Emerging Mexican-American femmetón singer-songwriter La Doña‘s new album, Algo Nuevo, dropped March 2020 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 have been speaking with La Doña — whose real name is Cecilia Cassandra Peña-Govea — to chronicle her experience throughout the crisis. (Read the previous installment here and see the full series here.)
Has anything changed for you in the past few weeks?
I started playing again. I’ve played the Outloud Raising Voices Fest in L.A. for Pride and over then Stern Grove in the Bay Area. So, I’m just slowly getting back into it while I’m also trying to write a bunch for me and other artists. We’ve set a release date for my ranchera song, which will be a double single, for July 16 and I’m doing it through the distributor ONErpm. And I’m just trying to get my chops back up and keep working it cause when I totally forgot how much I’m jumping and yelling. I was so exhausted the next day. Like imagine going on tour again?
So did you get a new distribution deal with ONErpm?
We got a very simple distribution deal nothing too serious. They are from the Bay Area and I’ve worked with them in the past so I felt pretty confident going into it. For now, they’ll just be distributing this one single.
California has reopened its economy June 15, most states have, and you’re booking summer shows, does it feel like we’re back to normal completely? Or is there still a part of you that thinks, “we’re still very much in a pandemic”?
Economically, everyone is still extremely impacted. I think there’s this false sense of celebration with venues opening again and things are back on track but then again it takes us back to the conversation of who was actually impacted the most and it was the working class people. There is a sense of relief when you’re able to get back on stage although it does not feel over for me but at the same time, I saw my family in a crowd of people when I played Stern Grove and was back to taking pictures with people. It was overwhelming and crazy. Like here we are again but we’re in a unique place right now as we all try to understand what the new “normal” is.
Last time we spoke you had just parted ways with your distributor and had been talking to potential new labels and managers. Any update on that?
It’s been going well, it’s a little bit slow. Everyone is just sort of catching their breathe after COVID-19. And this wave of everyone wanting to book something or sign some sort of deal cause everything is back to normal now. But then everyone is in this position of like ‘ok but, realistically, what can we actually do.’ I’m still talking to different managers because it’s really not feasible anymore for me to be self-managing. But I’m still on the market and still open so it’s going a little slower than expected.
You’re playing for the first time at Ruido Fest in Chicago in August. When it comes to traveling across the country, are you traveling with less people on your crew to save money? And, will you pay out of pocket?
Well actually, Chicago will be the first time I really travel somewhere to perform because the other summer festivals have been pretty local like in the L.A. area and San Francisco. So, I’m not really sure what the budget will look like. I haven’t started thinking about that, which I really should because it’s coming up. I will be paying out of pocket and I already have to travel with less crew members because there’s capacity limitation now.
What will the next few months look like for you?
We’re going to be focusing on just playing at different outdoor summer festivals such as Yerba Buena Music Festival in San Francisco in July and Chicago’s Ruido Fest in August. Then we’ll come back for a little break and prep for Austin City Limits that’s taking place in October.