Latin Grammy Winner Mariana Vega Takes a Different Route

Mariana Vega

Mariana Vega

The winner of the Latin Grammy for best new artist speaks about her 2015 plans

Billboard: ?What has changed--if anything--since you won best new artist? 

Vega: I feel like nothing has changed yet everything did. I say "nothing" because we still have a long way to go, and if anything, a Latin Grammy means we have to work a lot harder now. I say "everything" because I have a newfound motivation to work on my project.

Immediately after the award ceremony my social media followers doubled, I was contacted by every media outlet in Venezuela. I felt the support and recognition of so many people that stopped me in the streets to get their pictures taken and congratulate me. I also got the incredible opportunity to write with one of the best Latin songwriters, Claudia Brant.

There are projects in the works with big brands in the U.S., to work on ad campaigns. The mere fact that I'm being considered is a clear consequence of the Latin Grammy.

Mariana Vega on the Latin GRAMMY Awards Red Carpet 2014

You do wonderful pop/alternative music, but it's a style that's not played very much, if at all, on U.S. radio.  How are you planning to make your music known here? 

I'm a strong believer in alternative means of promotion. Perhaps radio play is not an option for my style of music, but there's a strong opportunity in soundtrack for film and TV, social media and advertising, these are all very interesting opportunities for new artists. I have great, real relationships with other creative writers who are bloggers and humorists and great web communicators. And, of course, there is absolutely no substitute for playing live.

None of the nominees for best new artist were big names. What do you think helped you win?  

While none of us were known in the U.S. market we were all working in our own countries, and some of the nominees are big names back home. Also, all of the voting members can now listen to the nominees via a Spotify link, so they have access to really listen and discover new musicians. I think the magic happens precisely because the Academy shines a light on new artists, that while unknown, they find worthy of recognition. 

Who are your musical influences? 

I grew up listening to traditional Venezuelan music mixed with latin artists like Soraya, Franco de Vita, La Sole, and also anglo artists like Alanis Morissette, Jewel and Dave Matthews.

Finally, there have been very few female Latin acts in the charts this year. Why do you think this is, and what can be done about it?  

I can't really say I know the answer to this question, but perhaps it has to do with our own machismo culture.  While we can see more and more women in positions of power in Latin America, we are still underrepresented. Many factors have to come into play in order to change this: Education, the role of advertisement, the image of women in pop culture. Hopefully we are moving in the right direction.