- Interview Nicki Nicole: 'It's cool to make music with women because that constant comparison and criticism doesn't exist anymore'
Alba Farelo dreamed of being a music superstar and continues taking steps to achieve it. The Catalan artist, widely known as Bad Gyal, aimed to become a diva in the style of Rihanna. She made her Catalan version debut in 2016 with her first single, Pai, which she recorded and uploaded in a rudimentary manner on YouTube. Nearly a decade later, after releasing several EPs and mixtapes, she's releasing La Joia, her debut album. It's a record faithful to her essence, blending festive rhythms like dancehall and reggaeton with lyrics about going out, drinking, smoking, and having a good time.
With collaborations from big names like Myke Towers, Anitta, or Ñengo Flow, the album reaffirms her status as one of the Spanish artists with the most international projection. Additionally, she's kicking off a tour across Spain, followed by stops in Mexico, Colombia, and the United States.
Q.La Joia is officially your debut album. What was important for you to showcase with this record?
A. More than showcasing, it was an opportunity to reach another level in terms of songwriting and developing my musical skills and visual aspects. I see it as a continuation of my career, a slightly higher stage where I affirm what I do.
Q. You've been working on it for two years. Was it challenging to bring it to fruition, especially after the main producer left the project?
A. Yes, it was tough. In the end, I ended up being the executive producer of the album. But I love it. I've always been bossy since birth, and I'm always ready to take on whatever role is necessary to make it happen. Plus, SHB, Merca Bae, Fakeguido, the producers I always work with in Barcelona, helped me a lot. It's very gratifying to see the result now.
Q. Did you find it challenging to assume that role as a woman in the industry? Have you ever felt like you weren't taken seriously?
A. Not at all. I feel like I'm taken very seriously, and I'm respected a lot. When I'm in the studio composing, I've always felt admiration from the people I work with.
Q. I ask because it's not always understood that a woman who presents herself as sexy can also be hardworking and serious about what she does.
A. Exactly. But I love looking good. Obviously, I'm not just a pretty face; I'm much more. Both aspects can coexist, and I think they fit together perfectly. What's more powerful than a woman who does what she wants and at the same time decides to be sexy? It's true that people sometimes believe they're not compatible, but for me, it's the perfect balance. Every woman is free to decide how to present herself, and this is my choice.
Q. How do you feel about your international projection?
A. I feel super satisfied. I feel like incredible opportunities are coming my way, I'm growing, I'm traveling, I'm being heard in more countries, and there are more fans of mine far from here. It's like a dream, and I'm very grateful for it, but at the same time, I'm ready to keep growing.
Q. Interest is growing, and with it, both positive and negative impact.
A. I always say this career is cyclical. As you grow, you encounter things you experienced at the beginning of your career. I'm used to new people knowing me and not accepting certain things or thinking what I do is weird or wrong. Eventually, some end up liking it, and others don't. It's part of the process.
Q. When you announced the sold-out of your first date at the WiZink [Center in Madrid], you did it with a message that said "I don't talk much, I just do" and a shushing emoji. Was it directed at something or someone?
A. No, but in the end, I'm a bit cocky, and I always feel surrounded by controversies and people's opinions. They tell me I don't deserve the position I'm in or that I'm an artist who's worthless. Well, look: I sell out the Wizink just like that. If you don't like it, start accepting that things are going great for me. People talk about whether artists with autotune or who shake their butt are real artists. Well, okay, I'm not. But I'm heading for the second sold out.
Q. Why do you think autotune or shaking your butt bothers some people?
A. I don't know. It bothers as much as it pleases, so I don't have an explanation.
Q. Have you ever considered changing to avoid that criticism?
A. Not at all. I've never considered not being myself. I'm not a product. I'm not an artist who can transform into something else and adapt. I do what I want. I evolve and change, but it all comes from me.
Q. That reminds me of the song with Nicki Nicole where you sing 'There's only one Bad Gyal.'
A. Because there's only one Bad Gyal. It would be hypocritical if I told you I don't consider myself original. I do consider myself. I think I'm original and unique.
Q. In 2016, you published your first song on YouTube in a rudimentary way. At that time, there weren't as many young artists releasing songs. Do you feel like you've grown as urban music in Spain has grown?
A. It's true that I was one of the first, although it's something organic that had to happen because it was also happening globally. It's normal that artists emerged here, and a scene developed. Still, I feel like there are few of us who have continued to maintain ourselves from the beginning.
Q. Your career has been slow but steady.
A. Yes, sometimes you wish things would happen sooner, but you have to appreciate that I've always been growing, and that's super positive. I'm very demanding, and I try to force myself to enjoy it more. But I'm not very focused on what others are doing. That pressure comes more from myself, from observing myself and seeing the things I want to improve.
Q. Urban music is mainstream now. People who perhaps never imagined it are already listening to your music.
A. I love that. The goal is to reach as many people as possible and for someone who doesn't understand it to like it anyway. I'm psyched that preppy girls listen to my music; in fact, they love it when I meet them. It's an honor. I feel like I'm transcending everything.
Q. Do you make music with the goal of transcending? Are you looking to mark an era?
A. No way. When I'm in the studio, I pour my heart out. I never bring anything prepared, and I go with the flow of what the track makes me feel. I don't go in with any intentions.
Q. I have to ask how you experienced the controversy of the dance-no dance with Rauw Alejandro.
A. For people, it was controversial, but I feel like he was in one mood on stage, and I was in another. Just that. The next day, there was another show, and we were celebrating. He and I are friends. I love him. He's a great guy and has always treated me very well. And his team too. But poor guy, he's under a lot of pressure, and they're on top of any move he makes. I already knew what would happen if I put my butt on that person, so I avoided it. But that's it. It wasn't personal. He knows it, and I know it.
Q. If you put your butt on someone, there's controversy, and if you don't, there is too.
A. Always. That's why you have to stay calm and not pay so much attention to what people perceive. In the end, they perceive what they feel, not something that comes from you. They love to make a fuss about everything.
Q. What did you think when you heard the song generated by Artificial Intelligence in which you sing with Bad Bunny? Did you like it?
A. I loved it. Yeah, I did. I think it's a cool song.
Q. But did you know it was created by AI?
A. No. It came up on TikTok; he had just released an album, and I, all naive, believed that Bad Bunny had mentioned me in a song. Poor thing.
Q. He clearly spoke out against it. What do you think about the entry of AIs into music?
A. I think it needs to be regulated and could be a composition tool to present ideas to artists. But I feel that if you're going to use the voice and identity of an artist, they should have something to say about it.
Q. A month ago, in an interview in Puerto Rico, you mentioned that you had stopped smoking joints and are becoming healthier. Do you think that lifestyle change could lead to a change in the lyrics of your songs?
A. I feel like I had a moment when I was like that, and obviously, I've gained a lot from having a healthier lifestyle. But I balance it out. When I've been behaving well for a long time, I go and misbehave. Today is Thursday, right? Well, tomorrow it's my turn to misbehave. I'm a wild one by nature. That will never change.
Q. Healthy, but not that much.
A. I'm healthy. Well, actually, I smoke almost a pack a day. These are things I'm not proud of and would like to work on. But I'm young, I love to party, and I want to enjoy my life. I'm successful. I deserve to enjoy it and let loose. If you knew my mother, you would understand. Sometimes she ends up going out partying with us, and I think: I know where my craziness comes from.
Q. In your beginnings, you mentioned that your parents didn't support your career. Do they now?
A. Yes. They support me a lot since they saw that I was focused on my project and taking it seriously. I understand that they wanted me to have a career. But hey, I have one. It's not academic, but another one that's also very good.
Q. I suppose they also see the external recognition.
A. Totally. And they congratulate me and feel proud.
Q. I understand that the album just came out, but where is your career heading? What's next?
A. I'm very clear about where I want to go and what sound I want to make. But I'm not going to say it. I'll keep it to myself.