As I log into the Zoom meeting, I’m greeted by Princesa Alba’s team who informs me she’s running a bit behind because she’s a bit enfermita, or sick. Right after our chat concludes, the singer is heading straight to the doctor. So when she finally pops up on camera, naturally, I thank her for taking the call despite her current condition. “We know that us women have to be functional [at all times], even when we have uterus pain and all of that,” the 24-year-old says with a big smile, wearing a no-makeup makeup look and gleaming lip gloss. “I’m in a lot of pain, but oh well. I’m happy to be chatting with you.”
If there’s something that characterizes Princesa Alba, born Trinidad Valentina Riveros Inostroza in Chile, it’s her straightforwardness. Whether she’s letting you know her period cramps are kicking her ass or she’s releasing songs about masturbation and not putting up with men’s bullshit, she has no problem being assertive about her opinions. Her latest single, “narcisa,” a collaboration with Brazilian singer-songwriter Duda Beat, is all about self-love after a breakup—the overarching theme of her first full-album besitos, cuídate. “I think it’s one of the strongest songs on the album, one of the catchiest, and also it’s one that I’m the proudest of,” Princesa shares. “Because of the collaboration and its sound, I wanted it to be the first single after releasing the album.”
As the title suggests, besitos, cuídate embodies closing a cycle with a good attitude, carrying on despite not always feeling your best emotionally, and celebrating what really matters—yourself. It’s the end of a relationship, not life, and Princesa chronicles this journey throughout the 11 tracks on the LP. “Si ere’ mi ex, por algo e’/ Ahora estoy bien, mejor que ayer,” she sings in the album opener “besitos, cuídate.” But we’re human, we’re bound to have slip-ups and go back to the ex just to satiate an itch. “Pa’ quitarme la’ gana’, no ere’ nada especial/Para hacerlo esta noche, un encuentro casual/ Yo no te quiero de verdad, sólo te quiero usar,” she sings on “… amor sin amor.” She also has a couple of odes to her girlfriends—“oye amiga” and “pinky promise”—who are a crucial part of the post-breakup process. And because even bad bitches have feelings, acknowledging sadness but not letting it get the best of you, “lo siento” and “miss u bb,” is the best indication of being able to let go and not get wrapped up in a toxic situation.
Sonically, besitos, cuídate exists somewhere in the universe of early-aughts Darkchild productions and the global pop sphere that respects no genre boundaries. The album is truly an offspring of the Tumblr generation—a visual and musical scrapbook of everything she loves.
Remezcla caught up with Princesa Alba just after the release of her latest single “narcisa” to talk about it, the new album, being a pintamona, and stanning for Britney Spears.
This interview has been translated from Spanish and edited for clarity.
What can you tell me about “narcisa,” your collaboration with Brazilian singer Duda Beat?
The collaboration with Duda Beat is born out of my premise for collaborating with people I admire and am usually a fan of. I like making the first approach. So I remember I was sending messages to Duda [on Instagram] and she wouldn’t respond. I was like, “This song is too perfect [for her]!” I started to get so needy that I would upload a picture to my feed and tag her, like, “Listening to ‘Bixinho’.” From there we were able to link up with my team and it happened. I’m a big fan of hers, and I think we share a lot of aesthetic and musical references. I think we share the same universe, and for me, it was like finding a sister in another country and with another language.
It caught my attention that Duda Beat sang her verse in Portuguese. For example, now that Anitta is such a big star, she does lots of collabs in either English or Spanish. So for this song, how did the decision that she sings in Portuguese come about?
I remember we talked about it and I told her, “No, I never imagined you singing in Spanish.” I think Portuguese is really pretty. For me, the phonetics [of the language] are like poetry. And [as a Spanish speaker], you can understand a lot of it. And, yes, I wanted Duda to feel comfortable and maintain her natal language.
It definitely blended perfectly. As for the music video, it’s also very pretty: the color palette, the styling, the concept, everything. What can you tell me about shooting it, especially given that Duda wasn’t able to shoot with you?
I wanted to go shoot with Duda. I wanted to go to Brazil, it was my dream. But we couldn’t go because of the pandemic, because, well, we know Latin America is a little… And then there’s Bolsonaro in Brazil, and they have a bit of chaos with the vaccine, so it was like, “Ok Duda, come here to Chile.” But she couldn’t come either because the vaccine plan over there is delayed that Duda wasn’t [vaccinated] yet… Anyway, it was a whole problem. The idea was always: I’m a princess and the song talks about turning yourself into a goddess. So I wanted a realm that was a bit whimsical, medieval, in which we’d be the only queens of a type of cult. For this video, I had the opportunity to work with Bernardo Quesney, who is a film director from Chile that I like a lot. We began to figure out how we could bring both sceneries together because Chile is very dry compared to Brazil, which has more jungles. So it was difficult, but I think the result is very pretty and I’m very happy about it.
Going a bit into the mythology of the song, Aphrodite was the goddess of, among many things, beauty. But for this song and its music video, you take this figure we associate with narcissism. Can you go through your creative process when working on “narcisa?”
For me, “narcisa” is uplifting a concept of like an obsession with oneself, but in terms of rebelliousness, because [as women] we’re taught to hate ourselves when we’re growing up. [But] men can be proud of their work. [In Chile,] we say “creerse la muerte,” which is that they can think of themselves as deities and be very confident in themselves, and society won’t criticize them for it. But when a woman does it, [society] says, “Ah, what a narcisa (narcissist),” or “she’s so full of herself.” For example, when I was a kid, I liked to dance and make videos and be the center of attention, ser florerito de la mesa, which is looked down upon [in Chile]. All my life, I’ve been told, “Ay, que pintamona,” which means being very outgoing and extroverted, but in a bad way. I also lived many depressive episodes and eating disorders throughout my adolescence—I was always my own enemy. So now that I find myself on this other side where I’ve already been through these phases of enmity with my soul and body, I can now be my own best friend, and I find myself in a place of self-confidence and happiness. To me, it’s worthy of showing, and I believe that between making songs about being in love and obsessed with other people, I rather make songs about being obsessed with myself and loving myself, and being able to deliver this message of “you are enough.”
I love that. You mentioned earlier that one of the most rebellious acts a woman can do is to love herself. Given that besitos, cuídate is a post-breakup album, putting this quote into context, can you talk more about this? This idea of still being able to love yourself after a breakup, especially when many people lose themselves after one.
Yes, exactly. besitos, cuídate is an album that’s born after a breakup. But more than an ending, more than an album full of spite or suffering or sorrow, it’s the exact opposite. It’s like, “I ended this relationship and I realized that an entire universe in which I’m my own best lover exists, and I’m my own best company, and, in the end, I’m the only one that’s always gonna be there for myself.” And also my friends. So for me, more than a sad ending, it’s a happy ending because it’s this point where you leave behind a romantic love and you find self-love, and knowing that this type of love is just as valid and important, if not more.
Now that you mention friends, that’s something I really liked about the album. You’re following this narrative arc of how you’re processing the experience, and in this scenario, like in real life, it includes friends. We see it on “oye amiga,” “pinky promise,” and even “miss u bb,” which you wrote based on your friend’s experience. Why was it important for you to highlight friendship?
I’ve always thought that friendships are extensions of ourselves. It’s very common to say friends are chosen family. For me, friendships are another type of love that’s even more valid than romantic love. I wanted to pay homage to my friends that have always been there—which we know that, after a breakup, they’re the first ones there and they’ll always be there no matter what. I wanted [the songs] to be like chronicles of what I was feeling, and they’re extracts from my WhatsApp conversations, my diary… And after [the relationship is] done, I find myself and I realize that, well, I’ve always known my friends are there, but we know that in those moments of torment, they’re there despite that. It’s beautiful.
Going back to besitos, cuídate, I think it’s like the perfect pop album. There’s a little bit of everything. When you were working on it, what did you want to show sonically?
When I released “Convéncete” or “Mi Culpa” or “Ya No Quieres Quererme,” those songs I wrote them thinking they’re like my only child. But with this album, I wanted to create a story where the sounds were also part of it. Where they’d share synths, bass, percussion, and lyrics. I wanted to still do what I had been doing, this pop that’s sometimes reggaeton, sometimes dancehall, sometimes pure pop. I wanted to make an album that gave me creative freedom, too. For example, being able to use all the references I wanted. Like with Duda, I made a bossa nova, which I love, but it’s mixed with reggaeton and pop. In other songs, I include some house music. I wanted to make an album that defined me. And it was my first, so I had to give it my all.
Speaking of your references, I read that when you were younger, some of the artists you listened to included Britney Spears, the Spice Girls, and Julieta Venegas. How do you think they influenced you, your music, and the formation of your artistry?
Uff, they influenced everything. I listen to all kinds of music. And when I say all kinds I mean literally everything. And yes, when I was younger I grew up with those artists that were dominating the world, including them and Beyoncé. For me, they were obviously a reference of very strong women. I saw women that were very free, with respect to their bodies and sexuality. Well, now we realize that not so much. But I grew up with those women. I also love Kylie Minogue. And Julieta Venegas, I became her fan when I was 12 or 13, and also Miranda! I think those are the things that still resonate with me today.
Well just like Britney, you have your own song about self-pleasuring, “nasty.” What can you tell me about that song?
I want to start with this: When I premiered “nasty,” I made a questions box [on Instagram], and someone said, “Why are you saying masturbation is nasty?” It’s not nasty, it’s natural. I wanted to normalize it, like… I always call myself “perra” or “nasty” or “bitch,” and for me, that’s not something bad. I want to deconstruct those terms a bit, take away that connotation that they’ve always had and say, “It’s ok to be nasty.” I’ve always been very free with my sexuality, it’s never been taboo. This song is born of precisely this self-love, that I’m my own soulmate, that I don’t need another person to enjoy my sexuality. “nasty” is a very playful song, I wanted it to be played at parties. I wanted people to listen to it in more normal settings and realize, “Oh! I’m dancing to a song about masturbation.” The lyrics have a lot of feminism, but the new wave, and I’ve always been a fan of Ms Nina. I knew her from Tumblr back in 2013, 2014. I always thought she was so cool and incredible. And when I started making music, we were following the same model: she makes all her covers, her music videos, the music, the lyrics. Since I met her, I was like, “We have to work on something together, I want the song to be perfect.” So I took my time and I’m very happy with the collab.
Going off on this subject of having autonomy over our own bodies as women and knowing you’re a fan of hers, what’s your opinion on the #FreeBritney movement?
The #FreeBritney movement, I think [her case] is just a mirror of reality. For example, I was the type of kid that was totally immersed in the consumption of Britney. There was a new picture and it was like, “Ah! Search!” We were all a part of that, of that morbid curiosity that she evoked on people, good and bad. I was a fan and I loved her—I had the posters [on my walls]. But then we realized the hell she was living. Now we see that [thanks to] #FreeBritney, how important it is to be a self-determined woman. To make our own careers, that we’re leaders. I think that since the last 10 years we’re seeing fewer women that come out of that model from the ‘90s—a label would sign you and exploit you. They’d do whatever they wanted with you and you were a slave to your image, a slave to a model of consumerism. So yes, I’m glad we realized how wrong it is. It was very painful to watch the documentaries, to see how much she has suffered, and how she was criticized. It’s nice to see she’s now liberated from that, and how that’s marking a precedent so that future women in pop and women in the industry don’t have to fall in that scheme.
What’s next for you?
Short term, I’m working on more videos from besitos, cuídate. I’m also working on my live show, so I’m very happy. And obviously more music. We’re working a lot and I’m very, very happy.
Listen to besitos, cuídate below.