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?
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?
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.