This year’s Made In America festival just keeps getting better and better. Last month, Lizzo, Lil Uzi Vert, and more were added to the already stacked lineup. The festival has now announced that Barcelona based artist, Rosalía, is set to perform as well, and her futuristic take on flamenco is not to be missed. The eighth installment of the festival will take place at Benjamin Franklin Parkway on August 31st and September 1st.
Since learning to play the guitar at age nine, Rosalía has just been expanding her musical knowledge and abilities. Born and raised in Sant Esteve Sesrovires, just outside Barcelona, she took to flamenco music as an early teen. Under the guidance of José Miguel “El Chiqui” Vizcaya, she learned piano and how to properly sing in the genre. She started her career singing in small flamenco clubs and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in flamenco vocal performance at Barcelona’s L’Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya.
In 2017, Rosalía released her debut album Los ángeles in collaboration with Raül Refree. The album is a traditional flamenco record, complete with acoustic guitar and Rosalía’s enchanting voice. In its sparseness, Rosalía is able to explore the vocal traditions already present in flamenco and begin to toy with the genre’s limitations. Following its release and widespread acclaim among Spanish critics, rather than continuing to make bare-bones flamenco, Rosalía changed course and embraced electronic music.
The fruit of her sonic shift is last year’s El Mal Querer, one of The Key’s favorite albums of 2018. The album is an experimental hybrid of traditional flamenco tropes and electronic music. Rosalía produced the record alongside El Guincho, who is known both for his solo work and work with artists like Björk and Bad Gyal. With each track acting like a different chapter, the album mirrors the 13th century novel Flamenca. Both the novel and the record detail the experience of a woman locked in a tower by her jealous husband. The album serves as an expansion of Rosalía’s university thesis and a bold revitalization of a centuries-old genre.
El Mal Querer‘s lead single, “Malamente” made Rosalía a global phenomenon. The video, which features allusions to Spain’s bullfighting tradition, spread like wildfire. All around the globe, Rosalía had people clapping their hands and chanting “tra tra.” “Pienso En Tu Mirá”, the album’s second single, doubled down on Rosalía’s experimental approach to the genre. Later singles, “Di Mi Nombre” and “Bagdad” showcased her ability to draw inspiration from contemporary pop music; the former takes its name from Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” while the latter interpolates Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River.” Elsewhere on the album, Rosalía samples motorcycle engines and sword swooshes. Somehow she manages to keep this mess of inspirations and soundscapes sounding crisp and magical.
In the year since the “Malamente”‘s release Rosalía has earned cosigns from nearly everyone in the music industry and has been spotted in the studio with the likes of Pharrell, Arca, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Billie Eilish. She featured on the Game of Thrones soundtrack and on the serene “Barefoot in the Park” off James Blake’s latest album, Assume Form. Festivals worldwide have been booking her, and she has wowed each and every crowd. With her set at Made In America, Philly will get a chance to by mesmerized by her incredible dancing and genre-bending music.
Rosalía has not gone without her criticism however. People have questioned her use of gitano imagery and language. Extensive Twitter threads and think-pieces detailed people’s concerns of Rosalía’s use of gitano symbols. In a recent interview with The Fader, Rosalía revealed that she has tasked herself with studying gitano culture more acutely. Additionally, she has acknowledged that she has been afforded more resources and privilege than the gitano community. She has also collaborated extensively with gitano artists — Los Mellis de Huelva provided hand claps across El Mal Querer.
In the months after El Mal Querer‘s release, Rosalía has shared two new singles that show her further exploring the boundaries of flamenco. “Con Altura,” a collaboration with J Balvin, is nearly a complete departure from flamenco. The track leans more heavily on reggeton traditions, though it is not without flamenco-inspired hand claps. The latest single, “Aute Cuture” is a club-ready kissoff to the high fashion world. In its Tarantino-esque video, Rosalía and her “beauty gang” don terrifyingly ornate and long nails. Her ability to blend extravagance and grittiness in the video highlights her ability to unite any seemingly-opposed things. Give Rosalía tuna fish and Oreos and she’d be able to make something delicious.
Find tickets and more information about Made In America here.
Listen to El Mal Querer below.
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