Liz Trujillo, Ashlee Valenzuela, and Sandra Calixto of Conexión Divina met somewhat recently, but chatting with them feels like being in the presence of three childhood best friends. The frequency with which they finish each other’s sentences would make you think they grew up with one another. But more importantly, they share that kind of once-in-a-lifetime connection brought on by serendipitous events that only you see in movies. Dialing in from their home base in Los Angeles, CA, for a video call with Remezcla, they huddle together on a sofa and recall how their all-women sierreño band came together this last year.
“Ashlee came up on my explore page, and I messaged her to ask about starting a group with girls, but she [lived] in Arizona at the time,” says Calixto, who originally hails from Dallas, TX. “Then literally after a month of talking to her, I moved out there. I was supposed to visit her, just to see how stuff went, but I ended up moving in with her.”
Once they settled in, Calixto and Valenzuela squeezed in as many jam sessions as possible. They shared snippets of songs they’d written on their respective instruments, bajoloche and requinto, before clocking in for their shifts at Subway and Wal-Mart. When the two stumbled across TikTok videos of Trujillo (who grew up in L.A.) singing and playing guitar, they quickly reached out and sent her some of the material they had written. After spending some time collaborating from afar, Calixto and Valenzuela eventually hopped on a Greyhound to meet with Trujillo in person and contemplated joining her permanently in Los Angeles.
“Cuando me toco a mi… I thought, ‘Oh no, now I have to move,’” Valenzuela says and laughs, “But Sandra was like, ‘Dude, we have to do it!’ We all hung out twice, and then [Sandra and I] moved here to L.A.”
Fast forward to the present, and Conexión Divina has unveiled their stunning debut record Tres Mundos, which features cameos from regional Mexican contemporaries like Los Aptos and Gabito Ballesteros. They’re also a few days out from playing the biggest show of their careers so far. This weekend, they’ll make their Coachella debut as one of the only 10 Latine acts on this year’s list and as one of the only two regional Mexican artists performing.
Regional Mexican music is often used as a catch-all term that covers a wide range of genres, from mariachi to the more rapid-paced Duranguense. But within recent years, younger artists such as Conexión Divina, Yahritza y Su Esencia, DannyLux, and Ivan Cornejo have revitalized sierreño, a subgenre within música Mexicana popularized by the late singer Ariel Camacho, by pairing its definitive six-string acoustic guitar, acoustic bass, and requinto-heavy formula with more lovelorn and melancholic lyrics.
Conexión Divina’s breakthrough track “Odio,” originally released as a single last fall, is a heart-wrenching lamentation over unrequited love as its narrator simultaneously yearns for her beloved to come around. The gripping tale showcased their natural talents as self-taught musicians and skilled songwriters.
“I feel like our generation is super sad and depressed about a lot of things, very sentimental. We’re good at expressing ourselves when it comes to everything. I think it’s helped all three of us to put in on a song and release it. It’s like a form of letting it go,” says Valenzuela. “I don’t like to write about superficial [things]. I like to write songs people can identify with and make people feel something.”
“I feel like our generation is super sad and depressed about a lot of things, very sentimental. We’re good at expressing ourselves when it comes to everything. I think it’s helped all three of us to put in on a song and release it.”
The towery ballads and earnest torch songs that pack Tres Mundos echo the all-encompassing highs and lows found in the music of Vicente Fernandez and Los Bukis, two artists that Trujillo says her mom often had playing in the background throughout her childhood. In “Delito,” Trujillo navigates the challenges that come with being in a relationship with a partner who is not yet out to her family as she illustrates the hurt that comes with having to conceal their affection. Then “Mi Soledad” finds Valenzuela grappling with an unshakeable sense of loneliness that left her feeling dejected upon her move to L.A.
Given how women are still largely underrepresented within the world of regional Mexican music, Calixto, Trujillo, and Valenzuela’s voices and their roles in bringing these narratives to life are just as important as the storytelling itself. Conexión Divina has been recognized as the world’s first all-women Gen Z sierreño group, a major win that is sure to change the trajectory of the genre in the long run, and Trujillo (who identifies as gay) and Valenzuela (who identifies as bisexual) are boosting LGBTQ representation within the regional Mexican scene. They’re also fiercely pro-women and practice every bit of what they preach, regularly encouraging girls to take up an instrument and write their own songs. Valenzuela and Trujillo nod in unison when Calixto says she hopes Conexión Divina will have a greater impact within música Mexicana.
“I feel like if there’s more of us, more women in the industry, we’d be able to have each other’s backs,” adds Trujillo. “If we could open the doors for other girls to be like, ‘I wanna do this too,’ keep building this up, and have more and more people coming in, it would be so revolutionary.”
Check out Conexión Divina’s Tres Mundos below.