Lali Esposito Talks New Album, 'Brava,' & Track by Track Review

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Courtesy of FOX
Lali Esposito

Lali is resting in Ibiza after her last sold-out shows in Miami and Tel Aviv. She also stopped by Madrid, where she got tons of promotion supported by Spanish radio host Tony Aguilar of Los 40 Principales.

Even before the fall, you may see her in Fox Latin America and in Acusada, a movie directed by Gonzalo Tobal that will appear at Venice Film Festival and will premiere Sept. 13 in Argentina. Also, Esposito is about to start a tour through Argentina, Uruguay and Chile that will have its official start in Luna Park, one of Argentina's most prominent theaters.

"Every project has its own special aura, and I perform magic to join them all together. With a lot of passion, my schedule finds its place," she says while she checks her pink iPhone.

She manages her own social media. Both on Instagram and Twitter, her followers are over 5 million. Those platforms are a way for her to be informed, but also a chance to communicate with her fans.

"As a citizen, I have to express my opinion about some causes, otherwise I wouldn't forgive myself," she confesses.

Lali is referring to public debate on abortion and fight for women's rights in Argentina, in which she's been actively participating.

"We should realize that everything is universal and that it's not divided by gender. We're heading that way," she told Billboard.

Lali shows that she's gained more confidence by standing up for herself. Recently, young Argentina popstar Duki told Rolling Stone: "Look, I'm gonna make it short: I'm not Lali Espósito, I don't want fame. I'm a guy who comes from nothing, and I want to be a musical legend. Do you understand? I'm hungrier than all the people in this building. I'm gonna eat the world up."

So, Lali tweeted: "Let Duki know that I was also born very ambitious, and that's why I've made it this far. I didn't search for fame either. It came to me!"

Since she launched Soy, her second solo album in 2016, she's completed a career that started when she was a 10-year-old prodigy, and has always combined music with acting. Today, at 26, her audience is getting bigger.

With a 77-week stay and a peak at No. 2 on the Social 50 chart -- the global chart that measures artists with the most activity on social media -- she's become the Argentine artist with the best reach on the Billboard global lists. She's also currently on the Emerging Artists chart.

This way, she creates intrigue and surprise in North America, where she's compared to Camila Cabello or Anitta as the "girl next door." Lali Esposito make teenagers trust in their dreams, and in the hope of reaching them, thanks to her ability to conquer their hearts.

She is also part of a group of frontgirls, along with Tini, Becky G, Karol G, Natti Natasha, Sofia Reyes, Maite Perroni, Leslie Grace and Paty Cantú, who are renovating the Latin music scene.

Lali Esposito talks to Billboard Argentina:

What's the wildest thing you've done in life?

Well… if I recall anything specific, I'd refer to school days. They voted me as class delegate because I'd argue and defend the issues we went through as students with professors and authorities. But the musical industry is wilder. You have to stand your ground and defend your principles and dreams. The album speaks of this bravery. The willingness to dare and impose, to say is to yell. That's the way I move in life.

How much of your life is hard work and how much is fairy tales?

I'm not gonna separate the fairy tales from the work because in this profession, unlike others, it has to be seen as a whole. Every show is a fairy tale because of what you go through up there. There are reality checks and fantasy checks at the same time. It looks like a science fiction movie. That sensation is always there.

I'd rather unite those two universes rather than divide them. Everyone dreams of being an artist. Now that we made Talento FOX, I can really see this in everyone, not just the contestants. Music is like a balm for many things, and if that's your job, like it is in my case, well then, I feel blessed.

In your first album, A Bailar (2014), you declared your independence outside of acting. In your next one, you openly expressed your ideas and grew stronger as a composer and a performer. What does this third one represent in your career?

The challenge. This album is filled with truth. They are all songs that I like and that represent me. I was able to work on the bases and not stop hearing myself in every song. My true self being present, without betraying myself. I asked myself: "What's my proposal? What do I have to show in the Latin music world that is not the same as someone else's work?"

Nowadays, there are many strong women in Latin music, like Karol G, Becky G… I think that in Brava I achieved that mix between the Argentine and Latin roots, as well as my other side that comes from European immigrants. In recent times, I keep seeing a lot of family pictures like my great-great-grandfather walking off the boat with his bag.

We Argentines are Latin, but we're a strange breed. I wanted to make that clear: I can be Latin; I can sing songs with that sensuality and cadence, but with other clothes and a different style. It's a fusion. I think that this overloaded art and the details show everything that I am, at the service of Latin music.

Do you think that the combination of pop and electronic songs in Latin music is natural?

My style allows me to do it. If I did any other genre, it'd be different. I'm a pop artist, and that lets me play with whatever I want. Tomorrow, I can do a featuring with someone from rock, and it wouldn't be crazy.

A.N.I.M.A.L. played one of my songs putting all their power on top of it, and it didn't stop being my music. If I had done an album similar to Soy, I'd have failed, because there wouldn't have been anything new, and I wouldn't be trying myself in anything different. I think we managed to get the sound that we wanted for my way of singing.

There's an art that defines me. I'm Latin, but at the same time, I'm Italian, and I like to try and be sophisticated with the details and even with the melodrama. I think there isn't much like it.

Brava is a fusion with artists like Abraham Mateo, A Chal, Pabllo Vittar, Mau y Ricky, and producers like Andy Clay or Icon Music. I'm learning that fusion isn't betraying yourself, and that's cool. I'm happy with the result; every song is gonna give my shows a new result.

How would you like to be known by other people? Do you feel like an Argentine ambassador?

Whoever doesn't know me should listen to my whole album. I think it explains me pretty well. I don't know if I'm a sort of ambassador, I see it as a possibility, and I know I can do it. Although, I don't carry that weight, but I feel like I have the opportunity to show something to the world. That's what I work for. The best thing that could happen to us is to expand our culture into new places.

The fandom analyzes every detail of your life. Also, followers on social media and press are always talking about Lali Esposito. How do you identify who really values you?

Common sense plays an absolute essential role. There are people who aren't bad, but who weren't born with common sense. For some reason, I can recognize those situations. I take care of my spiritual world and that lets me be connected with myself. When I do something, it's filled with truth; when I'm defending a cause, it's because I believe in it; when I do music, it's with a lot of honesty.

It's all about how you address other people. That respect comes back your way. I'm never gonna criticize another artist with violence. When great artists such as Abel Pintos, Miranda!, Nahuel Pennisi, or Miss Bolivia performed in my shows, I feel like they came to support me. I value that. It made me feel like it was because of my human side, and not so much the artistic side.

What makes you angry?

Non-constructive criticism. They can say, "I don't like Lali's albums because of this or that." I don't mind, it's an opinion. But criticizing just for pleasure, because they're being snobby, or because they're dividing music into square genres, or because of my followers, or my success, that is something I can't pay attention to. It doesn't affect me.

Or if I write something I find important, like the legalization of abortion, all I received from people that weren't in favor of the law was baseless violence. I never erased a mean comment, I never blocked anyone, I wouldn't do it, and I don't need to either.

Would you like to be anonymous at some point?

No. I wouldn't like that. My passion is this job, and to do it right, it's important how many people follow you and all that. Whoever says it isn't is lying. I even think it's OK to be aware of how many times a song is played or showing up in charts, and check the numbers in general. Obviously, that's important to me.

I'm a little behind on that stuff, but I still care. It's like taking care of a son. I do everything to my liking, but I'd lie if I said I don't also do this to please other people. If not, I'd just listen to my music alone in my room, and I'd be a genius. It'd be boring that way.

You believe in the popular vote, then.

Obviously, because it's popular for a reason. There's a lot of musicians who write songs that don't represent me and I don't listen to, but I understand that they have an enormous audience behind them. Because you don't do it doesn't mean there isn't an audience that likes it.

You came into the world of featurings, both in live shows as well as in Brava. J Balvin played in Coachella with his idol, Beyoncé, and reached a No. 1 in Billboard with Cardi B and Bad Bunny. Do you dream with a featuring on that level for your next album? I've heard that Diplo called you.

I don't think about that for any album in particular, but for how much I've traveled in my journey. I'm not desperate about that. I mean, obviously, there's a ton of awesome artists that I'd love to collaborate with.

Today, the universe is open to let you do things with whoever you connect with. I'm not chasing after it. I'm not gonna do something with someone I don't like. I choose whom.

This album had great featurings. My whole artistic journey was magical. Huge doors were opened for me. This whole thing about being desperate for success isn't what represents me. I'm pretty chill about it.

There's a generation of modern women just like you that are rising up around the world. I'm thinking about Zara Larsson, Dua Lipa, Halsey or Aurora. How aware are you of what they do?

At no point do I feel the need to compare or compete, because I'm Argentine. On a Latin level, proposing something from Argentina is already different. Singing pop in Spanish stops me from comparing. I'm going my own way, and that's what inspires me. I don't play the differences game.

Dua Lipa moves in a whole different world than mine. Of course, I listen to her and I enjoy her music, but I'm not thinking, "That's what I have to do." My thing is making music that I like, and it comes separated from what others may be doing.

Brava track by track:

1. "OMG": It combines some flashes of Spanglish with a variety of modern grooves and tricks thanks to guitarist Peter Akselrad, in an orchestration thought of for future choreographies.

2. "Tu Novia": It plays with auto-tune, debauchery, and trap rhythms. The video has over 5.5 million views on YouTube.

3. "Besarte Mucho": Surprise us with a bolero-style declaration of love that describes her current sentimental state. She overpassed 2 million views on YouTube in a week.

4. "Somos Amantes": The dembow shows up for the first time in the album, dancing over sampled vocals and clean guitars played with staccato.

5. "Salvaje": This is a midtempo and a potential hit for Latin America. The first collaboration comes up with Abraham Mateo while the album starts to become more urban. He takes the song to a new level.

6. "100 grados": It is a journey through sounds that lends itself to international expansion. A. Chal, a Peruvian artist based in New York, adds his vocal melodies that let the song fly to exquisite levels when it's time to talk about beats and sound engineering, under the care of Colombian producers Icon Music (Piso 21, CNCO).

7. "Caliente": Brava raises the tempo next to Brazilian star and drag queen Pabllo Vittar. In this Brazilian-Argentine combination, carnaval makes itself present as well as the dance "between smoke and hard liquor."

8. "Una Na": Under the production of Andy Clay, in September of 2017 she released the first single that would welcome this new era. There are coincidences with "Havana" by Camila Cabello. More than 20 million views on YouTube and various No. 1's in radio charts. So far, it's her most successful and representative piece.

9. "Vuelve a Mí": It starts simply with a piano and vocals, following the path of her older ballads. Between the '80s-sounding keyboard, a guitar solo at the end, voices with vocoders, and an ambitious audio treatment, this song at moments reminds of The Chainsmokers.

10. "Sin Querer Queriendo": It returns the gesture to the Montaner brothers, Mau & Ricky (they had invited her to participate in the remix of "Mi Mala" next to Becky G and Karol G), in a guaranteed hit that promises great radio play.

11. "Mi Última Canción": In this featuring next to Reik, we can find a more international side to her. The Mexican band -- responsible for the hit "Me Niego" with Ozuna -- could help bolster a place in the northern hemisphere.

12. "Tu Sonrisa": A minimalist closing act, with guitar progression that lack effects, a harmonica, and delicate lyrics about her grandmother. It's a folk song that could have welcomed León Gieco.


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