Emilia: 'Coming from where I come from, with limited resources, becoming a singer was a huge achievement'


The Argentine pop princess, raised in a family of bakers, presents her sophomore album '.mp3', an ode to the sounds of the 2000s

Argentine singer-songwriter Emilia Mernes.
Argentine singer-songwriter Emilia Mernes.SONY MUSIC

At just 27, Argentine singer-songwriter Emilia Mernes —known mononymously as Emilia— is scaling charts across continents with her mischievous yet sensual urban pop hits. With a whopping 15 million monthly listeners on Spotify, her funk carioca track No_se_ve.mp3 has been a constant feature in the charts across Europe, North and South America since its release in summer, and her latest single, La original, amassed over seven million plays in just one week. These numbers make her feel "more empowered than ever," especially after her win at the LOS40 Music Awards for Best Latin Collaboration.

"Since I arrived in Spain, I haven't slept at all. So much has been happening. Being able to attend the LOS40 Music Awards in Madrid was an incredible experience. The energy from the Spanish fans is electric; at times, their cheers and singing drown out my own voice. It blows my mind. I'm from a small city in Argentina... I could never have imagined that this would be my life one day. It's pretty overwhelming," she shares with EL MUNDO during a promotional tour for her new album, .mp3.

"I just released .mp3, an album inspired by that '2000s sound' that we all know and love (the .mp3 styling of each track is a nod to her Y2K-inspired aesthetic). I was born in 1996, but I grew up glued to MTV in the 2000s. I was obsessed with watching all the big divas' music videos: Beyoncé, Nelly Furtado, Gwen Stefani, Fergie, Pink... They've all been huge inspirations to me because the noughties were the golden age of pop music. That's why I wanted to revive that vibe. Many of my followers didn't even know what an MP3 was, so introducing them to it was really cool," she explains.

Emilia describes .mp3 as a melting pot of genres. "There's everything from ballads and hip-hop tracks to dance tunes and empowering anthems. There's one track, Facts.mp3, where I talk about what I demand of myself to make my projects happen," she reveals. The artist believes there are few performers as self-demanding as she is. However, the pressure she puts on herself doesn't make her proud of her work. "I'm unbearable. I'm very hard on myself and micro-analyze every last detail. I trust my team, but delegating is tough for me," she admits.

"It's something that I'm working on in therapy. And therapy has saved my life, as have my loved ones, of course. I seek refuge in the people I hold nearest and dearest: my family, my friends, and my partner. It's vital for me to surround myself with people who speak the truth than those who just say 'you're doing great,'" the singer explains about her mental health journey, which began after receiving online abuse. "Social media has fueled many insecurities in me. I used to internalize a lot of negative comments," she reveals.

Despite all of this, she's currently at her best. "Today, I feel confident, and I try to convey that to my audience. There are songs that make you think 'I can conquer the world.' And I want to do that too. When I say I feel powerful in a song, it's not about arrogance; it's about expressing it. And I think this attitude has resonated with my fans. They tell me they connect with my songs, not just the empowering ones but also the vulnerable ones, like my track Guerrero.mp3," she emphasizes.

In Guerrero, Emilia talks about her father's cancer battle. "One of my biggest fears is losing him. Writing about it was tough, but it allowed me to vent. This is my gift to him and my family," she explains, before revealing more about her upbringing. "My grandpa was a musician and plumber, but everyone else in the family are bakers. So, I grew up surrounded by bread, croissants, and cakes. To put it in perspective, my dad has 13 siblings, all bakers. So, the saying 'there was never a shortage of bread at my house' couldn't be more true," she chuckles.

When she finished school, Emilia decided to study Literature. After a few months, she realized her destiny lay elsewhere. "I hated it, so I decided to follow my dreams and study Music. It was hard for me to tell my parents because I knew they struggled to support me financially, but I prioritized my happiness. The news took them by surprise, and I had to promise that I would work hard, learn sheet music and take up instruments. I was willing to do anything to be able to make a living singing, but I never thought I'd come this far," she admits.

"Truth be told, coming from where I come from, with limited resources, becoming a singer was a huge achievement. Being part of a band like Rombai taught me a lot about the profession and gave me a platform to hone my skills before I ventured out as a solo artist. It's been a dream, but I still have more to achieve. That's why I always say I'm at 80%, because I can still achieve more. And I will, because I'm that demanding of myself. I'm constantly striving to improve, learn, and adapt because music evolves, and I evolve with it," she concludes.

Read the original interview in Spanish here.