On Air with Isabella Lovestory
After last year's Humo EP, Isabella has been working on perfecting her pop-reggaeton sound to fully transform into the radio-ready pop force she's always been destined to become. Except this time, things will get a little bit darker. "Humo was pre-pubescent princess and my next project is rebellious teenager," she tells us.
With Latin-influenced pop becoming such a widespread trend within recent years, and with the reggaeton industry being so male-dominated, Isabella Lovestory is a fresh and exciting new voice bound to shake things up. Read our conversation with her, and check out the premiere of her new video for "JETAIME," below.
Have you always wanted to be a pop star?
I always wanted to be a super star. When I was little, I wanted to be like Britney. I was so obsessed. I was also obsessed with Avril Lavigne. And then my parents were kind of indie. My dad had a radio station for some time, so they were always listening to new wave type stuff—Duran Duran, New Order, a lot of Garbage, which I was obsessed with, too. But I have loved reggaeton, like forever. I remember being a little girl and dancing in the mirror, feeling myself, so sexy at, like, five. I would sit down and listen to the radio and write down the lyrics of every song. But yeah, the JLo thing, I used to say that I wanted to be an actress, a singer, and have a brand like JLo.
It’s good that your parents were really progressive musically.
Yeah, cause they had me really young. They had me when they were like 20. So they were young and cool in the 90’s, kinda grungy. My mom was always super fabulous and girly, but the punk one from her girly group. With their influence, I came to love indie rock and all that. And 80’s—The Smiths and The Cure. It was kind of a combination of that with reggaeton, which are two completely different worlds. That’s literally what I grew up listening to, and obviously Britney—she was a huge influence.
I was obsessed with all the pop stars. Britney was the first person I stanned. And Lizzie Mcguire.
Lizzie McGuire is iconic. I used to watch that movie on VHS every night. Oh my god, me too. I was obsessed. I was shook when she was Isabella and she was brunette, cause I’m brunette. I was like, I’m gonna be Isabella. I’m gonna be a brunette Lizzie McGuire. It’s so iconic.
She paved the way for you.
Yeah, she really did. And her outfit was so cute. It was green leather. That was such an iconic moment.
Let’s talk about Soundcloud. Do you think the platform has created a sort of new breed of musician?
Yeah, totally. This generation is so over-stimulated with all these different things. It’s also how the genres come together and create this genre that’s so flexible—trap, pop, reggaeton, rock.. You can literally make all of that into one song. And it’s really cool. I mean, I’ve never really listened to a lot of Soundcloud rap or anything, but it’s a really cool platform.
When people think of Soundcloud, they think of the rap. But I think there’s so much more.
There’s so much more. Because it’s literally just a platform. That’s where I listen to everything because it’s free, first of all.
What’s an album you can listen to over and over again?
I love L.A.M.B by Gwen Stefani. I’ve been listening to it on repeat. I haven't really listened to a full album of reggaeton because it’s all kind of just floating around, but I love Plan B. Their voices are so beautiful, they’re kind of sound Arab. Their voices are so high pitched.
What was it about L.A.M.B that you loved?
It’s girly, but it’s also harsh and weird. I love her lyrics. And I love the fashion influence that she has. Also, yeah she was culturally appropriating, but she was open about it. She literally says in her lyrics, “I’m so inspired by you, harajuku girls.”
I think she was legit just obsessed with the culture.
Now all these white girls culturally appropriating are like, “No, I’m not!” Just admit it.
Where do you think you fit within the rise of this Latin trend in music?
Yeah. I think where I fit, it’s hard because I make reggaeton. I also make pop. I don’t really make trap that much, but I can make trap and I have made trap. The first album I made was literally just made up of YouTube beats that I found, so I didn’t really produce anything or work with someone that I understood. That was called Juguete, which means toy—because making songs was so fun for me, just like a little trinket. That album was really inspired by just what it looks like in the cover—excess, girly. But this recent album Humo is really sad, actually.
Tell me about the song “Humo.” What is it about?
It’s kind of like I’m singing to my evil twin. She’s very debaucherous, and she’s really viceful. She loves to play with men, smoke cigarettes all day, drink a lot… I speak to myself a lot in that song. I’m literally saying, stop being such a crazy bitch, stop being messy, let’s just go dance, and we can repeat it again tomorrow if we want to. But just stop smoking, cause it bothers me. That one is one of the happier songs.
Tell me about collaborating with Chicken.
I met him through Instagram like more than a year ago. He hit me up after he heard the first songs I put on Soundcloud. He hit me up about “Hollywood,” it’s like an old song of mine. He really liked it and was like, let me send you a beat. I love his style, he’s so cool. But then I was working on this other album, busy with other stuff, not really focusing on music, just taking it lightly and having fun with it. Then I sat down one day six months after he sent it to me, and I was like, okay, let’s write this song. And I wrote it in a day. It was “Humo.” After that, we just got to know each other better. We really, really understand each other. It works so effortlessly, and it was exactly what I needed to because I was getting kind of bored not having good production support.
I’m sure it’s frustrating just relying on YouTube beats.
It’s frustrating. It’s kind of fun, though, to be honest.
What do you type in the search bar?
Like, I would type Tank type beat. Or Lil Peep type beat, Cumbia type beat. And then I mixed my own voice using Garage Band. At first, I was using my headphones mic. I still use my mom’s laptop because I don’t have one. But anyway, I would just put the beat, sing over it, put reverb and autotune on my voice, and that’s it. Simple DIY. But then with Chicken, I got myself a little $20 Ebay microphone, and that’s how the whole EP was recorded. But he’s an amazing producer.
I never would have known. It sounds such high quality.
He’s so good. So yeah, I uploaded my first song to Soundcloud in 2017. Literally the reason I started making music was because I was looking at my cat, Gati, the love of my life. And I was like, you need a song so bad, I need to write you a song. Before that, I never ever had a musical history. I don’t play any instruments. Never had singing lessons, or even sang, really. Nothing. Growing up, I was more into drawing. Drawing and fashion, and movies, or whatever. But I looked at Gati, and I was like you need a song so bad. I think I ripped off someone’s Soundcloud beat using Soundcloud to Mp3 converter. But the song is about him and how much I love him. And after that, I was like, I kind of love making music. I’m gonna keep doing this.
You live in Montreal. What’s that like?
It’s really cold. It’s really cheap and nice. But it’s not the same as Honduras. Like I was telling you, I need to have a connection with Honduras in some way, and that’s why I love writing songs in Spanish. People in Montreal are kind of cold, but it’s an amazing city. I’m so happy I moved there. I was living in Virginia before for three years, and there it was suburbs—hicks everywhere. Like 5,000 people in the school that I went to. It was crazy. I was so shook. I remember seeing two people kiss, and I was like, what are they doing?! Everyone was mean. But then moving to Montreal was amazing because I was so much more exposed to art, and a scene. It was really amazing for me. I felt so privileged and happy and grateful. Of course I miss Honduras a lot, but yeah.
One of the things that stands out to me is your style. What are your references?
I don’t know what my references are, just stuff I like. I didn’t study fashion or anything. I never took that seriously, but clothes are really beautiful. But also I shop at secondhand stores. I love how accessible that is, and I love changing my look every day. It’s kind of like my music—I’m a chameleon in that way.
Tell me about the Humo EP cover.
We were really inspired by Garbage and Britney for this EP. So the cover is actually the Garbage CD case, and then I just printed out a picture of myself and put it on top of the letters, and then I took a picture of it. I just love having full control over everything I do because that’s the fun part for me. And it’s really hard for me to work with people. I’m really a perfectionist when it comes to that, and it’s hard to work with people because they don’t get it.
“Humo” has a lot of streams.
It literally went viral because it was put in the New Music Friday playlist.
That’s amazing. What are you working on right now?
I have a new project that’s coming out in a couple months. My next EP is much more accessible and sexier. Humo was pre-pubescent princess and my next project is rebellious teenager. Working with the people involved was very exciting and natural.
How do you stay authentic?
I just do. And even if I’m not being authentic, I know I’m not being authentic. My lyrics aren’t always true, you know? They mostly are, like it’s mostly how I feel about love—obsessive, romantic. I can also create scenarios in my head and write about that. It doesn’t have to be real or authentic, but it’s more like storytelling.
What are you feeling inspired by lately?
I'm always inspired by everyday life.. Traveling, art, music, movies, my ridiculous sense of humor, storytelling. I have a vivid imagination and am lucky to be surrounded with people who stimulate that. I love creating stories through my art.
Did you have a valentine this year?
Yes I did, he keeps my head in the clouds and the gutter.
Why should people care about Isabella Lovestory?
I'm lucky to be in the position I am coming from Honduras where a lot of people don’t have these opportunities. I’m trying to make a name for myself in reggaeton which has been a male dominated genre. I believe it needs a good comeback in general. I want to make my upcoming project an inspiration for other people. I think the world could change a lot and I hope to create a distraction to help people stop their bullshit.