Far enough from the hustle and bustle of Mexico City, Mon Laferte spent her quarantine in Tepoztlán, a pueblo mágico, or magical town, nearly two hours south of the city where she wrote as if the world was coming to an end.
“I was like everyone else, just filled with uncertainty,” says the 37-year-old Chilean singer-songwriter. “So I clung onto my music and my guitar because I thought, if the world ends, I at least want people to know how I was feeling.”
So she wrote her sixth album, aptly titled Seis – out Apr. 8 via Universal Music México – in which she doesn’t hold back while singing about toxic relationships, past and future loves, and the love she has for her mother and other women, for whom she’s constantly fighting for on the front lines demanding equality and respect.
The achingly personal topics and vulnerable lyrics are paired with a new sound for Laferte: regional Mexican. Known for her raspy, often dramatic vocals and use of classic Latin rhythms such as cumbia, bolero and alt folk, the Latin Grammy-winning artist experiments with mariachi (“Que Se Sepa Nuestro Amor”), norteño (“Te Vi”) and corridos tumbados (No Lo Vi Venir”) in an homage to the genre’s unique and ever-evolving sonority. “I’m a huge fan of corridos tumbados,” she says. “I love that mixture of culture and the kids – because they are literally chavillos [young teens] – who are playing that music are still connected to their roots but also to the outside world. I think it’s a brave and purposeful genre.”
“Brave and purposeful” is also how Mexican star Gloria Trevi describes Laferte. “She is a well-rounded artist, honest and transparent,” Trevi tells Billboard. “She’s done stuff to move the needle and I admire that about her. She’s brave and doesn’t care what others think of her. In a way, I can see myself in her.” The pair sing together for the very first time on “La Mujer,” penned by Laferte a few years ago but rewritten for this new album.
Below, Laferte spoke with Billboard about Seis and what it represents, from Los Angeles where she’s currently doing promo for her new album.
You open the album with “Se Me Va a Quemar El Corazón,” where you’re vulnerable but gutsy at the same time. I’d say that’s the feeling across the entire album. Where did you draw the inspiration from?
That’s actually the first song I wrote for this album. The entire writing process was very solitary, bleak and melancholic, because I was like everyone else, just filled with uncertainty about what was going to happen. So I clung onto my music and my guitar because I thought, if the world ends, I at least want people to know how I was feeling. I wanted to sing about personal experiences, past and future loves, the love I have for my mom and other women. It’s an album filled with honesty. During that time, I had nothing else to do but write and sing.
You’ve been living in Tepoztlán for two years now. What role did your surroundings play in the making of the album?
I moved to Tepoz because I wanted to have some tranquility and have a space in the middle of nature. It was a blessing for me to quarantine there rather than an apartment in the city. It’s not the same to wake up in Mexico City and just stare at other apartments. I’d wake up and see the mountains, the trees, beautiful butterflies and hear banda music in the distance. That had a direct impact esthetically on this album and how I wanted it to sound. There are elements I’ve never used in my music before, such as banda, and it would have never crossed my mind to use that sound if I wasn’t living here in this pueblo. I’ve been living in Tepoz for two years, but 14 overall in Mexico. I ask my friends, “How do I sound like when I talk?” And they say I sound weird because I still have my Chilean accent but I talk like a Mexican. I’m like a weird hybrid now.
What did you learn about yourself as an artist while recording this very personal record?
I’ve learned that we live life as if we’re in a hurry. I don’t have time to stop, observe or breathe. With this album, if I had anything, it was time. I had time to really listen to the songs, to rewrite, and that’s something I could never do. For example, the song with Gloria Trevi, “La Mujer,” it’s a song I wrote years ago but stopped performing it because I didn’t like the lyrics anymore. They were toxic. I allowed myself to revisit this song for the album because I had time.
There are few collaborations on this album, but they’re all very significant. How did you choose your collaborators?
With Mujeres Del Viento Florido, it was something magical because I remember that Christmas 2019, I was walking around Tepoz and they were there for a concert. I asked one of my producers to please go and ask for their contact because I wanted to do something with them. Then, I wrote “Se Va La Vida” inspired by imprisoned women in Valparaiso, Chile and I thought, I’d love for that all-female band from Oaxaca to be on this track. Which was perfect because they’re also conscious about social injustices and felt connected to this song. They’ve performed before at the Santa Martha Acatitla prison in Mexico.
With Gloria, when I rewrote parts of “La Mujer,” I realized I wanted to sing this with another powerful woman and the first one that came to mind was Gloria. We reached out and when she said yes, I was thrilled. And Alejandro Fernández (“Que Se Sepa Nuestro Amor”), that was all my team at Universal. They brought up the idea when they heard I was recording a regional Mexican album. I thought the question is, “will he want to record with me.”
And La Arrolladora Banda El Limón was one of my producer’s idea because I told him, “wouldn’t ‘Se Me Va a Quemar El Corazón’ sound great with banda?” And he suggested I team up with La Arrolladora, and it turned out great.
Which song defines Seis and this moment in your career?
“Amado Mío,” because that’s the spirit of this album. It’s a song that seems like a declaration of love, but in reality it’s very melancholic because I felt defeated by the pandemic. Plus the guitar plays a huge role in this track, and its honestly what accompanied me during the pandemic. It was nights of just me and my guitar, drinking mezcal, with the crickets in the background.Credit: Original article published here.