EL PAÍS speaks with Jennifer Juárez, a singer-songwriter who seeks to break the clichés of music produced in a State generally associated with ‘narcoculture’
Jennifer Abigail Juárez, better known by the stage name Ella Bratty, began making songs at the age of 15. She did it all by herself; First she wrote poems, then she composed music, and then she looked for a way to combine the two things. She recorded her pieces and organized her concerts in bars, gardens and parking lots in her native Culiacán, the capital of the State of Sinaloa (Mexico). Over time, her music began to go viral on social media, and as the numbers grew and grew, her solo career accelerated dramatically, something especially complicated for an alternative music singer in a state whose production is dominated by corridos and the northern genre. From one moment to the next, she already had an EP and managed to sell out the venues where she played. This 2023, Bratty, now 22 years old, will be the only Mexican artist to perform at the Coachella festival, on April 15 and 22 in the Californian city of Indio (USA).
The covid-19 pandemic was a before and after in Bratty’s life. As her career was on a steep climb, there was a sudden global lockdown that transformed, at least momentarily, the world of music. Just one day before the health authorities declared a national quarantine in Mexico, the Sinaloan had performed at the Vive Latino festival in Mexico City before hundreds of spectators. Unlike what happened to other artists, the isolation due to the coronavirus was not a dead stop for her, since in this period thousands of people approached to her music: “It was a very strange moment. It was like everyone was cooped up at home, but I noticed that a lot of people were discovering my music on the internet. I think it was a stage of reconciling with ourselves and seeing what we did like and what we didn’t. For me that was very strange, because I saw that the numbers were growing, but in the end, I could not witness it with my eyes”, Bratty explained in an interview with EL PAÍS.
In full quarantine, the Sinaloan signed a contract with Universal Music (she was the first artist that the label hired by video call) and released her first LP, TDBN. Normality partially returned at the end of 2021, and Bratty began a tour that led her to perform in different cities in Mexico and Spain. This was the first time that she Bratty left the country, and it was thanks to these concerts that she managed to forge several collaborations with artists such as the Madrid band Hinds and the Catalan composer Carlos Sadness. However, the grand prize would come on January 10, when the addition of Bratty to the poster for the twenty-second edition of the Coachella festival was announced, something that she has described as a dream come true: “I feel like it’s going to be a defining moment in my career. The fact of being a Mexican girl who is going to be at Coachella has brought to me the interest of different media and thousands of people. It is something that I never would have thought would happen to me”, the artist has recounted. For this edition of the festival, the Sinaloan artist shares the billboard with world-class artists such as Rosalía, Bad Bunny or Björk.
Pop made in Sinaloa
Achieving a privileged place in Mexican pop was difficult for her to overcome the barriers imposed by musical production in Sinaloa, mostly oriented towards corridos and the norteño genre. Bratty is part of a generation of Sinaloan composers who seek to expand the scene in the State. The absence of specialized forums in which new artists can present their projects forces Sinaloan musicians to figure out how to offer concerts and play their songs. This is how Bratty explains it: “Everyone has to get their spaces; Give presentations anywhere you can. I started like that, playing in restaurants, patios and parking lots. No more than 20 or 30 pesos is charged for a ticket for these concerts. It is something that has to be done in the community, always looking for the support of other bands”. An essential part of the young artist’s first achievements was not being satisfied with playing only in Culiacán. With her own means, Bratty managed to organize concerts in the neighboring cities of Mazatlán and Los Mochis, and on the border city of Mexicali. She began to gain a good reputation in the northwest of the country, and with the help of social networks, her career began to bear fruit.
Bratty’s music, generally associated with Bedroom pop and Garage, is far from the allegorical clichés of drug trafficking with which she is usually associated with the State of Sinaloa. And that’s just what she was looking for with his pieces, dispel the idea that all the art that is born in the entity belongs to drug culture. “I usually try to highlight the best things that arise in the State. There are very good projects that do not receive enough support, and I think we need to focus more on them. Not because the culture of drug trafficking is very present in the entity, we all fit into that cliché. There are many things to change in Sinaloa”, the artist has expressed.
Source: El Pais