Argentine musician Nathy Peluso describes herself as an “electric person.” On Instagram, Peluso can be seen dancing around her apartment to the sounds of Gloria Estefan’s “Conga.” On stage, she combines her passion for Caribbean rhythms like salsa and years-long training in gymnastics and theater to craft her choreographies, which often involve consecutive pirouettes and kicks. It’s no surprise then that Peluso is putting electricity at the forefront of her debut album, Calambre.
“It’s that electric shock, el calambre, of grabbing a plug and submerging it in water to intentionally provoke everything I want people to feel, to inspire them, to move them, to touch them with my music,” says Peluso over Zoom.
A few minutes before our interview, the 25-year-old received two Latin Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Song for “Buenos Aires.” “I’m so excited,” she says. “The album hasn’t even come out.”
Calambre is a 12-song collection filled with Peluso’s references – 90s R&B, salsa, reggaeton, and rap – and irreverent and unapologetic lyrics. In “Business Woman,” she navigates the various facets of a woman, trying to make it a capitalist, male-dominated society. In “Sana Sana,” her latest single drop, Peluso relies on the lullaby “Sana sana colita de rana” to confront the chaos of our current world.
Peluso’s rise to Latin Grammy nominated artist has taken her from Europe to Latin America and beyond, connecting her to fans electrified by her charming sense of humor and cheeky personality. Still, she’s been met with criticism over her hairstyle choices, sporting cornrows in some of her Instagram content and the video for “Natikillah” in 2019.
Emperifollá spoke to Peluso about her debut album, her creative process, and her love of Buenos Aires.
Eá: Did you grow up with “Sana sana colita de rana”?
Nathy Peluso: I love the song “Sana sana colita de rana.” It transmits a lot of tenderness because it’s a song that’s used to heal, to cure. It brings back that motherly love, when you have a wound. When someone says that, when you hear it from your mom, it’s like it doesn’t hurt anymore.
When we are all in a bad place, we always want to be with our moms. That is if we do have a good relationship and good memories with them. Of course, as adults, we can’t have that luxury. So we have to lean toward feelings that connect us to that moment.
Eá: Was that the inspiration behind your single “SANA SANA”?
NP: Yes, I think we are in need of a healing message during these times. In my proposal, it’s a metaphor. I had intentions of healing with my music for my people, give them courage, energy, hope so they can keep going. I thought it was a good connection with childhood, with a feeling of tranquility, of tenderness, of calmness.
Eá: Still, you named your first album Calambre, a word that makes me hurt when I hear it.
NP: I chose it more for its meaning as an electric shock. It’s that electric shock, el calambre, of grabbing a plug and submerging it in water to intentionally provoke everything I want people to feel, to inspire them, to move them, to touch them with my music. I am a very energetic person, and just like I show in the album cover, I am ready to face the electric consequences of this danger. I think this album provokes a feeling that is inevitable, even if it’s not your taste. The music I make will touch you– sí o sí.
Eá: You were born in Argentina but grew up in Spain, how did that shape you?
NP: It’s a very interesting experience because it has forced me to be in situations where I’ve had to learn to value myself, to remember my roots. I’ve had to push to connect with myself, to value myself, to remember who I am, and what I’ve come here to do. Every situation that immigration forces you into are there to test you and constantly make you your own home. It’s not a place, culture, or people. Your memories and your essence are your home.
Eá: Each of your videos are like their own world, why do you pay so much attention to your visuals?
NP: To me it’s one of the processes I enjoy the most because it’s about accommodating and creating an identity to the music and giving it a visual house to everything you listen to. More than just fun, it’s a responsibility. I remember as a kid, I’d listen to a song by Christina Aguilera or Justin Timberlake and then I’d watch the music video and say, “Oh, I wish I didn’t see that.” I always care for everything that visually accompanies my projects because, in the end, when people listen to the song that’s what they’ll remember, that image, your face, your imagination. So with every song I try to offer a different world because I consider every song of mine a different universe.
Eá: Okay, let’s do a lighting round. Are you ready?
NP: Oh, yes. I love those!
Eá: Celia Cruz or Mercedes Sosa?
NP: Oh, you are bad. It’s a very tough decision. I really cannot decide because Mercedes reminds me of the folklore of my tierra, but Celia is that azúcar, that energy. Please, don’t make me choose.
Eá: Okay, will leave it there. Next, alfajores or churros?
Eá: Buenos Aires or Barcelona?
NP: Look, I love Barcelona. It’s where I live and I’m very happy here. But Buenos Aires brings that feeling of inevitable longing that moves me.
Eá: Heels or sneakers?
NP: Oh, heels, mami.
Eá: Red lipstick or gloss?
NP: Gloss! My makeup artist – you have no idea – puts so much gloss on me for everything. Gloss, gloss, gloss. It’s like it drips sometimes because of how much lip gloss you have.
Eá: That was it. One last question, what does being emperifollá mean to you?
NP: To me, emperifollarse is when you put on everything you can to look beautiful. Put on accessories, clothes, adornments, you do your hair, your makeup. Everything you have to do to get ready for the occasion. I don’t get emperifollá all the time because then people don’t notice when I do get emperifollá. But you have to be mindful that being emperifollá comes from within.