meta-scriptLove Thundercat? Check Out These 5 Contemporary Bassists Keeping The Flame | GRAMMY.com
5 Artists Elevating Bass
(L-R) Sam Wilkes, Mononeon, Blu DeTiger, Anna Butterss, Adi Oasis

Photos (L-R): courtesy of the artist, courtesy of the artist, Rick Kern/Getty Images, Zach Caddy, Clément Dezelus

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Love Thundercat? Check Out These 5 Contemporary Bassists Keeping The Flame

Two-time GRAMMY winner Thundercat has helped redefine the bass in the popular conversation — but he's just the tip of the iceberg. Here are five other bassists maintaining the groove.

GRAMMYs/Jun 21, 2023 - 05:21 pm

A common metaphor for the bass is an "anchor," the instrument that establishes the groove in tandem with the drums. Together, they create a solid foundation for the lead instrument, or instruments, to shine.

But if you call Ron Carter, the most-recorded jazz bassist alive, an "anchor," he'll have a few choice words for you.

"You ever see an anchor? It's down at the bottom, rusty," the three-time GRAMMY winner once said. "No one knows it's there; no one gives a s— that it's there, holding the boat back. Anchor of the band? That means the band's not going anywhere.

"That's not what I do, man," Carter continued. "My job is to knock your socks off."

These days, the music community is full of contemporary bassists who knock your socks off, in all genres. Which has less to do with tearing apart the rulebook than bringing their instrument to the center of the music discourse — an instrument in the front seat, not the back.

Take the colorful and virtuosic Thundercat; his bass acumen made him a star, and even blasted him into the Star Wars universe. (Flea followed suit, in a passing of the bass torch in a galaxy far, far away. Consider fellow GRAMMY winner Linda May Han Oh, a dazzling composer on both electric and upright bass; "jazz" barely contains her artistry.

From there, the list goes on and on: Esperanza Spalding, Mali Obomsawin, Charles Berthoud, Endea Owens, Alex Claffy, Sam Wilkes, Logan Kane, and so many others. Sungazer bassist Adam Neely's music-focused YouTube channel commands 1.7 million subscribers; the bassist-YouTuber Davie504, a whopping 13 million.

Clearly, the bass is alive and well in the popular conversation — and to address all the worthy practitioners who've popped up in the last decade and change would require a thick book. 

So here's a sampler platter: five radiant bassists bringing their instrument to the forefront, who hail from a range of backgrounds and scenes.

Blu DeTiger

Watch the video for Blu DeTiger's four-on-the-floor single "Elevator," and chances are you've never seen anything like it: a pop song, and video, with the bass prominently featured.

Yet the TikTok bass phenom is unconcerned with showing off and committed to the pocket. Same in "Hot Crush Lover," which further demonstrates her fluidity and suppleness on four strings.

"I remember thinking 'So many girls play guitar and sing,'" DeTiger told Spin in 2022. "I was like, 'I want to be different. I want to do something unique.' And I've never looked back."

Bass covers of pop songs by Beyoncé, Prince, Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Nas X, and others put DeTiger on the map. Since then, she's evolved into a full-fledged indie pop star, signed to Capitol Records, even performing on "Saturday Night Live" with Bleachers.

"I'm grateful and lucky that I was kind of on TikTok and stuff early on and was finding my way then." DeTiger told Reverb. "Because I feel like if I was trying to do what I was doing then now, I don't know if it would've cut through the same."

But perforate the mainstream DeTiger has — and with it, the bass gets a great deal more shine.

Sam Wilkes

L.A. bassist, composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Sam Wilkes is pure versatility; his sound straddles jazz fusion and ambient psychedelia without tipping over into "chill study beats."

"Jazz is just a language within another broader language. I'm a curious person and music offers up endless possibilities for me," Wilkes told The Fader. "I guess I can't escape jazz. It's what hits people first and they hear what they hear."

Jazz or no jazz, Wilkes' omnivorous muse has led to regular collaborations with saxophonist Sam Gendel and singer/songwriter Louis Cole, as well as stints in the eclectic groups Knower — who's opened for Red Hot Chili Peppers — and funk cover band Scary Pockets. 

Reared on jammers like Phish and the Dead, Wilkes was bitten by the improvisation bug early on. Although he played electric bass rather than upright, he figured USC would accept him into their jazz program anyway; despite his prodigious talent, said stumbling block barred him from the school.

But when that door closed, another opened; he entered the world of R&B and became an in-demand session cat. The career that ensued wasn't "anti-jazz," exactly; it encompasses a multitude of musical spheres, commensurately owed to brainy analysis and vibey grooves.

Adi Oasis

Adi Oasis isn't just a masterful bassist; she's a completely 360° artist — playing, singing, composing, and producing with equal facility. As such, she's not just here to jam; on her latest album, 2023's Lotus Glow, she tackles difficult subjects of identity and belonging.

"Thematically my new album is fearless, yet vulnerable, and also more political," the French-Caribbean artist wrote in a statement. "Because I'm a Black female immigrant, and these are my truths."

Oasis' pursuance of truths have paved the way for a dynamic career; she's collaborated or shared stages with leading lights like Anderson .Paak, Natalie Prass, Lee Fields, Big Freeda, and Chromeo.

Her approach to her instrument is finding a subliminal core — and a seam of infectious energy. "For me, bass is about finding a good groove that people may not even notice — a good groove that I want to keep playing forever," she told Bass Player in 2021.

Clearly, Oasis continues to accomplish this mission with every gig, every record, every collaboration.

"My entire life, every single show has felt like a victory — and I've played a lot of shows," Oasis has said of holding down the low end onstage. "The feeling that I get when I perform… that's it. That's what I've dreamt about, that's the high that I'm chasing.

"So I've made it a long time ago," the multi-hyphenate continued. "The rest is just a matter of getting more and more people in the room to share it with."

MonoNeon

When two-time GRAMMY-winning bass great Marcus Miller calls a bassist a "young bad cat" — and Prince has worked with them — any lover of four strings should investigate immediately.

MonoNeon, born Dywane Thomas, Jr., is a mighty bassist who blends soul, funk, jazz, and hip-hop, often on his eye-catching YouTube channel, where he commands 179,000 subscribers.

Thomas' father, Dywane Sr., is a bassist in his own right; Thomas curiously learned the instrument upside down from the age of four. "My dad played the right way," he explained to Thrasher in 2021. "I don't know why I flipped it over."

Victor Wooten of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones fame was a formative influence. "Seeing Victor Wooten thump the way he does really made me practice on my slapping and thumping more," MonoNeon continued. "It was difficult trying to thump upside down — I'm still working on it."

In the same interview, he shouts out Joe Cleveland, as well as Curtis Mayfield's bassist Joseph "Lucky" Scott and Muscle Shoals bass legend David Hood.

The sky was the limit for MonoNeon; he was actually one of the Purple One's final collaborators. 

"It was super cool. It wasn't what I thought it would be. Like, it was really weird and s—, but it was also laid back," Thomas added. "I still think about those Paisley Park shows that I played with Prince. I miss that shit so much, mane!"

But Prince will be remembered forever — and the more MonoNeon continues his ascendancy, chances are he will too.

Anna Butterss

What do singer/songwriters like Bright Eyes, Phoebe Bridgers and Aimee Mann have to do wit jazz musicians like Makaya McCraven, Larry Goldings and Walter Smith III? At the top of the list is Anna Butterss.

The Aussie bassist and composer's art isn't simply contained in these accompanying roles, though; her 2022 debut, Activities, contains the full spectrum of her art in microcosm.

"I was trying to subvert expectations while still keeping the music engaging, almost hooky," Butterss told Interlocutor that year. "I'm a sucker for a singable melody, but I want it to be a little off-kilter in some way, to feel surprising."

"And I wanted to express a lot of complicated and conflicting emotions, feelings that are difficult to put into words," she continued. Butterss then cited something that reveals her jazz bona fides: Thelonious Monk's concept of "ugly beauty."

No matter which context Butterss finds herself in, imagination is paramount; she can stretch her personal style any which way. So can all five of these bassists, as they've proved time and time again — every time they bring a background instrument to the forefront, to brilliant results.

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Blu DeTiger 

Photo: "Cotton Candy Lemonade" Music Video Still

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Blu DeTiger's "Cotton Candy Lemonade" Turned COVID-19 Emotions Into A Dreamy Song Full Of Endless Hope

The singer/songwriter and bassist tells GRAMMY.com more about the single, what her forthcoming project will sound like, how she feels connected to Shawn Mendes and more

GRAMMYs/Oct 27, 2020 - 04:00 am

Blu DeTiger, like many of us, has felt the weight of the pandemic. The singer/songwriter and bassist turned her feelings into her latest single, "Cotton Candy Lemonade," a dreamy song about wanting to be anywhere else with that special someone. 

"I've been on my own/ Come find me now/ I'm lonely to the bone/ But I don't feel so low/ When you're around," she sings before opening up a sea of endless possibilities. "I wanna get lost with you/ Picture waking up somewhere new/ I wanna get lost with you."

The song is "classic quarantine, COVID emotions and just longing for a different time," she tells GRAMMY.com in a recent interview.

The song's video only magnifies the dreamy vibe with hazy scenes and candy-colored New York landscapes as she rides off on the back of a motorcycle. 

Despite the heavy feelings, Blu wanted the song to be hopeful, a feeling that comes through the song's beat and her smooth groovy-inspired bass line. 

"It is coming from a hopeful place. It's not a sad bop," she adds.

Blu, who went viral onTik Tok unexpectedly in the spring and has found herself giving people a soundtrack to create on the platform during these times, caught up with GRAMMY.com to talk more about her latest single, what her life looks like now, what we can expect on her next project, how she uses DJing to solidify her sound, how she feels connected to Shawn Mendes and more. 

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How are you spending your time these days? What does your day to day look like now?

Oh, man. I mean, I feel like it's changed over time during this whole thing now that things are a little bit more open in New York, but yeah, my day-to-day, I wake up, have my coffee, whatever. Go through my—I'm doing very basic day to day right now—I'm going very detailed ... check my stuff, emails and texts and things and then I usually, nowadays, I do a walk around my neighborhood just to get back in the zone of going outside and then I'll work on music basically the rest of the day until the late hours of the night. 

Have you noticed something that you didn't notice before about the city while on your walks?

Yeah, now it's weird because the energy here is really good right now. I know that sounds crazy. Everything is so horrible in the world, obviously but the energy here, I feel like it's like more of a community now and real, OG New Yorkers are here and it's been feeling good and I'll Citi Bike. I like to bike around now these days near the water while it's still nice out. But yeah, people are out and about, just relaxing, enjoying themselves. 

Your latest single is called "Cotton Candy Lemonade." I know you wrote it under quarantine. What's the story behind the song?

I've been working with some friends, these two producers, Eugene and Stelios and this other writer, Jessie. Eugene and Stelios had these starting chords and sent them to me and then we got on Zoom and I added the bass and we wrote the song over it pretty much and it came together really quickly. It was interesting that it was over Zoom, I think it was one of my first Zoom sessions. So, I think that was weird, but now I'm more used to that. So, it was over Zoom and it came together really quickly. I think it was just a lot of what I was feeling at that time. The classic quarantine, COVID emotions and just longing for a different time, like pre-COVID or post-COVID. 

Did those first chords set the mood at all for the song?

Yeah, definitely. Those chords just inspired the feeling ... I added the bass and the drums and stuff and I think that the movement of the groove... It's still a driving song, it still drives from the base groove and stuff and I think that's also what's cool about this song because it is coming from a hopeful place. It's not a sad bop, I still think there are some positives in there about it.

You recently released the video directed by Sacred Pact. Were you and Sacred Pact still able to get your vision across through the video?

Yeah, totally. It was different because obviously, it was a very tight set. It was only like four people or five people on set and we all tested and all of the COVID precautions we did before but yeah, it was weird that it was small, but I liked it and it was an all-female set as well, which was special and just good energy. But I think we were able to do well with the limitations. The Sacred Pact girls are so cool, they shot and edited and directed. They took on a bunch of different hats, we all had to. So, that was fun, it was real teamwork and it felt really good. I had so much fun shooting that day. Just riding on a motorcycle in the city is the best feeling ever. 

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When it comes to your music-making process, is there a time you feel most creative?

Yeah, definitely at night between the hours of like midnight and four. It sounds crazy but it's really hard for me to get out of this schedule. I feel like a lot of people actually got into that sleep schedule where people are staying up later and then waking up later ... When quarantine first started and I've gotten into that cycle and I still hadn't broken it but I've just found that I'm way more creative at night when the sun goes down and it's those 12 to 4 a.m. hours, so that's been fun. I'm still doing that. That's when I really sit down to write music and record stuff at home. I found out that's been my process but then when I think about it, I'm also like, "That makes sense," because I'm used to djing. Before COVID, I was djing a lot and those hours would always be 12 to four, those are the nightclub hours or like 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. That's when I would be working anyways in normal times. So, I think I'm just used to that schedule anyways.

Does being a DJ influence your music-making at all?

Totally. I'm so grateful that I have a background in DJing because, first of all, it makes you have a wide, vast knowledge of music throughout the decades. You need to know the hits through every decade, especially if you're djing. I've DJed weddings and bar mitzvahs and all that stuff and you need to know your stuff. You need to know the hits and I've also done other things where... I've just done every genre, so I think it made me just have to know a lot of music and listen to a lot of music and, of course, that's always going to be an influence. To make music, you got to hear other music but also, just the experience of playing to a crowd and being able to control the crowd and seeing what makes people dance and what makes people move and what makes people leave the dance floor and what gets a reaction out of people, different moments in songs and picking up on that and being aware of that has also been really helpful.

I want to pick your DJ brain for a little bit because I know that we've had to adjust a lot to the fact that live music is still not something we're able to experience. Do you feel like these live streams... Is that good for now or do you feel like you just can't wait until you can be in a room with people?

I don't know, I have mixed feelings because I know this is the only other thing that's possible right now, so I don't want to bash it but it's definitely not the same at all, for me at least. It's been tough just to capture that live experience, there's just nothing like it. I definitely think it's the best next thing that's possible but yeah, I don't know. I'm hoping that shows come back soon so you can get that feeling again. Even just like perform... I mean, I did these performance videos from home that I've been uploading on YouTube with each song. Obviously, it wasn't the same but I definitely think it was so therapeutic for me to put those together and just rehearse, like put myself back in a rehearsal mode and back into thinking about the songs in a live performance setting, which is so good for me and I feel like I had those endorphins go off again and I was missing that, craving that feeling. So, I was able to tap into it a little bit, making these videos from home but yeah, I mean, I don't know. I miss sweaty bodies in a room so bad.

Can you be a DJ and also make your own music at the same time? Or is it something that you're like, "I'm going to make music for this amount of time and I'm not going to DJ, I'm just going to focus on making music"?

I definitely think they go hand-in-hand and you can do both for sure. I also think the best feeling is like when I first started to complete my songs for my project, I would test them out in DJ settings and I would mix them into my DJ sets and that's the best feeling ever. Just hearing your song in comparison to other songs and seeing people dance to it but even if they don't even know what they're listening to, but they just know that they like it. Just seeing a genuine live reaction from a crowd in a DJ setting is really special and cool. When I first started finishing my songs and testing them out in the clubs, that was really fun. You could definitely do both and they go hand-in-hand. I mean, it's all music so I think anything music-related. I used to be like, "Oh my God, I do all these different things and how do they come together?" And I feel like they just always come together ... music is fluid and flows and it's all in the same category, in the same mother, you know?

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You've been releasing singles since late 2019, can we expect an album soon?

Yeah, not an album but an EP, for sure, is on the way and then album soon after that but yeah, I'm really excited for this. I haven't released a full body of work yet, so I'm super excited to do that and just have that snapshot of a bunch of songs. So, that's coming next year, so I'm really excited about that.

 I noticed that the singles you released in late 2019 were very dance-pop and we started to hear a little bit of a change in "Tangerine" and then "Figure It Out" and "Cotton Candy Lemonade" lose the dance feel a little bit, can we expect these sounds to make up your EP?

Yeah. I mean, I think the EP definitely has some more dance elements in there. I feel like I started with that because that was the world that I was coming from with the DJ background. I had that influence and I feel like just the music I've been making now, I feel like it's probably the same for a lot of artists these days, during quarantine, but no one's going out and really dancing, I guess, so it's been harder to sit down and make dance music because no one's out there dancing. My thought process I think is just like, "I'll just sit down and make more mellower, groovier tracks," but I'm always going to have that influence in my music because that's just what I like and what I grew up on and also like the funk stuff and disco, that genre is what I really fell in love with when I started playing bass and stuff like that. So, that's definitely in the vibe of the EP, for sure.

What are some of the other sounds that inspired you to make music when you were younger?

Definitely the late '70s, early '80s funk is my sweet spot of music I love, so that's definitely in there and the production style is just... all of the sounds are just so amazing. So, definitely, a sense of that is in there. I mean, I don't know. I listened to everything, I know that sounds like cliché everyone's like I listen to everything, but I do really try to take in everything and I feel like stuff just comes out here and there in my music, whether it's a subconscious decision or I'm actually sitting down and being like, "I'm going to try to replicate this cool thing that I heard in this song." 

What is one genre or artist that you think people would be surprised you like?

Good question. I honestly, I feel like I've talked about this before in an interview but I honestly love Shawn Mendes. He's a major artist, so maybe it's not surprising but I think the new song is so good and I'm pumped for his documentary he just was talking about because I remember I first followed him on Vine when he had not that many followers, so I feel a certain connection but I mean, I don't know. I guess that's a good answer for that question. 

Going back to your project, how do you feel like you're growing working on it?

Oh, damn. I think in the biggest way is, in the past songs I've released, I haven't done as much production work on it, except for "Cotton Candy Lemonade." I co-produced that one, but for the songs before, I wasn't as, I guess, hands-on, on the computer with the production and with these new songs that are coming out, I'm the main producer on the song and really getting into that producer hat zone. So, I think that's probably the biggest way that I'm growing, is I'm really getting into doing more of the production on my own and really just flushing out my ideas from start to finish. Just me or just me and my brother, I've been working with my brother a lot in quarantine. That's the biggest way I'm growing is in my production skills, for sure. 

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Is that something that you've always wanted to do, produce?

Yeah, for sure. I learned Ableton at an early age and I would always experiment, but I never sat down to write songs within and I slowly started to. I went to NYU for music and going there I learned some more skills because they have a bunch of production classes and things like that. So, I was slowly getting better but I wasn't as confident in myself and I never called myself a producer. I feel like now I can call myself a producer but before, I would always be scared to be like, "I produce too," because I just wasn't as confident, so I definitely had to put in the hours and practice before I could really take that on.

People ask themselves, "Is it worth going to school?" In your opinion, what do you think? Is learning in the classroom worth it? Or have you learned the most being an artist and producer?

It's so hard because I feel like everyone's different and everyone has a different style. I mean, I'm definitely so grateful that I got to go to NYU. I left a few years in because I had touring opportunities, but I definitely learned a lot while I was there and it was really good for me just to meet other people and be in the room with the other kids was really important. Classmates inspire you and you inspire classmates and that all rubs off on each other and being in the room with the professors, just having that network is really important but, I can only speak from personal experience. From my experience, it was important for me to leave when I did. And I definitely learned... there are some things you can't learn in the classroom and you got to really just go out and experience because someone telling you how to tour is different than you actually touring, you know? I think just getting life experience is really important. So, I would say a mix, but it really depends on what you want to do and if you want to be an artist or producer, engineer or music business, I think it all really depends on the person in the situation but for me, I'm really grateful I had the mix of both, like the best of both worlds.

When it comes to your forthcoming project, is there something you want to accomplish for yourself?

I think just to feel good about... I don't know. I mean, I do feel really good about it already but I think just to get it out there and for people to hear it. Just to release it. I think every time I release music, I'm just so happy after I put something out. It just feels like another part of you is being shown or expressed. 

This album will have a little bit more of you in the production sense

Yeah, totally. I think you'll definitely get a better taste of me and some different sides of me and qualities and it's a good sum up of just where I'm at right now or where I was when I wrote it and yeah, I'm pumped to just keep growing, keep experimenting and going on and writing more stuff forever. It's been a good journey and process for sure.

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Danna Paola
Danna Paola

Photo: Rafael Arroyo

interview

How Danna Paola Created 'CHILDSTAR' By Deconstructing Herself

"'CHILDSTAR' is the first album in my entire career where every inch, detail, and decision are curated and made by me," Danna Paola tells GRAMMY.com. "I made an album for myself and that little Danna who has always wanted to do this."

GRAMMYs/Apr 12, 2024 - 12:00 am

Danna Paola feels comfortable coexisting with her shadows. 

The Mexican singer, model and actress first appeared on television at age five, and has spent recent years dwelling on memories of her youth. Now 28, Danna is dismantling the myths and taboos around her artistic persona.

This process resulted in CHILDSTAR, which arrives April 11. Danna's seventh LP is her most authentic production and one where she makes peace with her childhood.

Accomplishing this freedom took her two years of therapy, the singer confesses to GRAMMY.com. "I deconstructed myself and my beliefs and unlearned many things to learn new ones. The pandemic also opened Pandora's box. That's where everything came out."

Through that self-discovery process, Danna knew she had to break with a constant that had accompanied her for two decades: acting. The last character she portrayed was Lucrecia in the Netflix series "Elite," a popular role that led her to reignite her music career after an eight-year hiatus. Beginning to live authentically, without the vices that fictional characters can leave behind, was the crucial step that led the Latin GRAMMY-nominated singer to CHILDSTAR.

CHILDSTAR follows a lengthy depression and a break from her management team, which Danna has described as controlling. On the new album, she embraces indulgence — singing about female pleasure for the first time in her career — and draws inspiration from her after-hour encounters. CHILDSTAR's darkly powerful electronic rhythms and synth-pop, tell a tale about a weekend of partying, alcohol, and sex to create the perfect escape from "your demons, your life, and your reality." 

Ahead of her album release, Danna Paola discussed the processes that led her to break with her past, how her boyfriend was instrumental to her return to the studio, the synthesizer that inspired the album's sound, and the gift that Omar Apollo left for her. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tell me about the process that led you to co-produce for the first time.

This album is made with a lot of love, many hours, but above all, a lot of freedom. It's a very energetic and aggressive album, liberating.

It was a journey of introspection, empowerment, and self-confidence. Beyond being a sad story, the complete meaning of the album is not to talk and throw shade at my childhood. [It's about what] I have discovered since that first therapy session to find and make peace with my past, and that instead of being a place of embarrassment for me, it empowered me.

CHILDSTAR is the first album in my entire career where every inch, detail, and decision are curated and made by me. That's something that I am very proud of. I made an album for myself and that little Danna who has always wanted to do this. 

It is energetic, super intense, and sexual. Electronic music, funk, dance, synth-pop, and R&B lead me to drain all these emotions. The choice of each song, and the details and creating them from start to finish, [has] been very cathartic.

In "The Fall," you sing, "You don't know me, you don't know s–– about me. I'm not a shooting star." Was it painful to relive the memories of being a child star?

Yes. I grew up in 2000s television. Back then, creating a child's image came from a lot of machismo: being the perfect girl, the girl who doesn't speak badly, the girl who smiles for everything, and whose characters are all good. She can't do bed scenes, can't talk about sex. 

With this project, I embrace that [version of] Danna. I told that girl that everything would be fine. It's OK if you make mistakes, and it is OK to fall in love. Falling in love terrified me because I've been on different projects… every six or eight months; the longest a project lasted for me was a year. I made relationships with people and friends, [but] people always left my life. I built a pretty lonely life; I almost did not spend time with my family. I poured my life into work.

I had this distortion of reality where Danna Paola was the superheroine, and I forgot who Danna was. That's why I stopped acting; creating characters and being in someone else's skin was moving me further and further away from discovering myself as a human being in the ordinary course of life, of creating myself based on situations, emotions, and relationships. 

In therapy, of course, I understood that. I made peace, and today, I am discovering many beautiful things about myself as a child that were precious, happy, and full of love. Of course, I don't blame my parents because they did their best. Nobody teaches you how to be a child star from age five.

The album led you to shine a light on your darkest sides. What did you discover about yourself and Danna as a person and artist?

I was terrified to take risks, to speak, or to create. [To me] creating a project takes a long time, at least with music. I discovered that, for me, [making music] is a spiritual act. It is an everyday practice. It is to continue to discover and continue to learn. It's falling in love again with my profession and giving the industry another chance.

I also learned that our capacity for reinvention is infinite so we can start over. Today, I also begin to be a little more human. However, I don't aspire to be an example for anyone. I want to share my experiences and the lessons I have learned so I can move forward, continue to love what I do, and not lose myself. I used to say that I wouldn't make it to 27. That was in my head.

I'm making a wonderful balance between my personal life and my work. I'm also building my family at home with my boyfriend [artist Alex Hoyer], my two little dogs, my friends, and my chosen family. It's making peace and creating the life of my dreams.

Do you like who you are now?

I love it. I continue to polish many things about my personality. I work hard to be a better human being. Life is about learning and transforming yourself. I can release another album in a couple of years; I may release another this year. I don’t want to stop making music. [I want to] continue transforming myself through my art. 

In the first two tracks, "The Fall" and "Blackout," you repeat that people don't know you. How would you describe the Danna of this record? 

She's a woman who is very sure of who she is, and nobody has given anything to me. I'm in love with my project, my music, and my life, and I'm enjoying it a lot.

I struggle a lot with fame, but today, I present myself as a liberated woman in a good headspace. I don't pretend to be perfect or an example for anyone. Quite the opposite; all I do is share experiences, lessons, and music.

I'm an artist in every sense of the word. I'm a creative, honest person and have a lot of love to give, and I love receiving it, too. That should be mutual. It's an energetic practice that when one really does things with love, the universe always rewards it.

In songs like "Atari" and "Platonik," you openly sing about female sexual pleasure. Is it the first time in your career that you sing about your sexuality? 

Yes. This album is very sexual. There's a taboo when it comes to women talking about sex. In reggaeton, there are thousands of ways in which we can talk about sexuality. In my case, I had always considered it forbidden. 

It's what I told you about the kid [actress] who doesn't [about sex], who's a virgin until marriage. There is no richer pleasure than sex and the sexual pleasure you can have as a woman. There's liberation, to feel good about yourself, with your body, and also the sexual education that I can also share with generations.

This liberation with my femininity is something that I also discovered: The pleasure of being a woman and having many experiences in my life that have led me today to enjoy who I am, to have a happy sex life, and to share it through my music.

In "Platonik," you discuss sexualizing a platonic relationship with a woman and sing "I can't help what I think in my bed." Why was exploring that relationship important to you?

I had a platonic love with a girl at a stage of my life. I kept this to myself; it was a personal experience that opened the conversation to a beautiful story.

I wrote this song with [producer and songwriter] Manu Lara. We made it in half an hour. This song has something unique because, besides talking about a personal experience that is also super sexual, it talks about universal love.

That's why I say that CHILDSTAR is an album of many stories that have marked my life and beyond, talking about only the childhood stage, which is what everyone speculates, but that's not the case.

You’re flirting more with synth-pop in this album. What caught your attention about this genre?

It comes from this aggressive part of saying, here I am. For me, electronic music connects and drains emotions. Every time I've been out partying, electronic music has been liberating for me, and when I put it together with pop and these lyrics, it has become a new way to enjoy the genre.

While creating CHILDSTAR in Los Angeles, I fell in love with a Jupiter [synth] we found at Guitar Center. That synthesizer is in every song. The inspiration [to use the instrument] comes from John Carpenter's synth album [Lost Themes III: Alive After Death]. In it, I discovered synthesizers had a way of incorporating sound design and darkness into the album. 

[Synth-pop is] the expression of that need to bring out the energy I had stuck through music. It’s an emotional purpose, the connection I have with electronic music.

Your boyfriend, Alex, was instrumental in making "XT4S1S" when you didn’t want to enter a recording studio. How was reconnecting with music with help from your romantic partner?

"XT4S1S" is the song that, to both of us, as a couple and as producers, connected us on a hefty level.

I was super blocked. It took me several years to get out of my depression hole. We returned one day from [La Marquesa park] here in Mexico, and started chatting. Alex opened his laptop and started pulling out a beat.

I started throwing melodies, and [shortly] we had the chorus. It brought me back to life. I started crying with excitement because I finally felt again these desires and this emotion that you feel when you create a song, and you can’t stop moving forward and keep creating.

I remember we recorded my vocals on a voice note and sent it to [the production software] Logic. Then, it took us four months to produce this song because it was a lot of discovery, in this case, for me as a producer.

Alex is a great musician, artist, a genius — and I don’t say that because he’s my boyfriend. Artistically, there’s a fascinating world inside his head that I have learned a lot from. 

The track "Amanecer," which features Omar Apollo, breaks dramatically with the story you tell in the album. Why did you end that party cycle with a more folksy, chill song?

"Amanecer" is a track that has us all in love. It was the last song I recorded for the album. 

I wrote it to my ex. On my birthday, he called me — I was already with Alex — and it was super weird. I always feared running into him on the street, seeing him with someone else, and feeling something. And it was the exact opposite. I had already healed internally, and that wound had stopped hurting. I stopped feeling all the emotions I had gone through in K.O., [the album nominated for Best Vocal Pop Album at the 2021 Latin GRAMMYs].

This song talks about knowing how to make peace and understanding how to let go. It’s the dawn of the album. It’s perfect to release all the drama, and all the intensity, and aggressiveness that is the entire album itself.

[The song invites you] to hug yourself and say everything will be fine. There is always an opportunity to start over. 

It also has a beautiful story. Manu [Lara] taught Omar Apollo the instrumental parts of the song, and he made some melodies. At the moment of receiving them, [Omar] agreed we would make a song together, [but] it was almost impossible to record together.

[Instead, Omar] told me "You can use the melodies I made" and left me the last part of "Amanecer." He left us with that magical essence.

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Dua Lipa
Dua Lipa performs at the 2024 GRAMMYs

Photo: John Shearer/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Dua Lipa's New Song "Illusion" Is Here: Listen & Watch The Video

Dua Lipa's 'Radical Optimism' era is in full swing — and now, we have a new song, "Illusion," with an aquatic-themed video. Check out the new banger, and its aqueous video, below.

GRAMMYs/Apr 11, 2024 - 10:00 pm

Now that we've absorbed "Houdini" and "Training Season," it's time for a third scoop of pop goodness from Dua Lipa.

On April 11, the three-time GRAMMY winner released "Illusion," the third single from her hotly anticipated new album, Radical Optimism, due out May 3. The percolating, endlessly catchy track arrived with a video where Lipa dances on a pool deck in Barcelona, with swimmers and surfers joining the party — a playful homage to the shark-infested waters of the album's cover.

Lipa first kicked off her Radical Optimism era in November with "Houdini," which she performed alongside the debut of "Training Season" in a head-spinning show opener at the 2024 GRAMMYs. The album follows her GRAMMY-winning second LP, 2020's Future Nostalgia.

"[Releasing the album] feels good. It feels, for lack of a better word, radically optimistic," Lipa told Billboard in March, when she also explained the inspiration for the shark fin cover art. "Throughout the whole record, there's this idea of chaos happening around and me trying to push through it in a way that feels authentic and honest to me."

Now, adding "Illusion" to the mix, Lipa has made it very clear the only way she knows how to cope with chaos is to dance — and Radical Optimism will continue the party that Future Nostalgia ignited. 

Check out the video for "Illusion" above, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more news about Dua Lipa and Radical Optimism!

Everything We Know About Dua Lipa's New Album Radical Optimism

Bodine Global Spin Hero
Bodine

Photo: Melissa Vera

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Global Spin: Bodine Traces The Slow Burn Of Heartache In This Haunting Performance Of "Bambi"

Dutch-born Puerto Rican singer Bodine offers a piano-only version of her 'Quemo Lento' track "Bambi," a song about "a pain so deep that it is inexplicable."

GRAMMYs/Apr 11, 2024 - 05:00 pm

On March 22, Bodine unveiled her latest EP, Quemo Lento. Translating to "I burn slow," the eight-song project displays the duality of pain and pleasure — but on the EP's only piano-driven track, "Bambi," it's all heartache.

"It's short, but it explains everything it has to explain in that minute," Bodine said of the song in an interview with Univision. "It describes the feeling of slow-burning, a pain so deep that it is inexplicable."

In the latest episode of Global Spin, the Amsterdam-born, San Juan-raised artist performs a stripped-down version of "Bambi." Mirroring the black-and-white imagery of the song's music video, the performance is even more haunting than the original with just a piano and her soprano vocals.

Quemo Lento has been touted for its dreamy visuals and experimental sound. As of press time, Bodine has released four music videos from the EP, most recently delivering the visual for "Nalgaje," featuring fellow Dutch rapper Zefanio.

Earlier this year, Bodine made her SXSW stage debut and performed a string of shows throughout Puerto Rico to celebrate the release of Quemo Lento.

Press play on the video above to watch Bodine's chilling performance of "Bambi," and remember to check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Global Spin.

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