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Alejandra Guzman On Her 30+ Year Career, Live Album At The Roxy And Writing Hits | Up Close And Personal

Alejandra Guzman

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Alejandra Guzman On Her 30+ Year Career, Live Album At The Roxy And Writing Hits | Up Close And Personal

The Mexican rock icon talks empowering women, working with Sebastian Krys and Desmond Child, career highlights and more...

GRAMMYs/Nov 8, 2019 - 06:50 am

Alejandra Guzman, one of Mexico's greatest living rock voices, continues her more than 30-year musical career with her latest release, Alejandra Guzman: Live At The Roxy, in which she pays homage to Spanish rock classics from Maná to Gustavo Cerati in Los Angeles, one of the unofficial Laitn captials of the country. 

The "Mirala Miralo" singer and showstopping performer, who was exposed to  music thanks to her father, Enrique Guzman, a rock and roll trailblazer in Mexico and an actor, chose the Roxy on the West Hollywood Sunset strip for its rock history. "The Roxy has a lot of stories," she tells the Recording Academy.

The energetic Latin GRAMMY winner and GRAMMY nominee, known for her distinct voice, her rebellious allure, and unconventional fashion, has penned many of her own stories and has become one of the most iconic songwriters in Latin America, says she likes to write about what feels real to her, including her most challenging experiences. 

"I take the lessons of life and make them songs," she said. "I know it's a hit because I always cry."

Guzman got Up Close And Personal with the Recording Academy about why she chose Los Angeles to record her latest album, songwriting during some of the greatest and most challenging moments in her life, including her breast cancer diagnosis, empowering other women in the music industry, her rock influences and more. 

Your latest album, you recorded live at the Roxy. Why record your album in Los Angeles?
The Roxy has a lot of stories and I think that it's very intimate to play in. It was crazy because I had just had surgery and [producer] Sebastian Krys, called me [to ask,] "Do you want to do this? It's all rock and roll. We can pick whatever you like and we can do an album and a DVD and everything." It sounded so good that I just jumped from the bed and came. We rehearsed like one week, it was crazy. But I knew these songs before, so it was really crazy to leave Alejandra Guzmán on a side and be me, the one that started listening to music and was always in the mosh pit. I was always crazy, but I was 14 when this music was all over. So I love this album because I know some of the artists, I know Maná, I knew Charly García and I love him, Miguel Ríos, I saw [Gustavo] Cerati once, but I never meet him like a person. So I admire them and I think it's a good moment. I need rock and roll in my life.
 

You've been in this industry for more than 30 years. Tell me about when you've felt like a fan. 
I [was lucky] to open a concert for the Rolling Stones and I sang with James Brown once in a Hard Rock, and [also with] Rita Coolidge [and] Huey Lewis. I have had several moments in music with very special people. I used to [listen to] Eurythmics, Police, that kind of music ... Cyndi Lauper in the '80s. I think that those [artists you listen to when you're younger] stay in you as an influence. My father is also a rock and roll pioneer, he did "Hound Dog" in Spanish. So I always liked to play being the rockstar in front of the mirror and it became true. I mean, it was a dream. A dream come true. And I still get nervous before I go on stage. I like to do my makeup, I like to make my outfits sometimes ... it's part of what I have always wanted

You mention your dad, Enrique Guzman, a famous singer in Latin America. Was your first musical memory with him? 
Yeah, it was with him. Because I went to the theater and I learned the whole choreography, the songs, and they did a lot of musicals. Then I started doing theater with my mom, and all my sisters are actresses so I decided not to be another actress because I [would forget the script] and [would get] really nervous.
 
When you look back 30 years, what is one moment or something that you are most proud of?
That I did it. That I showed my mom and my dad that I was myself and that I didn't copy anybody. I'm a performer, not just a singer. And that's what I like. Every concert that I do, I like to sweat a lot because I give myself, all my soul to [the audience,] So I am proud of that. I'm proud of who I've [become], like a character, like I can [do anything.] You know, sometimes it's hard. Sometimes it's not easy because of social media, it's changing everything. Also the industry has been changing. When I started it was ... vinyl, and then the CD, and then now there's no CDs anymore. So it's crazy.
 
You are an iconic songwriter. You have some of the most iconic songs in Mexico. When you're writing, how do you know when you're done with a song?
Well, I've always written with [other] people because I don't know how to play instruments, but I'm good at lyrics. So I like to listen to the melody or make some melody in my mind and talk about it with [who I'm working with.] For example, with Mario Domm, Camila, we did a great song "Volverte a Amar." He started playing the piano and I started crying. And that's how I know it's a hit because I always cry. And there are some moments in my life not, not as happy, you know? So I take the lessons of life and make them songs. That's a love song, but it's [also about] faith. Like maybe I'm going to love you again. You're the worst, but I'll call you again. It's [about] love and hate and really, you know, it's amor apache, [a destructive kind of love.] But it makes me feel something and most of my songs are real. "Hacer El Amor Con Otro," is a real song that happened to me ... And there's another one that I wrote because I am a breast cancer survivor. So in that moment when I knew that I had cancer, I wrote "Hasta El Final," which talks about how life is like a paper and that I was really afraid of it in that moment. But [that] was just the beginning, not the last part of my life. And there's another one that [I wrote when] I was pregnant and [called] "Yo Te Esperaba." So I wrote a letter to my baby, like, "I want to see your eyes and I'm waiting for the ring of your tone. And this is the best part of my life. I'm happy." Because I stopped ... Well, I tried to stop the big famous ... Craziness about fame. And it was the biggest moment in my career, so I decided to have my baby and [wrote] a song [about it.]
 
Then I did two albums with Desmond Child. Desmond Child, for me, is Desmond Child. You know, I love KISS and I love Aerosmith, and so I came and I said, "I want the world, please give it to me." (laughs) And we won the first Latin GRAMMY. I'm really grateful for him and he's my friend and I love him because he always told me, "Don't be a cookie, go for it." But he's a great producer ... He liked my lyrics so he gave me the [Latin] Songwriter Hall of Fame Award that I'm proud of having. And I did the [another called] "Suerte," and it talks about the love of the fans. I love them, but I love [they] love me back. And it's amazing when I sing it because everybody starts with the lights on their phone and it becomes a sky, you know? And I still rock. I have two hip replacements and I still go and dance and jump. My doctor hates me because of that, but I don't care.
 
 
What keeps you going?
Music. My passion for dancing. I'm happy when I dance, I think is better than a therapeutic thing. For me it's therapeutic because it helps me. And [when] I dance and I'm free, I can do anything. I can eat anything. I'm thin. I work with my brain, with two parts of my brain, and it's artistic. So I keep on doing it.
 
I saw a little bit of your Roxy performance and I noticed that you feature a lot of women musicians. Is that on purpose?
Of course. We need woman power. We need to embrace ourselves and I think this is the moment. And Sebastian Krys, that is a producer, also Juan de Dios, that is the guy that helped us to put it together, and I think it's amazing because it's like a band. I didn't feel like Alejandra Guzmán, like always that I'm just in the front. But [on] stage ... Whomever wants to have fun with me, I'm happy because that's for them. You know, I want everybody to have fun with me.
 
But you think it's important for women to give other women opportunities in the business?
Yes. Also from [Mexico's] The Voice, I picked the girl. She didn't win, but I gave her the opportunity to [sing] with me. It's crazy, but I would like somebody to [have done] that for me if possible. So I do it because I can. I like to help young people and the opportunities are less now. There's a lot of computers and things, but I think we need more artists, real artists, [well-rounded artists.] Because I've always seen in musicals that they know how to act and sing and dance. So for me, a good performer, can do all of them together.

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Tyga Talks Inspiration Behind "Go Loko" & Collaborating With L.A. Rappers Like YG

Tyga 

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Tyga Talks Inspiration Behind "Go Loko" & Collaborating With L.A. Rappers Like YG

"Growing up in L.A., it's a really big culture here, Mexican culture," the rapper said. "So we really wanted to do something to give back to the culture."

GRAMMYs/Jun 8, 2019 - 04:16 am

Tyga's latest collab has him paying tribute to Los Angeles' large Mexican community. The rapper is featured on fellow L.A. rapper YG's  leading single, "Go Loko" off his latest album 4REAL 4REAL and when asked about his take on the song, he says much of it was inspired by Mexico's cultural impact. 

"Growing up in L.A., it's a really big culture here," he said. "Even YG could tell you, he grew up around all Mexicans, so we really wanted to do something to give back to the culture."

The video features visuals and symbolisms inpired by the Mexican community, including mariachi, but also by the Puerto Rican community (you'll easily spot the boricua flag). The song also features Puerto Rican rapper Jon Z. Tyga mentioned the diversity of Latinos on the different coasts and wanted to make a song that also celebrates the different Latin cultures in the country. "We wanted to do something different to kinda try to bring all Latins together," he said. 

Watch the video above to hear more about the song and the vibe when he joins forces with other L.A. rapppers. 

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Quarantine Diaries: ARI Is Cuddling With Her Cat, Making Her Own Tea & Preparing For Her Debut 'IDIOT GRL' EP Release

ARI

Photo: Nicole Davis

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Quarantine Diaries: ARI Is Cuddling With Her Cat, Making Her Own Tea & Preparing For Her Debut 'IDIOT GRL' EP Release

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors

GRAMMYs/Aug 12, 2020 - 02:59 am

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, rising singer/songwriter ARI shares her quarantine diary. ARI's debut IDIOT GRL EP is out Aug. 14.

[9:40 a.m.] A late start to the day. I just woke up to my cat Malakai licking my face and snuggling under my chin, desperate for cuddles. I reluctantly gave in before diving into my morning routine, which starts by going through all of the daily news on my Snapchat feed to see what’s going on in the world.

[11 a.m.] Just out of the shower and into the kitchen for the usual: tea and avocado toast. I don’t typically like tea or coffee, but I had this amazing tea from Starbucks once and fell in love with it. I ended up finding the recipe and making it myself, and to be honest, I like my version better. Once I boil the kettle, I start part two of my morning “meditation”: watching one of my favourite shows while I respond to emails. With the IDIOT GRL EP coming out next week, I can tell you there are a TON of emails. I turned on "Gilmore Girls" (my guilty pleasure) and opened up my laptop to go through my calendar.

[1:45 p.m.] Recording session time. Zoom calls have become my everyday life. It’s crazy to think that this time last year, you could actually be in a room with people. Now the most social interaction I get is virtually. On the positive side, I get to set up my little home studio from the comfort of my own bed and I find the sessions to be really productive with no outside distractions.

[3:30 p.m.] Malakai is meowing at my door. As I try to sing over him, eventually I can’t ignore his cute little voice. We take a quick break and I have a little playtime with him. I can hear my song playing in the living room—it still weirds me out hearing myself. My guess is my roommate aka my manager is sending off final approval for the “IDIOT GRL” music video, which comes out the same day as the EP. Super excited for everyone to finally see it!

[6:00 p.m.] Time for dinner. It may just be my favourite part of the day. During my session, my roommate cooked us some delicious pasta. We eat dinner together every night, which is really nice. Usually, after dinner, we wind down and watch TV, but we decided to try doing an arts and crafts project tonight. I watched this TikTok video of a DIY way to make music plaques. You take a screenshot of a song on Spotify and use a marker to trace out the name of the song, artist, play button, etc. Once that’s done, you simply add the album artwork of your choice, frame it, and voila! I thought it would be a cool idea to make a wall of each of the songs off of my EP.

[9:00 p.m.] After an eventful day, I decided to go watch a drive-in Maple Leafs game (wearing a mask, of course). My sister works for the TSN network and started hosting drive-in game nights to promote the network and social distancing events. I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest hockey fan, but I’ll never pass up an opportunity to spend time with my family.

[11:30 p.m.] I finally get home and hop straight into bed. I feel like I haven’t spent much time on Instagram today, so figured I’d open it up before getting some shuteye. I launched the pre-save link for the EP today and told my followers that I would DM anyone who pre-saved it and sent me a screenshot. I always love getting to interact with my fans and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to see how excited people are for my debut EP. It’s a great feeling to end the day with.

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EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Mexican Institute Of Sound Takes Gaby Moreno Into New Musical Territory With Mystifying "Yemayá"

Gaby Moreno 

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EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Mexican Institute Of Sound Takes Gaby Moreno Into New Musical Territory With Mystifying "Yemayá"

Listen to the synth-infused track blending pop and Latin sounds that's named after the Afro-Carribean goddess who represents fertility, water and self-love

GRAMMYs/Jun 25, 2020 - 08:56 pm

Anything Mexican Institute Of Sound (MIS), a.k.a Camilo Lara, touches turns into musical gold. The Mexican producer and artist proves that with celebrated GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Gaby Moreno in "Yemayá."

Moreno, whose soothing voice we have heard magically adapt to a range of genres including Americana, Latin folk and R&B, continues exploring her creative range this time with GRAMMY-nominated Lara in the synth-infused, mystifying track blending pop and Latin sounds. The catchy song about the overpowering feeling of love is named after the Afro-Carribean goddess who represents fertility, water and self-love.

Moreno told the Recording Academy she and Lara wanted to capture the deity's essence in their collaboration:

"She's a powerful woman of color taking all forms. It's a universal theme and we wanted to incorporate this mysterious and mystic figure into the song, since it's part of the folklore of many different cultures." 

The song, which Lara brought to Moreno and was written in one day in 2019 at Red Bull Studios, takes Moreno into new territory. 

"I’ve been a big admirer of [Lara's] work and esthetic and the way he blends Latin folk music with electronic and hip hop. I come from a fairly different musical background, having very rarely experimented with synths and those kinds of sounds, so this was a really fun and different collaboration for me," she said. "I got to step out of my comfort zone and bring forth something a bit unusual but very much enjoyable, nonetheless."

The Guatemalan singer/songwriter will also soon be releasing "Fire Inside," a song she wrote with Andrew Bissell. The song has already been featured on ABC’s "Station 19", TLC’s promo "I Am Jazz," UK’s "Free Rein," NBC’s "American Ninja Warrior" and recently on YouTube’s "Dear Class of 2020."

Moreno is also working on an upcoming album she will produce herself and is also producing other artists. 

Listen to "Yemayá" in full above. 

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5 Texas Artists Who Rocked Austin City Limits 2019

Alesia Lani at ACL 2019

Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images

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5 Texas Artists Who Rocked Austin City Limits 2019

From Kacey Musgraves to Gary Clark Jr., a sonically and racially diverse array of artists put their best notes forward at ACL 2019

GRAMMYs/Oct 14, 2019 - 03:14 am

There’s no place like home, and, over the last two weekends, several Texan artists represented their hometowns at Austin City Limits Festival 2019.

Reflective of the state itself, a sonically and racially diverse array of artists put their best notes forward, even if the weather, which began in the upper 40s on Friday and warmed to a high of 79 on Sunday, was a little moody. With the exception of Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion, who missed her allotted set time, each artist proved to be a standout act in one of the country's greatest music hubs. Some would say it was all “a big dream,” as R&B artist Alesia Lani describes it. 

Here are a few names, both familiar and on the rise, who rocked the stages at Zilker Park.

PNTHN
 

Hometown: All over Texas

Following in the prevalent trend of doing away with vowels, this eight-man rap collective’s name is pronounced “pantheon.” Earlier this year they told Complex they’re “a group of gods coming together.” Amongst them is a graphic designer, a photographer and several producers. This year at ACL gives the Texas-based group a chance to let the audience decide for themselves. 

Kacey Musgraves
 

Hometown: Golden

"The sky is finally open, the rain and wind start blowin'… You hold tight to your umbrella, darlin’ I’m just tryna tell ya/That there’s always been a rainbow hanging over your head." Is that a Kacey Musgraves song, or a description of this crisp year at ACL? Let’s say both. The country-pop singer's show, lacking in neither hand clapping nor yee-haws, was one of the festival’s most awaited acts. The 2019 Album Of The Year GRAMMY winner dazzled and serenaded the audience in her golden-hour slot.

Alesia Lani
 

Photo: Daniel Mendoza The Recording Academy

Hometown: Austin

This year marked Alesia Lani’s first time performing at ACL. The Missouori-born R&B loyal who grew up in Austin, Texas took a moment to chat with the Recording Academy, telling us of the city's artistic nature, “With Austin, there's so much room for opportunity... There's so much room to grab your goals and get out there and talk to people." Beloved by locals, the soul singer hopes being in Austin will shed light on the authentic work she’s doing. In 2015, she, along with GRAMMY winner Gary Clark Jr., earned a spot of The Austin Chronicle’s list of top 10s. Her upcoming work, she shares, will differ from her prior two albums. As she sings on "Along the Way,” from 2017’s Resilient, she’s figuring it out as she goes.  

Dayglow
 

Photo: Kahlil Levy

Hometown: Aledo

19-year-old Dayglow (Sloan Struble) is so good at making dreamy bedroom pop he’s reportedly decided to take a bet on it, leaving college in Austin behind to pursue a more long-term musical career in Nashville, Tenn. This will perhaps be the first time the Texan ops to live outside the state, and this year will forever live on as his first festival performance. The entirety of his debut self-produced and the self-released album was recorded in the bedroom he grew up in. 

Gary Clark Jr.
 

Hometown: Austin

Gary Clark Jr., signed to Warner Bros Records, is ahead of his time. In 2014, he won a GRAMMY for Best Traditional R&B Performance and was nominated for Best Rock Song. At 35, he’s shared the stage with the likes of Beyoncé and the Rolling Stones. His latest LP, This Land, is already a conversation-starter, with fans taking the liberty to nominate him for awards that won’t have a list of potential claimants for months to come. In the meantime, Clark tells KVUE his only plans on the horizon at the moment are to "ride off into the sunset with my family and go hide out for a second." Needless to say, those who got to see his nine-song set over these last two weekends were in for a treat.

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