Having released Pantera (Panther), her third record, Paz Ferreyra, better known as Miss Bolivia, spoke to Billboard Argentina about her involvement with social issues, music as a catharsis and her relationship with the hit song “Tomate el Palo” (Get Out): “I’ve tried to kill it any amount of times, but I just can’t.”
Your music and your poetry have always been ideologically charged, but Pantera feels more popular, more accessible to everyone.
I believe that as time has passed, I’ve started to enjoy more and more musical styles, and I’ve also felt the need to have more things to say in many senses. The songs talk about a more plural and diverse audience. Or whatever its called. It can also be popular. I’m really interested in narrating scenes from real life with the songs, through my lenses, of course. I am also interested in sharing and telling my autobiography, which sometimes it is more humorous, other times much more neurotic and more miserable.
How important was Guillermo Beresñak for the record?
He was much more active in the writing. Before, I’d bring him almost finished songs, and he’s always been very helpful in terms of engineering and producing. But this time I came to him very much in the pre-production stage, because I felt like working on them with him and make them grow. And I started feeling the pleasure and richness he brought in to the process. Musically, I became more open and virginal, and that could be felt in the studio, so I am very happy.
Was there any situation in particular that made you want to get involved with social issues?
I lived many moving things. I’ve been hit a lot, metaphorically speaking. One of them was when I was 16 years, and I found out that there had been a military dictatorship in my country, with 30,000 disappeared, tortured and dead. I was in New York, studying, and there was no Internet. I discovered it when I went to a library in the U.S. to look for information for a class on my country. It was something that had been kept from me in my house and my education.
When I came back to Argentina in 1993, I took a more active role in and began to read about those silent years. I needed to replace the silence with information. I was thirsty, and that can be heard in my lyrics.
Then, is your music a way of doing catharsis?
In a way, yes, but in another, it works as a documentary. There is a big part of reality that is not shown by the media. What we see is a very grim selection. The microphone and the stage are empowering tools. You can choose if you keep it to feed your ego or if you pass it ’round so as to let other voices be heard, those which are silenced. I try to pick the second road, sometimes I make it work, others I can’t. That’s why my songs are not always autobiographical, but rather incorporate many voices to my own.
Despite it being from 2013, “Tomate el Palo” is still played in the radio and in dance clubs. Do you enjoy this resurgence, or do you dread the possibility of ending stuck to the hit?
It’s crazy, that song was something very spontaneous. It’s very autobiographical. I could channel my sadness in a completely different register. It became big because people could relate to it: Everyone, in a certain way, has been in a cheating situation. I thank that song a lot, it brought me a lot of work, and to me, it’s the tip of the iceberg that is the rest of the record.
I like it, and I enjoy singing it, but it steals the show. I wanted to kill it, but I just can’t. It can’t do a concert and not sing it, otherwise they’d pelt me with things [laughs]. I don’t want to be stuck to that song, I want people to know I do other stuff too, despite cumbia being the foundation of what I do.