Born Mariana de Miguel, Mexico City’s Girl Ultra has been making international waves for the last few years.
Racking up acclaim from the likes of Rolling Stone, The FADER and Dazed for her unique “babygirl/escorpio” R&B sounds, Girl Ultra topped off a career-breaking 2019 with her sophomore album Nuevos Aires: a ten track collection of airy vocals spread across silky, vibey ’90s rhythms and ’80s sonic aesthetics.
“I felt much more like a woman in this album and free to distance myself from Mariana de Miguel and reveal more of the femme fatale of Girl Ultra, both in style and in composition,” she says of the album in a press release. “In my first album I was lacking experiences. Now I’ve been through much more and was able to channel that in Nuevos Aires, which means new airs, or a change in scenery.” The album, she says, represents the “reincarnation of a woman from the 80s that is blossoming and being revived through sounds of 2019.”
Kicking off 2020 with her debut COLORS performance for the seductively mellow ‘Discreción’, Girl Ultra firmly establishes herself as a global artist on the rise with no signs of slowing down.
SheBOPS: Is there a quote you consider to be your life motto?
Girl Ultra: Lately, it’s just ‘breathe’.
What’s in your Recently Played list on Spotify?
Alles Ist Gut – DAF album and Cinema Paradiso soundtrack by Ennio Morricone.
What are your favorite sounds to incorporate into your music?
I love blending real drums with classic 80’s drum machines, Juno 60, DX7 pads and flute-piano preset.
Where do your musical inspirations come from?
My city, love, lust, nature, the 80’s nostalgia I never lived.
What emotions do you hope your music conveys to the listener?
Some sort of weird empathy and fulfillness.
Your ‘Ruleta’ video is your perspective within Mexico’s problematic music industry – why was it important for you to showcase this in your video?
Because there’s a lot going on in Mexico. We just need to help the independent music industry grow, and the change also needs to come from within, getting rid of the idea of competition and helping your partners grow organically.
How would you describe the message of ‘Nuevos Aires’, your debut album?
This is an exploration album for me. Musically and lyrically. It’s a breath of fresh air, I feel more of a woman than a girl now. It’s my perspective on what made me grow… my hectic and passionate love-hate relationship with my city, lovers, lust, friends that are not my friends anymore, homesickness… it’s got a very honest part of me.
What challenges did you face while preparing your debut album?
A lot for real. Putting the team together, finding the money to do greater things, the timing, touring while mixing, mixing while touring… being away for some part of the process made it tougher mostly.
What was the biggest difference in terms of writing and recording ‘Nuevos Aires’ compared to your previous projects?
It’s got a way more organic approach in terms of instrumentation and arrangements. I also took more time to dive into the libraries and polish every single detail. And as a composer I just felt more sharp and clear. More raw.
Is there a lyric on the album which you feel sums up the vibe of the record?
“Al amor salvaje.”
How do you feel about the global expansion of Latin music in recent years?
It’s been pretty confusing, cause we are fighting against becoming just a trend. We can’t just be categorized into one tag ‘Latin music’, I think that’s not the purpose. We just wanna be seen as any other artist in any other genre. A punk Mexican artist is not ‘Latin music’ – it’s punk. In Spanish.
Have you noticed any double standards when it comes to gender in the music industry?
From the beginning of time. We gotta be aware of what we are really worth, and that we are also a product. It’s our responsibility to be awake and watch the process of how we wanna be seen and how we would like to be sold out there.
How do you feel about the representation and portrayal of women in music? Is there anything that you’d like to change?
I would like to change that responsibility society pressures on us about being always political in our speech just because we are women. I don’t see my fellow male artists getting these kinds of questions. Yes, it’s a struggle. Yes, it’s harder. Yes, we gotta be more patient. But we are bigger, brighter, smarter than they used to think.
What advice would you give to young girls and women looking to work in music?
To support and teach each other. Share plugins, teach each other vocal exercises, exchange books. Nurture your mind and your souls together.
Is there anything in your career that you feel like you are still learning?
EVERYTHING. The lessons never stop.
What’s planned for 2020?
Touring the new album, making new arrangements to the show, even more punchy and soulful. Some releases maybe and a lot of breathing.