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Up Next: Meet Angelica Vila, The New York Dominicana Behind The Ladies’ Jam Of The Spring

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

Sixteen years ago, Lumidee dropped the spring 2003 banger “Never Leave You,” rousing girls in blocks around the country to sing “uh, uh, uh-oh.” In 2019, as the sounds of ‘00s-inspired R&B make a resurgence, another New York Latina singer is behind this spring’s chant: Angelica Vila, who’s got us crooning we want “more and more and more.”

With over one million views on YouTube in less than one month, Vila’s “More in the Morning,” an infectious song that brags about her man’s sexual prowess, is already proving to be a hit. The Cool & Dre-produced track, which samples Shyne’s 2001 song “Bonnie & Shyne,” that itself a sample of Grace Jones’ 1977 cover of “La Vie en Rose,” can be heard across radios in the Northeast as it makes its way throughout the nation.

“Just be who you are. You shouldn’t be afraid to be comfortable in your own skin,” Vila, 20, says of the autonomy she displays in the sensually-choreographed video for “More in the Morning.”

The song is the Bronx dominicana’s first major release since signing a deal with Roc Nation, after being discovered by Fat Joe, in 2018 and is the introduction to an EP she hopes to release later this year.

We chatted with Vila about being a part of R&B’s comeback, how the Disney Channel series Hannah Montana both inspired and resembled her own childhood, lessons from her mentor Fat Joe and what to expect from the emerging Latina singer.

FIERCE: You started singing at a very young age and wrote your first song “Out the Rooftops” when you were as little as 7 years old. What was it about music that brought you in and convinced you, even as a child, that this is what you needed to be doing?

Angelica Vila: I don’t know. I was just singing since I was a very young girl. I usually just say 7 because that’s what I remember. My mom says I’ve been singing since I was a baby. It’s something I picked up, stood with me and grew a passion for. When I was 10, I started doing YouTube videos with my uncle. My uncle is my manager. He started managing me when I was doing the videos. Nothing was established then, but that’s how I sort of got into the business.

FIERCE: You grew up in a Dominican home in the Bronx. What sort of music were you listening to, which artists were you obsessed with, and how do you think these genres and vocalists influenced your own style today?

Angelica Vila: Growing up, my mother used to play a lot of Alicia Keys, a lot of Selena and Whitney Houston. My sister is 25, and I was also always listening to her playlists and loved her songs by artists who were more popular at the time. I also had my own favorites, like Hannah Montana. I was inspired by all of it.

FIERCE: Haha! I’m older than you and also loved Hannah Montana. But let’s talk about that because growing up, I know you resonated with this character because, as you were trying to maintain a normal childhood, you, like her, were also trying to realize your own musical dreams. This is really interesting to me (and would have probably made a dope show, too haha). What was it like being the Bronx’s own Latina Hannah Montana?

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It’s all in the eyes 😉

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Angelica Vila: It was easy for me. I didn’t really think about that stuff. I was just doing what came natural to me, organically, that was my goal. My first performance was at a St. Jude charity event. When I was singing, I felt connected with the crowd. They were singing along with me. The first song I sang was “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera. Kids at the event were touched by it. It was beautiful.

FIERCE: A few years later, your covers of artists like Adele, Jay Z, Justin Bieber and DJ Khaled caught the attention of Fat Joe, who signs you to his label in partnership with Roc Nation three months later. Tell me, what was this like for you?

Angelica Vila: I was just about to take a Skechers job when Pretty Lou posted my freestyle of “Wild Thoughts” on Instagram. Fat Joe sees it and tells Lou he wants to meet me. When we met, I played him three songs. His first advice to me was, you can never make the first impression twice. I was like, whoa, I feel the pressure now. A couple months later, I signed with him. I then flew out to Miami, started recording in the studio for two months and a half. I’m really grateful for all of it.

FIERCE: That’s amazing! I feel like Joe is someone who is filled with gems. What’s the most important lesson you think he’s taught you?

Angelica Vila: That one from the first day I met him, you can never make a first impression twice. Now I go into every situation trying to do my best. I don’t think anything is perfect, there’s always room for improvement and learning, but you can and should still give your best.

FIERCE: I want to switch gears to your current music. You recently released the song and video for “More In The Morning.” Congratulations! The lyrics, the vibe, the video, it’s all very sexy. I feel like there’s a musical movement, much like a larger cultural one, of female artists owning their sexuality, refusing to be the object in some man’s song and, instead, taking autonomy over their own bodies and desires. I love it! How do you think this could be empowering for other women in their own sexual lives?  

Angelica Vila: Just be who you are. You shouldn’t be afraid to be comfortable in your own skin. A lot of women are coming into the industry and we are starting to get that equality now. I think before there was a lot of men, but more women are speaking up, doing what they believe in and having a voice.

FIERCE: R&B is experiencing a sort of resurgence right now with artists like Kehlani and Ella Mai killing it in the charts in ways we haven’t seen for a minute. How do you think you stand out as the genre regains popularity?

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Boss B*tch got game huh? 🕶 glam @dvglam

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Angelica Vila: I think in a way that’s not so much in terms of the music. My personality is very bubbly, and maybe that shines through. But, musically, I’m really inspired by Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, so I think you might hear some of that.

FIERCE: I know you are currently working on your first project under Roc Nation. What can you tell us about this?

Angelica Vila: The project is done, but I don’t want to say too much about it. The concept I created for it is really creative. People will really connect with it when it’s out. There are six songs on the project. There’s no date yet, but we are working on it. I have a music video and another single dropping.

FIERCE: You are 20, at the start of your career. What do you want the people to say about Angelica Vila in 10 to 15 years from now?

Angelica Vila: She’s my role model. I want to be somebody’s role model and inspiration. The way I fangirl about Beyoncé is how I want people to fangirl over me.

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

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Up Next: Meet Kim Viera, The Nuyorican Powerhouse Singer Soaring Over Tropical Beats

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Up Next: Meet Kim Viera, The Nuyorican Powerhouse Singer Soaring Over Tropical Beats

Courtesy of Kim Viera

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

Kim Viera is a star — but don’t take it from us. That’s what Daddy Yankee told the rising Nuyorican vocalist when he worked with Viera on her debut single, “Como.”

The hit, a tropical treat about a paradisal romance that features the Big Boss, dropped last July, garnering more than 25 million views on YouTube. Since then, fans of the Bronx-born artist have been hungry for more. Lucky for them, Viera is holding on to enough musical goodies to feed their appetite all year long.

Most recently, the singer, who is signed to Republic Records, released “Here For Ya,” a playful jam that flips Ghost Town DJs’ classic “My Boo” beat into an anthem for every girl who was ever feelin’ someone who was already in a relationship.

“It’s not about pursuing anything. It’s not about taking another woman’s man. It’s more like how you are feeling in your head, what you’d want to do with that person if the situation was different,” Viera says of the banger.

We chatted with the rising act about her musical upbringing, her varied sound, her long journey to the spotlight, working with Daddy Yankee, new music and more.

FIERCE: You’ve described your sound as American Latina. What does that mean to you?

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rehearsal flow.

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Kim Viera: I was born in New York, in the Bronx, and I always had my heritage. It was strongly a part of my life. But I also grew up with American culture. That also influenced who I am as an artist. For me, basically, I always felt like I was somewhere in the middle of my culture and American culture. It’s American Latina. The first culture I knew aside from my own is American. I didn’t grow up speaking Spanish. I learned that as I got older. American Latina is a new generation of Latinas who experience culture different. It’s the third-generation types. I was born in the states, and my parents were also born in the states.

FIERCE: Who were your biggest musical influences, English and Spanish, and how do you think they’ve influenced this “American Latina” vibe you embrace?

Kim Viera: I definitely listened to everything. I love Selena, Marc Anthony, La India, J Lo as well as the large voices of Christina Aguilera and Mariah. They all had an influence on me as an artist. Growing up and seeing people who look and sound like you or have similar stories as you was encouraging for me as a little girl. That influenced me to feel like I was OK. They don’t speak the language either, but they love their culture like I do. I wanted to learn more. If they could do it, then I could, too. So it influenced me to push myself to do the same thing I saw artists I love do. I took some of the things they went through in their journey and applied it to my own and how I approach struggles. For instance, Marc Anthony didn’t speak Spanish, and he learned and became one of the best salseros of all time. Selena and J Lo didn’t either, and they’re Latin icons. Seeing them break through these cultural barriers was very helpful for me.

FIERCE: You grew up in a musical home. Your dad launched, owned and operated a live production company, and your mom sang backup for major Latin acts like Willie Colón and Rubén Blades. That’s really dope! When did you realize that you wanted to follow in your parents’ footsteps and pursue music professionally as well?

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I just wanna ride witchu 🏎❣️

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Kim Viera: I’ve always wanted to do music since I was little. I was always naturally an entertainer since a little girl. I decided I wanted to do it professionally or as a career when I was a teenager. At times, it seems like you have the talent but dreams still seem so far away because it takes so much to get to that place. Opportunities started popping up, and I was like, if I don’t take them now, I may not get them again. So I went for it. There were people who took me under their wing as an artist and songwriter, who helped teach me and help me grow. I started getting in the room with the right people. It’s been a whirlwind, but I realized early that I wanted to do music. I just didn’t know if it was attainable or not.

FIERCE: This is a difficult, brutal and in many ways insecure industry, which I’m sure your parents were aware of. Knowing this firsthand, were they concerned about your musical pursuits, hoping you’d do something more “stable” instead, as many Latinx parents do when their children profess interest in the arts, or did they fully embrace and support this decision?

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On the rocks, no chaser. #miami #ipromiseimworking

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Kim Viera: It was a split decision with my family, or my parents. They’ve done this before. They were always supportive of me and what I wanted, but they wanted the best for me and were scared for me, because there’s a lot of rejection, a lot of nos before yeses, a lot of hard work with no payoff. You really have to love what you do. They were always concerned about me finding a way to make a living and how I would be perceived. My dad was like “go for it,” and my mom, who was a singer, was more hesitant because she had a deeper understanding of what you’re up against as an artist and also saw how I reacted to rejection as a child. She saw me go through auditions as a kid and not understand why I was getting rejected. But I had to show her that’s how I reacted as a kid because I was a kid, and I’m older and smarter now.  

FIERCE: You started off songwriting, including for major acts like Lil Wayne, before landing your own deal with Republic Records three years ago. A lot of young aspiring artists think big breaks and fame come overnight, which is actually very rarely the case. Talk to me about hustle, about your grind in this industry that’s taking you from working in the background to becoming the star of your own show?

Kim Viera: It’s taken me so many years to get where I’m at: sleepless nights and a lot of sacrifices with friends and family. When you are young, you want to hang with friends but you can’t do that when you are trying to strive for a dream. I sacrificed a lot of my own money to invest in myself. I spent years writing very crappy songs to get to good ones. There were so many nos, so many doors closed. It was about eight years of that, constantly going and going, nights you don’t sleep because you’re editing videos you need to put out the following day for content. You are sleeping and breathing what you’re working toward till you get there. Then you get there and think you can relax more, but you actually have to work hard to keep it. It’s definitely not an overnight situation. People don’t know who you are or your story or situation. They just think this person came out of nowhere. Some people do pop off in a year. Every journey is different. But it’s very hard and you have to try to not get discouraged and just keep pushing through. If you don’t enjoy the journey, then you won’t enjoy the destination.

FIERCE: Last year, you get on everyone’s radar with your hit “Como” featuring Daddy Yankee. What was it like working with the boss, one of the originators of urbano music, so early in your own career?

Kim Viera: It’s really cool. Freaking amazing is what it was. We had the song. I wrote it like a year before, and he had heard it through a close friend of mine, who was one of his stylists. He was playing it for him at a shoot, and Yankee heard it and kept singing it over and over. He said he thought it was catchy. His stylist told him, “that’s my girl Kim.” The conversation started there. At that time, I didn’t have a record deal. He ended up hearing it again and asked my friend if I was signed yet. At that time I was. He was just like, “I want to jump on it.” This all happened organically, just because my friend was showing love. Next thing you know, I’m in Puerto Rico shooting a music video with Daddy Yankee.

FIERCE: Wow. That’s an amazing story! You have to love community. What was it like working with Daddy Yankee?

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Agradecida. 🙏🏼 #Como #kimviera #daddyyankee

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Kim Viera: Exactly. It was crazy. I can’t explain it. It was wow. The word to describe it would be surreal. I remember listening to his music growing up. Then I’m on set with him and he’s like, “Kim, you look like a star. You look beautiful.” My heart sank. Like, wow, my first record being signed with Republic and I’m in Puerto Rico shooting my first major video with a legend, Daddy Yankee, whose music I would dance to in my car as a kid with my friends. Now I’m standing next to him shooting a video. It goes to show your dreams really can happen and sometimes God has better plans for you than you have for yourself. It was one of the best days of my life, and I’m so grateful and humbled.

FIERCE: Most recently you dropped “Here For Ya.” Like “Como,” this is a fun, upbeat song about a lighthearted romance or affair. How do you want people, particularly women, who listen to these songs to feel?

Kim Viera: I mean, this song is about someone you are interested in that’s taken already. It’s not meant to be taken seriously. It’s a lighthearted thing. I think a lot of girls can relate to being attracted to someone and then being like, damn, they have a girl. That’s what it is, a feel-good, summer, retalateble record.

FIERCE: That is hella relatable. And it’s not like you’re going to pursue anything with this person, just highlighting that feeling of, “damn, why you ain’t single, dawg?”

Kim Viera: Right. It’s real shit. It’s not about pursuing anything. It’s not about taking another woman’s man. It’s more like how you are feeling in your head, what you’d want to do with that person if the situation was different.

FIERCE: Before “Here for Ya,” you released “Never Listen,” which had a much different sound. This wasn’t a playful, dance, pop song. Rather, this was a slowed-down, raw ballad about the pain, rather than joy, of romance. Artists today, in many ways, don’t have genre or thematic constraints that existed just a couple decades ago. How do you think this allows you to be a more authentic and better artist?

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D&G 🌶 #vmas2018

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Kim Viera: I never really put constraints on myself in terms of what I should sound like to people. I try to be truthful in my music and aesthetic. In my writing, sometimes it shows up differently in the way it sounds, thematically or genre wise. I think, for me, before I listened to so many different types of music growing up and that diversity made me different because I don’t put constraints on my creativity. I like to take people on different journeys musically. I don’t think every song has to sound the same. I don’t need to be in a box. I can be Kim. People can be multifaceted, and that’s how I am with my music. I love those things that make me different. People should embrace difference.

FIERCE: You have dropped back-to-back songs that bang, undeniably, over the course of a year. What can we expect next from Kim Viera? What are you working on that you’re excited about and can tell us about?

Kim Viera: I’m dropping another record in the next month or so with a huge a feature.  I can’t say who just yet, but it’s a major feature. And I have my EP coming out at the top of the summer. You’ll have that by the beginning of summer. I’m working on projects and doing a lot more shows, possibly a tour. But I’m working on some dates to make people more familiar with me. I have a body of work people can live with for the summer.

FIERCE: That sounds so exciting. You are at the start of your career and it’s already looking very bright. In 10 to 15 years, what do you hope people can say about Kim Viera?

Kim Viera: I just hope that people would say a few things, see that I was a person who broke barriers for young girls in this music industry, culturally but not just for my own culture. I want to show that you don’t have to fit a mold. You’re enough as you are. That I am a person who tried and cares about people and really touches people. That’s what I care about.

Listen to Kim Viera’s latest song “Here for Ya” below.

Read: Up Next: The Emerging Orlando Puerto Rican Singer-Rapper Ballin’ With Bad Bunny, Anuel AA And Becky G

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Up Next: The Emerging Orlando Puerto Rican Singer-Rapper Ballin’ With Bad Bunny, Anuel AA And Becky G

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Up Next: The Emerging Orlando Puerto Rican Singer-Rapper Ballin’ With Bad Bunny, Anuel AA And Becky G

Courtesy of Nohemy

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

When Roc Nation’s #RocDaCourt Latin celebrity basketball game takes Las Vegas on April 24, there’s going to be an unfamiliar female face playing alongside Bad Bunny, Anuel AA, A.Chal and other urbano heavyweights. Let us introduce you: Nohemy, the emerging singer-rapper out of Orlando, Fla.

The moment is huge for the Puerto Rican artist, who just dropped her first Spanish-language single, “Repetir,” an energetic boastful bop, last month. But, clearly, the rising act has reason to be confident, though that doesn’t mean she’s not humble.

“Things are picking up. I’m grateful and enjoying the process,” the 25-year-old talent told FIERCE.

Nohemy, who is on Team El Combo, with el Conejo Malo, Tainy, Myke Towers, Rauw Alejandro and more, won’t be the only girl on the court. Becky G is over on Team La Familia, where she’ll be balling with acts like Anuel, Luny Tunes, C. Tangana and Justin Quiles, among others. But Nohemy doesn’t have her sights on the young Mexican-American singer. Instead, the triple threat, who played college basketball on a scholarship, is coming for Anuel — which is a glimpse at the up-and-coming Latina artist’s drive overall.

We chatted with Nohemy about the forthcoming game, where she sees her poppier sound in urbano’s global takeover, shining in Orlando’s music scene and what to expect next from the rising act.

FIERCE: It’s hard to place your music and sound in a genre box. How would you describe your style?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: My style of music would be uptempo, commercial and very happy. I don’t promote drugs or stuff like that. I try to be a positive energy, a good energy.

FIERCE: You were born and raised in Puerto Rico before moving to Orlando when you were 16 years old. What sort of music did you grow up on and how do you think this influenced your sound today?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: Growing up, I listened to a lot of Usher, Chris Brown, Michael Jackson and hip-hop. I didn’t even really understand the lyrics, but I liked the feeling of the uptempo music. I was also always involved in sports, and we always had a lot of playlists with this type of music, too. I think all of this reflects my style today because I go off of energy and the feeling it gives me. I’m very hyper. I can’t stay still. So I really identify with this high-energy music and I think I showcase this through my performances onstage.  

FIERCE: Oh definitely! I’ve seen some of your performances online, and you are very energetic. Not only are you singing and rapping, but you’re also dancing. When did you realize your musical talents and knew this was something that you wanted to do?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: I knew since I was little. I started singing at church, and I always had this feeling in me, this fire, that wanted to explode. In my room, I was always singing Usher and Chris Brown in front of the mirror. I always projected myself somewhere else. It was like a feeling of escaping from the real world.

FIERCE: At what point does this become the real world, something you go after professionally?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: Once I actually took the initiative to make my own music and get onstage, that was it. I always had a vision of what it would feel like, but once I experienced it, I needed more of it. I felt like I had to keep going. It’s addicting.

FIERCE: Orlando’s music scene used to be huge in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, during the bubblegum pop era, but it has since faded out. That’s not to say there aren’t big and rising names in the game from the O’ — Luis Fonsi, Coast City, Spiff TV, Nitty Scott and more, for instance — but many have left the city. What are some of the difficulties but also advantages of doing music in Orlando right now?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: I think it’s growing. It’s a great time right now. The Latino community is huge and growing in Orlando, and people are starting to catch up with what’s going on. As more Spanish-speaking people come in, the Latin market is growing worldwide. People here see that and I feel like there’s more support in the city now than ever, especially after Hurricane Maria, with more people coming over. People are understanding the culture and the importance of supporting one another. There are some difficulties, especially because Orlando is such a tourist area, so the music scene kind of gets lost in that. It’s not something people see; it’s hidden. It hasn’t gotten the boom and exploded out, so you have to network a lot, go to little events, get to know people inside the community and business. But there are people doing it. It’s just a different vibe, more quiet.

FIERCE: One of the benefits I see is you get to be a big fish in a small pond and are more likely to get on someone’s radar. Case in point: You were selected to participate in Roc Nation’s #RocDaCourt basketball game in Vegas this month, where you’ll be on team El Combo with Bad Bunny, Tainy, Myke Towers, Rauw Alejandro, A.Chal and more. How did that come about?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: My manager Stephanie was in contact with Lex Borrero, who is the executive vice president of Roc Nation and the head of Roc Nation Latin. He asked her if I played basketball, and I do, I actually went to college on a basketball scholarship, so she told him that and they asked me to come on. I think it’s so cool because I get to make music and showcase this passion, sports, which I’ve done for so many years of my life.

FIERCE: Team La Familia has Becky G, but you’ll be the only woman on Team El Combo, and so early on in your career. What does this feel like for you?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: Honestly, it’s surreal. When she told me, I got emotional. I come from a place where this is something we see on TV and never picture yourself there, especially so fast. I just put out my first single last month, and things are picking up. I’m grateful and enjoying the process.

FIERCE: I’m sure! As you said, you actually play ball and have real court skills. Who are you going to be coming for during the game on April 24?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: I’m coming for Anuel. I’m coming for him. I heard he has some ball skills, and a lot of people who saw I would be in the game have reached out to me and said I have to cross him up. It’s a fun, competitive game, and I have to do it now for the people, haha.

FIERCE: Haha, I can’t wait to watch that! I want to get to your music. You recently released “Repetir,” a fun, somewhat boastful song for the haters who didn’t believe in you. Why did you want to make this record. Does it describe sort of where you’re at right now in life?

Nohemy: Yeah, it definitely describes where I’m at in life. I took nine months off. In that time, I was finding myself as an artist. Before this, I wasn’t an artist who would say these things in songs; I didn’t have the confidence for that. But after putting that time in, that development, finding me, who Nohemy is, I found that confidence to say the things I said in that record. This is who I am, and I will continue to be me.

FIERCE: Love that! What else are you working on right now that you can tell us about?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: Right now, I’m working on my next single. I’m working on some visuals that I want to put together with it. That should be out by early June. Really, I’m just focused on making more music, having stuff to follow up with, and booking more shows.

FIERCE: Latin pop and urbano are 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?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: I think what I bring to the game is a different type of sexy, one that doesn’t necessarily  include too much skin but is a projection of the art, of my music, my style and my personality.

FIERCE: You are 25 years old, at the start of your career. What do you want the people to say about Nohemy in 10 to 15 years from now?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: That I always remained myself, true to myself: Nohemy, the humble, funny and really caring person. This isn’t just about the music, but what I represent, my morals. I’m not buying into things for the money. This is for the culture; this is who I am.

Read: Up Next: Meet Angelica Vila, The New York Dominicana Behind The Ladies’ Jam Of The Spring

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