Bedroom Pop in the Latinx Community by Paola Fernandez

Photos from Left to Right: Omar Apollo by Julian Burgueno (Entertainment), Cuco by June Canedo (The Last Magazine), Ambar Lucid (Rolling Stones). Edited by Paola Fernandez

Bedroom pop has exploded due to the digital age of the 21st century. It has opened doors to non-traditional faces to dominate music. Is bedroom pop the modern era for Latin identified individuals? Will it define a generation?

Bedroom pop has blossomed a new wave in the digital world. It combines an obscure blend of young adult romanticism and distorted beats that created the staple sound of the late Millennial and early Gen Z generations. It is do-it yourself computer generated production that has revamped the future of the music industry. Artists are recording, producing and promoting their records without the aid of a label company. They personally control every aspect of the creative process. Steve Lacy produced his 2017 debut demo EP titled “Steve Lacy’s Demo” solely on his iPhone using the app GarageBand. Lacy selects a simple drum loop and works his way around it. He records his vocals and records his own guitar riffs by plugging an irig cable onto his phone. His “Ryd/Dark Red” music video reached two million views in its 2017 release.

21-year-old singer Clairo’s sensational hit “Pretty Girl” was produced by using “a little keyboard” in her bedroom and recorded herself singing along to the lyrics. As of 2019 it had over forty-one million views on Youtube. Before Pretty Girl, Clairo gained a loyal following on SoundCloud.

Having full creative control allows innovative individuals to demonstrate their artistry. It brings more diversity to the industry. Musicians are allowed to portray their culture in their music instead of adhering to the standards of what sells through a record label.

First generation American Latinos like Cuco, Ambar Lucid, and Omar Apollo mix both Spanish and English in their performances. Ambar Lucid’s sophomore album “Garden of Lucid” (2020) track “Fantasmas” gives listeners a taste of both languages blending together to form a new form of communication. Throughout the song, the chorus and bridge have an even distribution of Spanish and English or “Spanglish” with lines like “How can I forget your presence/When having you around just isn’t so pleasant/Aqui nunca hay soledad/Mil fantasmas gritan a encalmar” and “Tu fantasma vive aqui/Why’d it take so long for you to see”. They form a complete thought instead of fragments of Spanish phrases scattered here and there. It does not sound forced and uncomfortable. There is no dependency on having a feature to sing the Spanish sections of the song. Lucid plays both roles. It is a reflection of her upbringing travelling back and forth from Dominican Republic and New Jersey. Even sonically, her haunting vocals are reminiscent of American staple Janis Joplin’s rock blues.

In Omar Apollo’s Apolonio (2020) track “Dos Uno Nueve (219)” he nods to Mexican style “corrido”. A Corrido is a Spanish ballad focused on storytelling. Traditional corridos can focus on a common event within Mexican culture or from the perspective of the singer. Modern corridos are focused on romantic relationships and its struggles. Apollo flips the script. His corrido is fast paced and sprinkles a little bit of English in the bridge. It mirrors Trap corridos where the lyrics are performed as a rap instead of a ballad and the beat moves along with the performer. California is the hub for the Trap corrido genre. Its buzz represents a deeper historical lineage of how interconnected the U.S and Mexican borders are. 

Cuco’s lyrical structure in “Drown” (2018) with Clairo is smooth and prideful. While Cuco and Clairo duet in English for the majority of the song, each artist has their own mini solo in each verse. Cuco dedicates his verse in Spanish. Like Lucid, the Spanish verse continues the dialogue in the song with Clairo. It goes with the flow rather than going against the current.

Language is part of culture and ties nationalities together. Being first generation, assimilating into a new culture is a difficult transitional phase. For Latinos in the U.S, English and Spanish have its own functions. Spanish is dominantly spoken in the home. English is for the outside world and is a representation of the newly adopted culture. In a 2017 PewResearch study, researchers found a recent slow decline of the Spanish language within Latinos. In 2006, 92 percent of Latinos spoke Spanish at home in South Florida In 2015, the number of Latinos speaking Spanish at home in South Florida dropped by 2 percent. In the Chicago metropolitan area, 84 percent of Latinos spoke Spanish at home as compared to 77 percent in 2015.

When individuals integrate into a new culture that is not their own, they have to give up certain aspects of their previous identity. Latinos speaking more English than Spanish is a product of transitioning. At times Latinos are pressured to pick between the two or are shamed for being bilingual. Cuco, Lucid and Apollo embrace both culture identities. They easily switch between the two languages as if it is second nature to them. There’s no hesitation.

Bedroom Pop is paving the way for a flux of musicians to come along and mark their spot in the music industry. Having full autonomy in the creation of their art allows more transparency. Audiences can detect when an artist is following the crowd. It shows in their creativity or lack thereof in their music. 

About the Author:

 Paola is a collector of all trades. She loves philosophy, music, design, writing, sociology. Living in Miami, she feels at home next to a palm tree and a couple of mojitos. As a Digital Communications/Sociology undergraduate, she incorporates her writing and design with sociological teachings. She is a big believer in duality and hopes to be a powerhouse in what she does. Instagram: @paology_

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