There has never been a better time for Latin music, and Latin musicians. Thanks to the helping hand of streaming services, which has allowed an international exchange of music like never before, Latin musicians that were once confined only to regional or national success are now taking their rightful spot on the international stage.
Catalan popstar Rosalía scooped up her first Grammy at this year’s awards ceremony, and with platforms such as Netflix championing Latin-inspired (Narcos, Casa de las Flores) and Spanish-speaking (Roma, Money Heist) TV shows and films, all of which feature Latin music on their scores and soundtracks, 2020 is the perfect time for Latin musicians to breakthrough.
Entre Baby Yors – the Argentinian-born, NYC-based multi-talented creative force proudly representing the LGBTQ+ community in the Latin music genre.
Growing up in rural Jujuy, Baby Yors was not exposed to the musical greats of past and present, leading him to carve out a unique sound and image that blends soulful vocals, rock melodies, Latin rhythms and queer aesthetics.
Compared to the likes of Freddie Mercury and David Bowie (so, no pressure), the vocalist and songwriter is an equally-talented filmmaker. During the process of his latest short film, Chic and Chambray, Baby Yors was inspired to produce two tracks, Mundos del Revés and Sometimes.
Today, the artist releases his electrifying music video. We caught up with the 28-year-old to hear more about his inspirations, queer identity in Latin music and why 2020 is going to be his year.
Imagery by Noah O’Leary
Can you tell us more about the single – what was the inspiration behind the song?
This song means “The upside-down world” in Spanish, and I wrote it as I was writing the score for my short film Chic and Chambray. There’s this queer Argentinean children’s author, poet and singer called Maria Elena Walsh, who I grew up listening to when I was a kid. One of her songs is called El Reino del Revés, and it always meant so much to me… it represents most of my childhood. During the road trip we did to shoot the project, I kept a notebook and wrote some poetry riffing off of the idea. It was like 15 of us living in the same houses and travelling together as we filmed for three weeks. Eventually, it felt as if reality had bent, so I wrote about it.
What was your process from initial idea to its release today?
This one really took a while, because it’s so married to the film. But once the film was edited, and I was scoring it, it was just an instrumental at first, until I started mumbling melodies and jumped in the recording booth right away. I produced it with my friend Zenif, and then brought my friend Rodrigo to play the guitar in it.
The film itself was a very transformative experience for everyone, and we all put so much of ourselves into making this happen… them not knowing what I had in my mind. We had a script and I drew things out and found references, but it still was hard to fully envision for anyone other than me. So they just trusted me, and once I went into post-production alone, I spent a very long time understanding the footage – we had so much! – and listening to where the movie wanted me to put it.
So out of this very complex project, two songs came out, and then it was just about me taking inspiration from the film to create this music video.
Your music is so clearly influenced by your Latin heritage. How do you feel about the rise in Latin music’s global popularity over the last few years?
I never really thought about it much before. I write in both English and Spanish because they are equally as important in my life.
There are so many great Latin artists… but in my opinion, those are the ones who are often missing in the charts. There are so many hidden gems full of heart and inspiration. In the end, it’s the same as in pop music everywhere else… the same old thing gets played and played, and the same voices repeat those formulas and keep on making money. Everyone looks at that when they talk about Latin music being successful. I am excited to see new voices and sounds become more popular.
There are so many great Latin artists, but those are the ones who are often missing in the charts.
Moving on to the music video, can you talk more about the vision behind the video?
The movie was definitely the catalyst for this video. It happened very fast. I got connected to CAM4 through my friend Chris who had just done an exhibition with them. The CAM4 team and I started talking about censorship, and how that was affecting us… to find out that we had a lot more in common than we thought. At the same time, our audiences are very different, so it felt like the right direction to take and we became partners. I came to them with a very clear vision of what I wanted and they were into it.
You will see some beautiful haute couture pieces by Charlie Le Mindu made of real human hair, and some crazy elements and sets created by Z Behl, our production designer… all inspired by the movie. It felt like the cherry on top. A great way to end the “Chic and Chambray” era.
How does your queer identity inspire or inform your work?
I feel like it has always informed and inspired me in ways I am not aware of. In general, I think my queerness isn’t the reason why I make art, or what I am interested in exploring… I think that it comes across regardless just because it’s often a very visual part of who I am. While creating, I’ve been more interested in exploring places and ideas that don’t necessarily relate to queerness, but to humanity as a whole.
What does 2020 have in store for you?
So much! I am working on some very fun video shoots and lots of new music coming soon. Hopefully a full album before the end of the year. Perhaps two of them if I am feeling ambitious. I am working on several projects. I just don’t know how long it will take for them to fully blossom and be ready for exposure.
At BRICKS we like to share the love – which three creatives within your community currently inspire you and why?
Recently I saw “The Inheritance” on Broadway, and it hit me so damn hard. Matthew Lopez wrote a masterpiece and also a masterclass on gay history. Brit Marling has been an inspiration too, with the OA she’s been able to tell very abstract ideas and stories in a new and fresh way. I love that. It exhumes humanity and enlightenment. And I have to mention LP, one of my favourite artists out there. She is lighting in a bottle – the voice, the songs, the coolness… go see her live and you will remember that moment for the rest of your life!