Ecuador-born and Minnesota-raised songstress Kablito is here to enchant you with her new EP Telenovela. The release of her first tracks signify the beginning of a promising career for the emerging young artist. With the combined influences of her origins, US pop-culture, and past heartbreaks, her artistic stylings bring all the drama, camp, and romance we'd expect from anything under the moniker Telenovela.
Flaunt sat down with Kablito for a short Q&A on her journey to becoming a singer-songwriter.
FLAUNT: You are from Ecuador and moved to Minnesota. Can you describe that transition? What inspiration did you take from such different places?
KABLITO: The transition was difficult for me mainly because I didn’t speak any English and the change of climate shocked my body– I went from South American warm 70 degree weather to -20 degree Midwest winters. Of course, one of the hardest things was leaving my family and friends. As a young 9th grader, it was pretty lonely at first: I didn’t know anyone else and the language barrier made that worse. But, despite this, I was really excited because I finally lived in the US.
Ever since I was little, I had an obsession with American pop culture and would spend hours and hours watching MTV & Disney Channel. I would sing along to Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, NSYNC, Avril Lavigne, No Doubt, Destiny’s Child, Michael Jackson, JLO, Spice Girls… basically anything 90s pop! Before moving to Minneapolis, I spent a little bit of time in the Bronx. I actually have this distinct memory of getting my nails done with my mom, going shopping, and driving through the Bronx blasting “I’m Real” and just feeling so cool. I was a religious girl back home so I remember thinking being American is so cool because you can be bad. That duality of good/bad, American/immigrant has deeply influenced me and and my music.
I also remember getting really homesick at times: to alleviate this I would listen to all these Spanish artists I grew up with on my MP3 player: Selena, Fey, Shakira, Natalia Lafourcade, Luis Miguel, Salserin, Servando y Florentino, all the classics.
These artists that reminded me of home, as well as artists that I heard on the local Minneapolis R&B station KMOJ, still continue to inspire and inform my music – in some ways, being away from home had me seek a deeper connection with this music.
Do you remember the first song you wrote? Was there a defining moment when you realized you wanted to pursue music?
K: Like a lot of good songs, my first real song was written after a bad breakup. I think it was sometime during my first year of college.
There was no real “defining moment” for me: I was always the type of kid that was writing songs in my head and wanted to be a singer like Selena. I would dress up and put on shows for my parents but it wasn’t until college that I decided to learn more about music and go to school for music composition.
Who are your biggest influences musically or otherwise? What do you draw inspiration from that might surprise people?
K: My influences are pretty fluid but right now I am very inspired by Rosalia. She’s a Spanish flamenco singer with an incredible voice making pop flamenco R&B music. She blends those styles so well, both musically and visually, through her videos– she’s truly amazing.
Right now I love going through Will Smith’s IG. He is low-key a motivational speaker and I’ve been a fan since Fresh Prince but recently I’m really into him. I’m generally inspired by people who don’t compromise their art for anything and do their thing regardless of their age, social status, or any circumstances that might make it harder to succeed. I love a hustler, a hard working person that chases their dreams.
How has your music evolved over the past few years? What stylistic changes have you made and why?
K: About five years ago, I was playing guitar making psychedelic pop rock music in a Minneapolis band then after that I moved to NYC and started making music on my own in a little studio space. I taught myself Ableton and would sit in my little studio cave for hours on end making whatever felt right at the time. That’s when I started playing around with my voice and just went full on electronic pop. I recently listened to some of those first demos I made back then and what I’m making now and it’s like night and day, two completely different worlds. I would say my new EP reflects my early Latin influences combined with the R&B Minneapolis sound I adopted.
How do you combine your South American heritage with the 80’s R&B pop production in your album?
K: This process of combining those genres felt very organic and not formulated. My producer on the album, Jesse Schuster, and I are both fans of 80’s R&B music so we drew inspiration from that naturally. The biggest decision for me was to fully submerge myself into my roots; to finally become the Latin artist I’ve always wanted to be by fully singing in Spanish.
Your EP Telenova is your first piece of work written entirely in Spanish. How did this theme develop? What do you hope listeners take from this album?
K: I wrote a song Telenovela back in NYC. The song was about a love relationship that was so dramatic and turbulent that it actually felt like a Telenovela! Around that same time, Netflix was airing some of my favorite novelas that I grew up with I went down a binging spiral and even re-watched some stuff on YouTube that had awful 288p quality, but it didn't matter 'cause I was hooked all over again. Then when I started writing for this EP, I realized that I could take that idea and make it the theme for the whole ep.
All the songs on the EP are love songs: something I know everyone can relate to and be like- “yah I’ve been there!” This EP is also for people that grew up like me, immigrants who grew up with those Telenovelas and are nostalgic about their early teenage years.
Many songs on your EP address challenges in relationships and romance such as “Puto Colchón,” and “Algo a Cambiado.” Are you drawing these ideas from personal experiences?
K: The ideas started with the Telenovela theme but I also draw from personal experiences as well as family and friend’s stories. The themes for all songs are themes that are experienced by most people in love relationships such as cheating, lying, infatuation, and falling in and out love. I always kept those themes in mind while writing the tracks but some of the songs are definitely more intimate to me then others. Puto Colchón is one of those songs that gets me every time I perform it because I can relate it to pretty much every long-term relationship I’ve been in. The song is about getting to a point in a relationship where the magic dies down and you are no longer satisfied and are left always wanting more so you ask yourself, do we keep trying this or is this it? This can be a bit sad, however – I am a strong believer that love can persist if you are dedicated and work at it.
What's next for Kablito? Both in the macro and micro sense of 'next'?
Right now, I’m writing and experimenting with lots of different producers, it’s a very exciting time because my sound keeps on evolving and growing. I recently started working with Ramona from Nite Jewel and it’s been revelatory to finally make music with a Latin female producer. She is really talented and her skills are helping me create music that highlights my vocals and lyrics: it feels very honest and special to strip back a bit to my voice. Another producer I’m excited to keep working with is Milkman: he’s a Mexican producer who is insanely talented at pop production but also at writing the catchiest melodies! Last but not least, I have made a couple of singles with producer Taylor Dexter who I love working with, he’s a skilled musician/producer that makes fire beats! Some of these songs should be coming out sometime before the end of the year.
Interview by: Collin Schreiber @collinpschreiber
Talent: Kablito @Kablito
Photographer: Kaleb Marshall @kalebmarshall
Stylist and Producer: Britton Litow @wanna__b
Hair: Chanel Croker at DNS Vision @dnsvision
Makeup: Tami Shirey at Atelier Managemeny @tksmakeup
Photo Assistant: Steven Hickey @stevenhickey