why did you all want to dedicate this song and video to those who lost their partners?

Katalina: These are very common situations in all of our lives. The message also has to do with those who have lost a loved one, not just their partner. In my case, I recently lost my grandmother suddenly, who was a mother to me, and, for this reason, I, and many others, can identify with this video.

FIERCE: I’m so sorry to hear that! And I think you’re right. The video really extends to loss outside of romantic relationships. We are in an era of collaborations, especially for Latin music, and in this song, your and Jencarlos’ voices blend very beautifully. Tell me, who are some of your other dream collaborations?

Katalina: I’ve always believed you find strength in unity, so working in a team, to me, is a very wise decision. I have a long list, but I’d want to start with artists like Natti Natasha, Karol G, Becky G, Ivy Queen, Cardi B — these are strong women and great examples of what it means to be an empowering woman. Also, J Balvin, Daddy Yankee and others. They are artists with careers worthy of admiration.

FIERCE: I know you’ve been working on a lot of music for this year. What can you tell us is in store for Katalina in 2019?

Katalina: There are incredible songs written by international composers. I will also have my debut as a songwriter in a song that I think people will really identify with.

FIERCE: Can we expect more ballads like “Adios” or more dance songs like “Sacude” or a mix of genres?

Katalina: With me, there will definitely be both. This is something I think I have been very clear about. I feel that music is more free now and you do not have to limit yourself to only one genre. I like challenges and I dislike routine, so you can always expect a mix.

FIERCE: You are so young, at the start of your career, what do you hope people can say about Katalina in 10 to 15 years?

Katalina: My dream is to become an icon in music worldwide. I would love for people to say that I inspired them to fulfill their dreams, that I helped empower other women, that my life has been a great example of triumph. In 10 to 15 years, with the help of God, I will leave my mark throughout the planet.

Watch Katalina’s latest single, “Adios,” below:

Read: Up Next: Meet Victoria La Mala, The Mexican Badass Empowering Women With Urban-Banda Jams

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Up Next: Meet Victoria La Mala, The Mexican Badass Empowering Women With Urban-Banda Jams

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Up Next: Meet Victoria La Mala, The Mexican Badass Empowering Women With Urban-Banda Jams

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

You know what Paquita la del Barrio is to your grandmother or perhaps what Jenni Rivera was to your tía? Well, that’s what Victoria La Mala is for our generation: a singer whose inner power is the only thing more forceful than the strong vocal pipes she uses to remind you that you are that bitch.

Born Victoria Ortiz in Mexico City, the singer-songwriter jumped into the music scene in 2015, bringing a refreshing sound and style to regional Mexican music with all the same girl power of her barrier-breaking female predecessors. Describing herself as the musical offspring of Tupac and Selena, the now Los Angeles-based singer places her soulful vox over traditional banda and ranchera rhythms to deliver treats for your ears and soul. Her songs, like last year’s chart-making “Merezco Mucho Más,” call out male fuckery and empower girls to know their strength, worth and beauty and leave toxic romances behind.

On the block, Victoria, who’s also the first Mexican artist to be signed to Roc Nation Latin, continues to be inspirational. On Monday, the 30-year-old launched her fifth annual #TeamMalaPromGiveaway, a campaign providing low-income teenage girls in Los Angeles with dresses, accessories and makeup and hair tutorials. This year, she will help 50 girls, who must submit their applications before March 29, become the prom princesses she knows they already are.

We chatted with Victoria all about the giveaway, making banda bops for millennials, her anticipated new, and sonically different, music, as well as why she wants to empower women and girls in everything she does, among so much more.

FIERCE: You were born and raised in Mexico but also spent much of your time growing up taking extended trips with relatives in Los Angeles. What genres of music were you listening to here and there, and how do you think this has influenced your pop-urbano-banda style today?

Victoria La Mala: I used to listen to a lot of regional Mexican music in Mexico because of my parents. They love banda and mariachi. I spent a lot of summers in LA, and I had some aunts who listened to hip-hop, ‘90s R&B, and I loved soul. I think all of those styles of music influenced me, and I think you can hear them in me.

FIERCE: Absolutely. While you sing mostly regional Mexican genres, you have a very soulful voice. Talking about your voice, it’s very strong and powerful. No one can deny your vocal talent. When did you realize you could sing and that music was something you wanted to pursue?

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Victoria La Mala: I literally cannot remember a time in my life without singing. When I look back on my childhood, I was that one little girl always singing. I loved music. I sang in class and school. But when I was 15, I started getting a little more confidence in myself. I’d be out at parties and people would say, “sing for us.” That’s when I realized this is something I love and have a big passion for. I started singing in a couple bands. I sang at family functions and school functions. So I think when I was around 15 is the time I was like, I love this and I think this is what I want to do.

FIERCE: Why banda? This isn’t exactly a genre that’s expected from young millennial women?

Victoria La Mala: For me, it was always important to represent my culture and tell my story as a woman. Some of the first memories I had listening to live music was banda. My first album in 2013 was full banda. It was just important for me to represent. My dad had passed away a few years before then, and he loved banda. When I moved to the States from Mexico, I wanted to represent from the beginning, and from there I started evolving as an artist as well. I tried different regional sounds and more fusions, because it’s all a part of my story and who I am. I was exposed to more types of music. Being a girl raised in Mexico City, I listened to everything in the streets, Spanish rock, cumbia, so I think it’s important to represent my culture and my story.

FIERCE: I love that and definitely see that. While artists like Paquita la del Barrio and Jenni Rivera made waves for women in traditional Mexican music, these genres continue to be male-dominated. Honestly, most Latin genres do. How has your experience been trying to navigate this industry as a woman, and as one who is very vocal about her opinions on men and proud of her identity.

Victoria La Mala: You know, they always say, “Victoria hates men.” But I don’t, just a couple that have been bad, but some are great. But it’s definitely difficult being a woman, not just in music, in a world that has been male-dominated. The roles of women have slowly been changing: women started working, started going to school and now they’re doing basically anything that we want. But because it hasn’t been many years to do these things, it’s still a struggle. And in music, it’s reflected. Music, I think, reflects what’s happening in society. Now girls are starting to take power in music. Girls want to listen to other girls. They want to feel identified and want our stories told. It’s definitely still difficult. It’s definitely still a struggle, especially on the industry side. There’s this idea that girls dont like girls, girls don’t like to listen to girls. This is also an idea that has been changing, though. I grew up listening to women I love, playing my CDs and singing along to them. I think women nowadays are the same: we want to hear our stories.

FIERCE: I think you’re right. Not only are many of the rising acts in Latin music women, but they are sharing their stories through their music.

Victoria La Mala: Right, exactly. Thank you.

FIERCE: Making a space for yourself where others might be uncomfortable, though, isn’t something you seem to ever shy away from. Another example: you’re the first Mexican artist signed to Roc Nation. How has this been for you?


Victoria La Mala: It has been an amazing experience. I’ve been able to learn so much from people in the industry who have been doing this for years. I’ve met legends, people I looked up to as a little girl, people I still look up to.

FIERCE: Like who?

Victoria La Mala: Like Beyoncé and Rihanna. I got to sing with Paquita la del Barrio. Olga Tañón invited me to sing with her at Premio Lo Nuestro. It’s been an incredible couple of years, learning and growing so much. It’s been really amazing for me. This is part of what I always wanted to do: represent my culture and what I come from as Latinos and Mexicans in a more general-market kind of way. People never really listen to Mexican music, so for them to say, “let me see this Mexican artist signed to Roc Nation,” that’s an amazing experience. As you mentioned before, part of me always feels like I have to fight for what I want. I grew up seeing that. I grew up around strong women that will make a way.

FIERCE: And that’s clear in your music. As I stated earlier, your songs are very bold and empowering. They often validate women’s experiences in relationships and remind them of their own strength, beauty and power. Why?

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Victoria La Mala: It’s so important for me because I think music literally is the soundtrack to our lives. We have songs we play when we are feeling so sad and want to cry. We have songs we want to play that cause us to feel strong, like you could do whatever you want to do.  I grew up listening to strong women that made me feel powerful, and it’s important for me to give that back to other girls. Sometimes, I play my own songs when I’m going through it, like, “yes, girl!”

FIERCE: Haha! I love that. I can honestly say that “Si Va A Doler Que Duela” was one of the songs that helped get me through my last breakup, so I completely get it.

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Victoria La Mala: Thank you. I really appreciate that.

FIERCE: You’re also inspiring outside of your music, though. I know you have a prom dress giveaway each year, where you provide dresses, makeup and accessories to underserved teens so they can attend prom and feel like a princess for an evening. Talk to me about this. Why do this?


Victoria La Mala: To me, this is one of my favorite times of the year. I love being able to connect with young girls. When I was in high school, my dad wasn’t there anymore, and my mom, by herself, had to make sacrifices for my siblings and myself. For my high school graduation, I had to figure out dresses, which was so expensive, and I thought, maybe I should come up with a giveaway for girls doing their prom and can’t afford it. There are so many circumstances as to why they might need help. I started this five years ago. I had people, whoever I knew, give me dresses. I said, “anyone who wants to donate, I will give you a CD.” That’s all I had. People donated dresses, and I think we dressed 10 girls that year. I did it all on my own. I had no clue what I was doing, but it was an amazing experience to see girls have the dress they wanted. I knew I needed to do it again. Here we are now in our fifth year. Last year, we  dressed more than 60 girls. This year, I’m hoping that doubles. Now we also have sponsors.

FIERCE: What do you think is your overall goal with this giveaway?

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Victoria La Mala: My goal is for girls to enjoy their prom. I want them to feel like all their efforts were worth this moment, that all their hard work does pay off. I just want them to be happy that day. I’m also really hoping every year we can double the amount of dresses we give. I also hope that we can take it out of LA. This is my home and community, so this is where I’ve been doing it, but I hope to take it to other cities and one day everywhere.

FIERCE: Love that! I want to get back into music. You haven’t released a new song in a little while, and there’s a lot of anticipation around Victoria La Mala and demand for new music. What do you have in store for this year that you can tell us about?

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Victoria La Mala: Well, last year, I put out only two songs. One did amazing and was on the charts, “Merezco Mucho Más,” and the other I put out during the end of the summer, “Corazón valiente,” which was for immigrants. But after that, I had a couple changes within my team. I took time for me to get in the studio, work on music, write my stuff, get involved in everything, from production and sound to writing new songs. We are almost there. It’s just been a process. I’ve just been waiting and writing and making sure everything sounds and is how I creatively see it. Again, we’re almost there. I think it’s going to be something new and different from what I put out in the past and reflects who I am, a mix of Mexican culture and me living in New York, LA, Mexico City, more of the urban side. So it’ll be something new and something I’ve been wanting to work on for a while, so I’m excited.

FIERCE: You’re 30 years old, at the earlier stages of your career, what do you hope people can say about Victoria La Mala in 10 to 15 years?

I hope people can say that I’ve helped them feel empowered, that my music has been a big part of their life. I dont think a lot about this. I think about things I want to accomplish more than things people say about me. I hope my music can empower them and be a part of their life and touch them the way other artists have inspired me.

Read: Up Next: Rombai Is Ushering In The Return Of Latin Pop Bands

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