Née: Andreina Hiraldo
Raíces: St. Croix-born and Dominican Republic-raised
Sounds like: Bachata roots, pero with new flow and a woman’s touch.
You should listen to Andre Veloz because: Her femme, carefree spirit inspires fans to be whoever they want to be.
Hailing from el Caribe and based in the Bronx, Andre Veloz can make the dread of cold city nights feel just a bit more bearable — and fun. She’s one of very few women in bachata, and sings with the talent and conviction that make her stand out in a genre that continues to be confined by convention. It is this talent, coupled with her untamable wit, that birthed her single “Eta Que Ta’ Aquí,” which has taken over the Dominican internet.
“What motivates me is the conviction that I have,” she told Remezcla in an interview. “This is what I like doing, and I’m not gonna do una otra vaina that I don’t like.”
“Eta Que Ta’ Aquí,” which was written by Lenino and Andre Veloz, produced by John Chapman & Andre Veloz, with instruments and additional production by Dery Gracito, has turned into an anthem for Dominicans in New York staying in during the winter, and for older and newer fans in the DR who are showing their support by sharing funny clips of people dancing to it on Instagram. Versions of the song have even reached the ultimate form of virality: WhatsApp groups.
Uncompromising about her art and her work, she has been slowly building her career as an independent artist by boosting her presence on social media with old school bachata covers. They’ve gotten coverage on the popular Dominican site Remolacha, and she’s also performed at events across different college campuses, with frequent appearances at Uptown venues. With a solid social media fanbase, and a loyal Uptown following, Andre considers herself a unicorn.
“I am a bachata unicorn, el unicornio de la bachata,” she says, “And I always say that; people think we don’t exist, but we do…I’m fucking magical. And I work like a burro. I look like a horse, but I work like a burro, a unicorn.”
Veloz has gotten younger audiences excited about bacharengue or merenchata, which was popular in the 90s. In the age of Spanish-language trap, dembow, and even fusions where bachata is combined with newer rhythms, it is rare to see a traditional sound like bacharengue go viral. The genre contributed to the growth of artists like Antony Santos, whose raw and emotional lyrics tackle everything from heartaches to stomachaches.
But the genre seldom reflected a woman’s personal experience. “Eta Que Ta’ Aquí” does, while still maintaining its universality. It is about the decision to stay home and do nothing — about staying in, drinking tea – something that so many can relate to, from the older audiences who hold onto 80s and 90s nostalgia, to younger generations.
From television anchors in the Dominican Republic, to New York’s 97.9 El Vacilón team, the song has been posted by pretty much every Dominican social media personality you can imagine. She even got Taye Diggs to sing along with her at an event.
“It’s silly; it’s goofy,” she says. “I do have other serious songs but the world has enough of that shit.”
Even within the genre of bachata, Veloz’s performances vary, ranging from bacharengue tracks like “Eta Que Ta Aquí,” to bachata jazz fusions and covers of English classics like “Hotel California.” One day she’ll perform with her hair in an extravagant ‘do, sporting a tutu and popping pink lipstick, and the next she’ll be makeup-free, wearing nothing but a graphic T-shirt and jeans. Her authenticity lies precisely in the reality that she cannot be boxed in. Regardless of what style she’s performing, or how she’s dressed, her voice and talent are ultimately what take center stage. Dominican women are often pressured to change their appearances and enhance their bodies to make it in the music industry, but Veloz refuses to make any changes that aren’t dictated by her.
“I hope there’s a #MeToo movement for Latin music, or at least like an inclusion movement, because bachata is a boy’s club.” She says, “They say ‘you’re using the woman’s card,’ but it’s not a card to play; women have to work three times harder [in this field] to be taken seriously.”
But Andre is relentless – whether it’s about making it in a man’s world, or telling someone that “eta que ta aquí” is not into you. In a society riddled with economic inequality, where boasting about club nights, spending money, and extravagant activities can feel like the only source of empowerment, “Eta Que Ta’ Aquí” is a humble yet potent celebration of the banal things in life. Andre Veloz is indeed a unicorn.
Veloz is set to release her EP in April.