Growing up between the Dominican Republic and Italy, the 27-year-old rising singer is undoubtedly a powerhouse. With only five singles out, YENDRY has captivated audiences across the globe with her innovative style — and was even nominated for a MTV MIAW.
While simultaneously integrating Latin and European sounds, YENDRY invents a flow that is honest and refreshing. She tells empowering stories that both unveil truths about her upbringing and invite others to celebrate their own.
With the help of famed producer Federico Vindver and directed by Kieran Khan, her latest track titled “YA” embodies empowerment and self-confidence, while showcasing the captivating scenery of Colombia.
In an exclusive conversation, YENDRY takes us through her music journey, her latest single “YA,” and future plans.
What contributed to your musical journey?
In my family, music has always been a big thing in the house, and that’s how we used to enjoy our weekends, whether we’re going on a family trip or cleaning up the house on the weekend. I’ve always been surrounded by music, but no one in my family is an artist or has done music.
I started singing for myself at first in my room and doing covers. At some point, I just got the courage to sing in front of other people.
When I told my parents I wanted to sing, it was weird but at the same time, I think they expected it because they didn’t push me too much into it. My mom is super direct – she doesn’t really tell you you’re good at something if you’re not. But she told me if I could do it, it would be amazing because people always ask you to sing and this means something, it means that your voice provokes something in people.
They don’t really know what I’m doing, honestly, because they have never been in the music industry so everything’s super new for them. They’re proud but since I’m away from home, they don’t really understand a lot of what I’m doing.
What are some of your biggest inspirations, and if you had to choose, do you have a dream collaborator in mind?
I’ve always been inspired by a lot of women in the industry. I grew up listening to Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, and Ella Fitzgerald. I also listen to a lot of new wave artists like Nathy Peluso. So, I’ve always been really inspired by women that give me goosebumps when I listen to them or see them on stage.
My dream collab would be Frank Ocean, because I’m a big fan of his music since before he was releasing stuff, like when he only had stuff on YouTube.
It was recently the one year anniversary of one of your most popular tracks “Nena!” How has that song changed the trajectory of your career?
When I first made the song, I thought, “Okay, I don’t know if the song is strong enough, but I really feel something for the song.”
The song is my story about me and my mom. She left me in Dominican Republic when I was three years old and she went to Italy. She came back to take me to Italy after one year, and she told me that year of her life was the worst one. She told me what she went through emotionally.
I thought about a lot of women that are actually doing the same thing for many years. They’re losing some moments of their kids growing up, but they’re making a sacrifice. So it’s a really important song for me. Even the way I sing it, it came out really naturally and I think that’s why people relate to the song so much — because it’s about immigrant people.
I saw the music video and listened to the song and it really does evoke a lot of deep emotions. Even though I can’t personally relate to your story in particular, I know my relationship with my mom and what sacrifices she made. I think the fact that your song is able to inspire so many different people and in different ways is incredible.
I love that. I feel like the new generation needs to be more grateful for that, you know? Because now, we have a choice but it’s something that, for example, my parents didn’t have. They didn’t have the choice to just go to school because they had to work for their family and they had to contribute somehow. So it’s something that we need to be grateful for.
What’s been some of your most memorable moments throughout this journey so far?
The COLORS video was a very huge thing for me because I’m a big fan of the platform. When they asked me, I only had two songs out and I thought [this opportunity] was coming later, but it’s here now. Just going there, everyone was amazing. The big green room is like a temple, and you hear yourself perfectly because the guys are dope with the sound. It was a really good experience.
Another one is when I filmed Se Acabó in the Dominican Republic — and everybody in the neighborhood was helping so much, especially because of COVID. When we finished, I cried because almost my entire family was there. Just the emotion of creating something and people helping you and recognizing your job was amazing.
I know that you’re Dominican and Italian, and your multicultural background heavily influences the sounds and visuals for your music. In addition, your songs are mostly, if not all in Spanish. How important is it for you to incorporate these aspects into your music?
At some point, I told myself that I was going to really work on myself and put part of me in what I create because that’s the most direct way to get to people – they really connect with you if you’re true. Also, growing up between two different cultures has been kind of hard for me at the start. Once I embraced them, everything worked so well so I really want to send this message to everyone to embrace your roots.
Do you plan to release a song in Italian as well one day?
For now, I don’t have songs in Italian because I’m still in the process of finding my voice in Italian. When I sing in Italian, even if people are hyped about it like, “Oh, yeah, that sounds good” .. I’m like “No I need to like it” because otherwise, I’m going to be on the stage and that’s going to be hard for me, if I’m not feeling it. But obviously, one of my goals is to play at Coachella and be able to sing a song in Spanish, English, and Italian without any limits.
You recently released your new single “YA,” and I read that “YA” is centered around the theme of empowerment and self-confidence. Could you elaborate on how this song came to be? What does empowerment look like for you?
With “YA,” I felt so much freedom when singing it and in that moment, I felt that I needed to put out that confidence that I have, even though all of us struggle at times. The song is about trying to help yourself, because nobody can really help you if you don’t help yourself. But then, it turns into [a collaboration] because that’s the key to get things done. You need to start with yourself to do something, but then having multiple people creating something and working on the same project is what really makes it. That’s what music is all about as well, there’s always a team behind it.
I love that response because you mention that empowerment and self-confidence isn’t just about you, but it also stems from other people. We all need each other essentially.
Yeah, exactly. That’s what humanity is about. That’s why we created cities. That’s why we go out together. And that’s why if you think about it, most activities are done with other people because we are social animals. That’s how we get things done.
Your recent music video “YA” was shot in Colombia. Could you talk about the inspiration behind the visuals and why you chose Colombia in particular? What made you choose to film at the Rio Cauca and the Andes mountains?
I was in Colombia at the time and that place gave me so much inspiration. So I was like, “Okay, Medellín is giving me this vibe. Let’s shoot the video here.”
We worked with a Colombian team for everything, and we needed to find locations, but needed to be aware of the restrictions for COVID. Colombia has a lot of nature and [Medellín] is really great as a city. It looks like they’ve built a city inside the jungle. I really wanted to showcase the country as much in nature as we could. I just wanted the video to feel organic.
You also got to collaborate with producer Federico Vindver and director Kieran Khan! What was it like to work alongside them?
I did this song with Federico Vindver, who is an amazing producer. He works for Timberland, Kanye West, Coldplay and Justin Timberlake. He’s also Argentine and American, so he really understood my concept of being in between two different worlds. He showed me this beat and the way I vibed with it was really powerful. I think people are not used to my voice in this way because they’re used to the sweetness of “Nena.”
What were your favorite moments while filming “YA”?
Because of the COVID lockdown in Medellín, we had to do everything in one day. The whole team was amazing because we did everything super quickly. At the same time, we were enjoying it, and what I love about videos is that you always have a vision. You get to see it come to life and I just love the process and to see videos when they’re finished.
I also read that you’ve been doing music workshops for Topo Art Medellín in Colombia as well. What made you decide to help out and what’s your experience been like so far?
When we were in Colombia, I visited Comuna 13, which is a neighborhood that they’re trying to improve for tourists and for their own economy. I met this artist named Topo and he told me that he was organizing workshops for kids every Wednesday. The workshops are just about giving kids confidence and they meet new people coming from the outside and seeing what people are doing, like trying to achieve their dreams.
I don’t have a big platform, but I wanted to film a documentary with my team so people understand the story and help in some way. It’s not only about money, but they need a space to do the workshops, and they need equipment like microphones and speakers. The workshops also give these kids different opportunities, like taking them to the cinema, cutting their hair, and just doing things that they usually couldn’t do. It seemed amazing and I really wanted to be part of it. I only went once because I was there for one week, but I really want to go back and help them.
What can we expect next from YENDRY? Any upcoming projects in the near future?
I’m working on a new album and I really want to put out a body of work so people can know me a little bit more and I can experiment. If I had an album, people would see that this is me, you know? I have a lot of collaborations coming up, including one with Damian Marley. And there’s gonna be some concerts as well with my first one being in August in Brooklyn!
To keep up to date with YENDRY, follow her on Instagram to stay tuned @yendry!