La Doña in San Francisco, in a Pandemic: 'The Focus Has Changed More to Making Music'

La Doña
Thalia Gochez

La Doña

The Bay-Area femmetón singer-songwriter contemplates releasing new music as she awaits for new equipment she invested in to help her record music while in confinement. 

Emerging Mexican-American femmetón singer-songwriter La Doña's new album, Algo Nuevo, dropped March 12 via Human Re Sources just as the coronavirus pandemic intensified in the U.S. Concerts, festivals and other large gatherings across the country were canceled, including her planned South by Southwest debut, interrupting her early career momentum.

As part of Billboard’s efforts to best cover the coronavirus pandemic and its impacts on the music industry, we will be speaking with La Doña -- whose real name is Cecilia Cassandra Peña-Govea -- each week to chronicle her experience throughout the crisis. (Read last week's installment here and see the full series here.)

What's changed for you over the past week?

Nothing much. We've been having beautiful weather and have been seeing my family. We were able to play for the Mission District Food Hub which is being organized by Carnaval San Francisco. So, the day the Carnaval was supposed to take place [May 24], we went down there to play for people waiting in line for food boxes. We were practicing of course social distance and playing in the middle street.

There was a livestream edition of the festival and for that, I submitted a video of my family playing a song which was the cover we recorded a few days ago "Nada Soy."

Otherwise, it's been pretty mellow. Writing a lot of music. Jamming a little bit.

Your song "Dembow Y Sexo" was featured on HBO's Insecure episode seven, which aired Sunday, May 24. Did you know it was going to be part of that episode's soundtrack?

I found out 30 minutes before the episode aired that it was going to happen. I haven't watched it yet cause I'm still catching up on the episodes. I knew my team was having conversations about having a potential placement on the show and it would air May 24 but they hadn't received any confirmation. So, I assumed it wasn't going to happen anymore. But then it did happen and it made me so happy. I thought, well if I can't party then at least my music can party.

I know I asked you this the first week of quarantine but now with a few weeks in, how often are you communicating with your management team nowadays?

Right now obviously a lot of focus has transferred from live performance and booking shows to creation of content. I was able to communicate with them that I want to now focus more on writing and I asked them for help finding beats and potentially who I can collaborate with in these times. I think that now it's been refreshing that the focus has changed more to actually making music.

Do you think you will be releasing any new music soon?

Yeah! I have a couple of songs I really like. We're still talking about how that would look like. I had wanted to release some Spanish corridos, one about love and the other about heartbreakin the Spring or Summer time and we're now analyzing if I should release something in a more chill way instead of the corridos but we're still talking.

What's the vibe like among local artists in San Francisco?

Nobody thinks that any live shows will come back any time soon. A lot of performers in San Francisco are also music educators, like myself, because there is no real way to just survive as a performer here. I do know that a lot of people are struggling to maintain engagement with their students and put out new material or even deal with the whole technical side of it now with everything becoming virtual.

Anything else you want to add?

I ordered all of my equipment. I remember last week I brought up getting ready to order some stuff and I finally did it. Yesterday, I ordered my gear and it should come in a week or two so I'm really excited and proud of myself for investing that money. That's the biggest thing for me. I got a 12-channel mixer, a four-channel looping pedal, a microphone and a couple of monitors.