Q&A: Why Singer Yendry Loves Hoop Earrings

Dominican singer Yendry’s music is a cocktail of all her experiences. She brings in the electronic flair of techno and house scenes in Italy, where she was raised, with the Caribbean beats of her home island in songs like “El Diablo,” “Nena,” “Barrio,” and “Se Acabó.”

Her style is no different, mixing glamour and androgyny in one look como si no fuera nada. Most of her looks include a pair of hoop earrings, which she collects, and sneakers, paired with modern minimalist pieces that give her a softer edge.

In the music video for her latest single “Ya,” she wears a plain black cut-out long-sleeves top with a long fringed skirt and white sneakers as she runs como el viento toward the camera. Another memorable look includes the monochrome ivory set and body chain she wore to deliver her COLORS STUDIO performance for “Nena” and “Barrio.” The outfits earned her enough style cred to be featured in the Desigual x Esteban Cortázar ad campaign.

Emperifollá caught up with the singer to chat about her latest single, her hoop earrings collection, and how she kept feeling herself throughout the pandemic.

Eá: Your new single “YA” is so different from your other work, what’s the inspiration behind it? 

Yendry: I know people are more used to listening to my sweeter voice, right? But we all have battles, and that’s the inspiration behind the song. This single is more about being empowered and finding confidence that we all have inside. It’s a warrior mood. And it’s all about knowing that the help you need is within yourself. 

Eá: It seems you’ve found more of that as you spend more time in your home island of Dominican Republic, how has that been?

Y: I didn’t use to see much because every time I went there I’d stay with my family and spend time with them. I have 13 aunts and uncles, so it’s a very big family. A couple of years ago, I decided to go by myself and really venture into the island. And that’s how I found a lot of elements within me that I knew I had but didn’t know where they came from because I always felt different in Europe.

Eá: Really, how so?

Y: So like the festivals and parties in the streets. Someone always says hi or talks to you. That’s how I’d love to live.

Eá: So after “Ya,” what’s next for you?

Y: I’m working on an album. I can’t stay yet what’s going to be in it but that’s what I’m working on right now. I want to do something that really gives me the opportunity to introduce myself to people.

Eá: I’m really into your style, you have a tomboy-ish look that’s also very glamorous. How do you strike that balance?

Y: I think that has a lot to do with my story growing up as a Latina in Italy. I always felt I didn’t want to fit into the stereotype of the Latina who dresses very extravagantly. Since I was a child, I wore baggier, longer clothes to not show my body. I also didn’t want to be seen as just a pretty girl. I wanted people to see beyond that. But as I’ve grown up, like I say in my song “El Diablo,” I’ve wanted to express my feminine side. 

Eá: You also wear a lot of hoop earrings, in your videos and appearances. What do hoop earrings mean for you?

Y: I really don’t see myself with any others. [Laughs] I had a time when I only wore the small ones. I hold onto hoop earrings because I don’t like change. So whenever I find something I like I stick to it. But also this is something that my family passed down to me. My mom and my grandmother would give them to me and I just kept collecting them. Also, las cadenitas. It’s these small things that I carry with me. 

Eá: Do you know the word “emperifollá”?

Y: No. 

Eá: Oh, so you can start using it now, but it basically means to be dolled up or decorated. When do you feel most “emperifollá”?

Y:  There are times that I wake up and I’m just not in the mood. So that’s when I pay more attention to myself. I put on some music and get dancing. I put on some lipstick and just go. I feel good with myself, very empowered. During the pandemic, I’d do that, just put on some lipstick, even if no one would see it. Just to go down to the bodega. 

You don’t need anyone else to see it. It’s just for yourself.

Frances Solá-Santiago

Born in Puerto Rico, based in New York City. She is the editor-in-chief on Emperifollá. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, NPR, Glamour Magazine, Numéro, Refinery29, Remezcla, and Bustle.

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