Nathy Peluso is a few days away from doing it Latin GRAMMY her debut, and, naturally, she’s horny. On stage, the Argentinian singer-songwriter is a burst of energy – her improvised dance moves and body movements could be a spectacle of their own.
During a Zoom call from her home in Argentina, Peluso, dressed in loungewear, reveals a laid back demeanor. On the heels of her debut performance at the Latin GRAMMYs 2020, where she will share the stage with Argentinian icon Fito Paez and is also nominated for the first time – she is shortlisted for the categories Best New Artist and Best Alternative Song – she is greedy, even if the circumstances will be different. This year, due to COVID-19, the Latin GRAMMYs will not be returning to their usual broadcast home, Las Vegas, and instead will be based in Miami with performances based around the world.
“This is something that I never expected at all. It’s an experience that I want to take care of and that I want to pamper with my heart because I know it will be something I will remember,” said -it.
The singer, who moved to Spain in her childhood and continued to study physical theater, placed that same kind of considerate care in her first full album, Calambre, meaning electric shock. With that, Peluso, fan of Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott, Earth, Wind & Fire, jazz and bossa nova, among other genres, shows an aversion to genre boxes; The album features salsa, R&B, hip-hop and classic Argentinian pop sounds. The singer researched all the genres she featured to make them “organic and authentic,” she says. If she wants to adopt a genre, she has to do it right, she believes.
But Peluso makes it clear: she doesn’t define her music, she lets the music define her. She talks more with GRAMMY.com about how she lets the music speak for itself, growing up as an immigrant in Spain, her debut album, being nominated for a Latin GRAMMY for the first time, and her performance at the show.
First of all, congratulations on your appointment. Where were you when you heard the news?
I was outside. They called me on the phone and it took me by surprise. I started running in the street. I called my mom. I wasn’t really expecting it. It was like a very unexpected call for me. I wasn’t waiting to see if they would tell me something, I didn’t expect it at all.
Is your mother the first person you called? What did you say to him?
Yes. I thought she would be very excited. I broke the news to him. I said, “Mami, mum, I’m nominated for a Latin GRAMMY.” And she said, “Wow. Nathy, that doesn’t surprise me, because you deserve it.” She said some very nice things. It was an exciting time.
You are nominated for Best New Artist. It’s big. What does the appointment mean to you?
For me it means [a lot coming] from the music industry, from the academy, from my peers. As a very important inspiration for me to move forward and continue to represent Latin music with a lot of love. For me, it gives me a sense of pride and honor to be able to be there to represent so many musicians, our culture, our music. It’s incredible.
What was the process of creating your first album Calambre?
It was a very organic process. The songs started to come out of melodies that I was recording and sketching them out until I figured out how to make them all evolve. I knew I wanted to be called Calambre from the start because I arrived at a very inspiring and energetic point. It was interesting because it was a very powerful learning that I did professionally and personally. I learned a lot and had to face several new situations, I worked with artists and musicians that I admired a lot. It was an artisanal job because there was an in-depth research around each musical genre that I got involved in on the album because there are a lot of them. It was a very delicate and interesting process from which I came away very enriched.
What did you do to learn more about each genre?
The truth is that I embarked on research which also included finding people who represent the genre, arrangers, musicians or producers, to also give credibility to this sound from someone who has a lot of experience in this area. Wind arrangements or salsa arrangements, for example in “Puro Veneno”. If I was going to do a piece of salsa, I wanted to do it for real. The whole group behind, the arrangers, the choristers, all are from Puerto Rico. The song is performed live in Puerto Rico. It was a learning experience, getting insight into the roots of each genre and also being able to do the craft work which can be difficult as the truth is that I felt it as a challenge to do all those genres that are not normally not heard in Spanish. , like hip-hop or neo-soul or certain ballads. Making them organic and authentic in Spanish, Castilian, is also a task that I have learned a lot.
You’ve talked a lot about your love for different genres. Did you want your debut to really show who Nathy Peluso is?
With Calambre, it was nothing more than a simple intention. My intention was not to do something homogeneous, to represent myself only as myself and my character because, really, I organically improvise my character. Music is what guides me and represents me, I don’t represent it. I found it interesting to let myself go through the music and then to imagine myself as Nathy Peluso and my sound.
I was never afraid that it does not sound homogeneous between all the songs or how can I make myself known with this album? No, I just sank, I did everything I felt I had to do musically. I wrote all the lyrics with what I felt I needed to write, regardless of following a rule or something, I just wanted to flow.
In the root of that too, I let go, I trust, I trust the music and my fans to adapt and settle down as it should. The search was not so much towards my ego or towards my personality, but towards a good music which represents the music, which respects and revere the music and I brought a grain of sand so that many people appreciate the musical quality.
Read: Meet the best new artists nominated this year | Latin GRAMMY Prize 2020
You are a lively artist. You studied physical theater. Does your studies influence you as an artist?
Yes, without a doubt. I believe that everything we learn throughout life influences us, whether in our studies or in our life experiences. Obviously it makes me a better version of myself because it’s something I’ve learned and it helps me get to it – obviously we can all get to this point, but some doors must be unlocked, some doors [have to] open to access it all. Above all, to me, to my career, it taught me the incalculable power of improvisation and the power of movement, of bodily expression, of what can be said at the root of a character; It fed me a lot and gave me the tools to be able to defend certain things on stage.
You were born in Argentina, but as a child you moved to Spain with your family, how did that affect you musically?
I do not know. I feel that I have come to know many cultures. As an immigrant, I have associated myself with many [other] immigrants who brought me closer to salsa, for example Colombians. Many Colombian friends taught me how to dance salsa. I had the opportunity to be part of a Cuban choir for many years, learning from Cubans. Then I studied at Alicia Alonso’s high school, who was a well-known Cuban dancer, and all of my teachers were also Cuban. It gave me the rare opportunity, because I was in Spain, to connect with a deeply rooted Latin world because the people who had left their [countries, had] roots and had to promote them elsewhere. I learned a lot about Latin culture and it made me look for a great friend, a great partner in music. Maybe for a girl who emigrates, it is something a little difficult. Having music that always accompanied me made me love having a loyal friend who has never left me.
In the album you have a song dedicated to Buenos Aires, was it important for you to include the song in honor of your homeland?
Yes, the truth is, it’s a name that came after doing the song. It wasn’t on purpose, but it looked so much like the city to me, it sounded so much like the sound of nostalgia that it reminds me of my roots, that I decided to give it that name. Because I felt that a lot of people, closing their eyes and listening to this song, could travel wherever they wanted, because the sound is like a time machine, like the sound of a beautiful nostalgia, the sound of feeling part of something. Obviously for me, when I closed my eyes, I listened to my city, it was something special, a special ritual.
You will appear at the Latin GRAMMY Awards, and I know they will be different because of COVID-19, but is there something that you are most passionate about?
I am very excited because I will be playing. This is something that I did not expect at all. It’s an experience that I want to take care of and that I want to pamper with my heart because I know it will be something I will remember. This is my first time playing Latin GRAMMYs and it is such a huge opportunity that I am very grateful for and very much looking forward to.
What can you tell us about your performance?
They won’t leave me, I can only say that I prepare it with a lot of love and promise to do my best.
The 2020 Latin GRAMMYs will air on Univision on Thursday, November 19 at 8 p.m. ET / PT (7 p.m. CST). The show will also be broadcast on TNT (cable) at 7 p.m. (MEX) / 8 p.m. (COL) / 10 p.m. (ARG / CHI), and on Televisa on Channel 5.
Learn more about the Latin GRAMMY Awards 2020 via the Latin Recording Academy official site.
2020 Latin GRAMMY Awards nominees announced: see full list