Two years ago, Mexican songstress Vanessa Zamora released her debut album Hasta la Fantasía, which was met with immense critical acclaim. Her melancholic and yearning songs, like “Te Quiero Olvidar” and “Para Siempre,” earned her a seat at the table with fellow indie pop starlets Natalia Lafourcade and Carla Morrison. With a fresher take on acoustic love songs, audiences on both sides of the border embraced the Tijuana native’s “fine pop,” as she describes it, which led her to tour Mexico and even a few U.S. cities. It also opened doors to share the stage with Ximena Sariñana and a collaboration with Paulino Monroy.
While everyone delved into Zamora’s emotional lyrics and whimsical sound, little did we know that the big bay window into her psyche and life we thought we were facing was actually a mere keyhole. The subtle somberness in Hasta la Fantasía only scratched the surface of Zamora’s depression. Its lyrics pointed at the struggle of a broken and vulnerable person trying to get out of a hole. Even with her candid lyricism and newfound fame, she realized she was scared of being herself. Zamora calls it a crisis, although she realizes it was also the weird transition into womanhood. At 24 years young, Zamora carried herself on the opinions of others – especially that of her conservative family. Whether hiding her tattoos or the fact that her ex-boyfriend is gay, she veiled her true self and her experiences behind elusive lyrics and the shell of the person everyone else wanted her to be.
During the months she spent depressed, Zamora felt like she had died. Her motivation faded, but she still needed to express herself, even if it didn’t come easy or fast. She soon embarked on a journey to rediscovery, and while she’s not there yet, she’s close. Her new single “Nada Se Perdió” is the bridge between the wistful Vanessa of her debut album and the more mature and open version of herself we’ll witness with the upcoming release, due later this year.
True to her concept, “Nada Se Perdió” comes from the untold stories of Hasta la Fantasía, which she wasn’t ready to reveal two years ago. The new Vanessa, however, is fully ready to put herself out there. Even the music video is more jarring than her previous, simpler approaches. We spoke to Vanessa about her musical and personal growth and the release of “Nada Se Perdió.”
The video and lyrics for “Nada Se Perdió” are raw and honest. What do you want viewers to take away from it?
For this video, I wanted to show what happened to me. That a partner turned out to be gay and that they’re now happy. I want people to see that sometimes there are those who find their sexuality at the worst possible moment. I speak about my experience because I want people to know it happened to me and that when they watch it, they think, “Órale! There’s this video where a girl was with a guy and the guy turned out to be gay, but the girl accepts it because she knows he’ll be happy if he embraces his sexuality.” So it’s basically to send out a message that we have to accept everyone, and that sometimes people don’t realize their true sexuality until much later in life and it can be a living hell to pretend to be someone you’re not just to keep others happy.
Your lyrics have always been very personal, but this is the first time you’ve released a video this provocative. Why now and why with “Nada Se Perdió?”
When I first started making music, I was very insecure. I’ve been trying to find myself ever since I was little, because as you’re growing up, your parents, family, friends, or even life itself cram fears into you, and you lose your true essence. Two years ago, I was very depressed and I asked myself, “Is this the person I really am or am I what everyone else wants? Or am I a new being formed by the combination of all the good and bad advice people have given me?” I had to reflect on who I truly was, and I’ve been searching for myself all this time. And at this point in my life, I feel very free and I want to be as transparent as possible. This song was originally for the last album and I had it just sitting there, so I listened to it and realized that this reflected reality…It was very difficult for me to share my story, but I think now is the perfect time to do it because I feel like I’m finally finding myself. I’m an extrovert and I try not to fear life, but sometimes it’s difficult for me to face who I really am.
“I’m going to be myself, and if you don’t like it, no hay pedo.”
You said “Nada Se Perdió” marks the transition from the Vanessa in Hasta la Fantasía to the Vanessa from the upcoming album. What are you leaving behind and what are you experimenting with now?
On the first album, I didn’t dare say a lot of things. The lyrics are very honest because they’re personal, but I limited myself more. What I’m leaving behind is caring about what others think of me and not being able to be happy because of it…I’m trying to write more openly about my experiences with love, sexuality, and what’s going on in my mind overall…For example, I know my dad is going to freak out about the “Nada Se Perdió” video, and he probably won’t be able to watch it, but I don’t want to care about that. Because at the end of the day, it’s my life and my happiness, and it was something that was torturing me for the longest time. Some people might find this stupid, others might not, but I think most people have gone through something similar, and I don’t want to be like that anymore. I’m going to be myself, and if you don’t like it, no hay pedo.
How does your new outlook in life translate to the upcoming album and how is it turning out?
I’m already tracking the first song. In general, what I’ve been composing talks about being free. About letting yourself flow through life and not putting up any resistance. And as I let myself flow more like a river, it’s all worked out better…I think this record will show an evolution in my emotions and will be more mature and more sensual. I’m also producing this new record, which is something I didn’t do with the past one, so it’s also going to have a lot more of me musically…But I definitely want this to be an album that when you listen to it, you can reflect on contemporary issues. I’m still seeing which direction it’ll go, but I don’t want to point it somewhere. I just want to put out songs that are relevant to my current state of being.
“I try not to fear life, but sometimes it’s difficult for me to face who I really am.”
After a few shows in Mexico City, you are now headed to Texas for SXSW. What do you have in store for your showcases?
For starters, I’m super excited that I get to play SXSW because I wasn’t expecting it. I have three official showcases at the festival and I’ll be going on a mini-tour also. I’ll be playing Albuquerque, El Paso, Arizona, and Los Angeles. I’m only going with my drummer, so it’ll be a small and intimate set. Truth is, I’m going with no expectations, but I hope a lot of people to go to the shows and opportunities for the projects that arise.
Vanessa Zamora plays SXSW on Friday, March 18 and Saturday, March 19. Check out her showcase schedule here.