PLAY LOUD with Maria Isabel
Follow along for an exclusive interview series with our campaign stars as we discuss everything from music, creativity, to identity and self-love. Tune in, get inspired, and turn up the volume!
Q. How do you get inspired to write music?
A. I take things I have trouble telling other people and put them down on paper and turn them into music. For me, writing is the best way to get all my secrets out.
Q. Is it then difficult to air that all out on stage?
A. Writing feels very much mine — but the moment you get on stage, it's like, it belongs to all of you now. The whole point is that moment of sharing.
Q. So, what secrets did you put in your latest?
A. The project is about a long-distance relationship between New York and L.A. I couldn't complain about being in the relationship from so far away because he was dealing with it, too. And it's like, this sucks for both of us. I put all the hard parts down on paper. It's funny because when you're writing, it feels like no one's ever going to hear it, but obviously that's not what we're doing here.
Q. Have you ever written something that you didn't release because it felt too personal?
A. I had a hard time growing up, with depression and anxiety, and I thought I was the only one going through it. Music helped me so much. That feels like the biggest reason I'm here—to make sure other people know they're not alone. So it wouldn't be right of me to hide any feelings.
Q. That’s such a nice thing to say.
A. I feel very strongly about how we handle mental health in society. I find it really frustrating that we get physicals once a year, and the extent of our mental health evaluation is, “By the way, have you felt down at all in the last year? No? Good. Okay. Bye.” I can't believe that we don't give the same attention to mental health that we do physical health.
Q. What made you decide to record some songs in Spanish? To reach more people?
A. Both of my parents are from the Dominican Republic. Spanish is my first language. A lot of my family members don't speak English. It just feels natural and right to include that in my music, as a bigger picture of me and also for that part of the world. The D.R. means so much to me. I know we listen to English music anywhere and everywhere, but I do want to specifically speak to that crowd as well. If it were any other point in the past, I might've had to fight or at least advocate for that a little bit harder, but we have gotten to a point where Latin music is on the rise. It's just all the music I grew up with!
Q. Is there anything that’s easier to express in Spanish versus English?
A. It can be harder to express emotions in English, especially love. It’s such a passionate language!
Q. How has your music evolved?
A. I’m experimenting with sound. My first project was kind of, me doing any session I could find and writing as much as possible to figure out what I wanted to sound like. Now, my pool’s a little bigger because I’ve met more people. I’m not, like, recording in bedrooms in New York. The sound of my first project is very low-fi, bedroom RnB.
Q. OK, so you’ve been working a ton. What was the last kind thing you did for yourself?
A. I booked myself a hotel room and took a bubble bath. I actually feel pretty strongly that we should remember that self-care isn't just bubble baths and like, washing your hair. Self-care has been packaged into a neat little box of bubble baths and face masks. While that all can be very helpful, I think self-care isn't something you can purchase. It’s setting boundaries, advocating for yourself, speaking up when you need to, and just doing what's best for you in all moments.