Welcome to Spotlight, where we do a deep dive into the careers of artists, producers, songwriters, and more people making an impact in the Latin music industry.

Yendry is a rising star in Latin music born in the DR and raised in Italy, whose art is definitely impacted by both cultures and therefore the reason why her music sounds so different and can’t be put in a box. In our exclusive interview with Yendry for Latido Music by mitú, the “Barrio” singer talked to us about her musical influences, performing for the first time at the Latin AMAs, and more.

Watch the full interview here:

Growing up between Dominican Republic and Italy

Yendry was born in the Dominican Republic, and lived there until she was 4 years old. Her mother went to Italy to work while her grandma and tías raised her, an immigrant story that’s very common for many moms in our community. Once Yendry turned 4, she was able to move to Italy and there they started their live together in the European country.

Yendry’s song “Nena” talks from her mother’s point of view, where her mom sings to her and prays that angels always protect her nena, her baby girl back home.

Living between both cultures, it was hard for Yendry at the beginning of her life to find her identity. “I think you don’t really know yourself when you’re a teenager. [I would think] Am I Italian because I’ve lived here my whole life? Or am I Dominican because I have that [Dominican] approach to life?”, Yendry shared. “Italian society was hard to fit in, that’s why I think I forced myself to speak Italian perfectly, I wanted to be accepted”.

Even though Yendry would visit the DR to see family, it wasn’t up until 5 years ago that Yendry went back to Santo Domingo on a self-discovery trip. “I wanted to discover my island, my people, the place I was born. Now I feel like I’ve [finally] found my place.”

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Finding her roots in the DR as a recording artist

Yendry went back to the DR to work in the studio, and it was her first experience connecting with both the press and fans in her home country as an artist. Even though she felt a bit star-struck when people recognized her on the street, it reinforced her beliefs that her music approach of going back home was right.

While she was in town, she shared a documentary on her YouTube channel that talks more about her upbringing featuring her mamá, abuela and the people in the Dominican Republic fully embracing one of their own.

Describing her own sound

While her music tastes might be eclectic and ranging from different genres, Yendry still picks up on some elements from her music and likes to experiment with different sounds, she likes to “not have limits in the studio”, and you can tell that from her work. Her sound can’t be put in a box, and Yendry wants to keep pushing the envelope with the elements of her music. For her upcoming projects, she wants to do more songs in both English and Spanish.

Musical influences from Etta James to Juan Luis Guerra, Kendrick Lamar, Radiohead and everything in between

Imagine you set your music library on shuffle and you go through a variety of music genres, that’s what Yendry would describe her music influences as. Her taste is varied ranging from the classics like Otis Redding and Ella Fitzgerald, to FKA Twigs, Rosalía, and Juanes, Yendry is very curious and open to learning about different genres of music.

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Yendry’s love for Frank Ocean speaks volumes

While doing my research before our interview, I read an interview where Yendry mentioned she dreamed about doing a collab with Frank Ocean. As a massive Frank Ocean fan myself, I had to ask her about this and it was great to share a moment with Yendry where we talked in depth about Frank’s music and how he has influenced her sound as well. Yendry goes way back a a Frank Ocean fan, before his debut album Channel Orange was released in 2012, and “Pink and White” has been her alarm for a very long time.

Yendry is fully aware that Frank Ocean doesn’t have that many concerts, and calls him a “diamond” that you need to seek out and see perform live at least once.

Dream collaborations with SZA, Nathy Peluso and more

Yendry’s musical taste is so varied, it’s no surprise that she wants to collaborate with people from different genres including James Blake, HER, and SZA. From the Latin space, it’s Nathy Peluso.

“Nathy Peluso is one of my dream collabs right now”, Yendry shared. “I would love to work with her. The beauty about music is that when you meet an artist, and you go to the studio with them, you never know what’s going to come out. That’s what I love most about doing music.”

Performing for the first time in the US at the Latin AMAs

A star was born that day. “It was my first red carpet, the anxiety about falling”, Yendry shared about her very first televised US performance at this year’s Latin American Music Awards.

For her performance, Yendry wanted people to focus on her and her voice, and it was her creative decision not to have any backup dancers or choreography. “I wanted [the performance] to be natural and raw, because it was my first one, I wanted people to see me as I am first. I think we nailed it”, she laughed.

Future plans include the release of an EP this year

Yendry is aware that in order for new fans to know the versatility of her sound, the best way to do so is by putting out an EP that shows her full range, which she hopes to release later this year. As of last week, she released her latest single “YA”, and is working with Damian Marley in the studio, which she says has been an incredible experience.

However, more than anything, she wants to perform live again. “I hope we’re going back to having concerts. I really miss the energy from the people and the feeling of being on stage”.

Thanks to Yendry for the interview and we can’t wait to see what’s next in her career.