When Ileana Cabra Joglar, recognized professionally as iLe takes the stage at Brooklyn’s Public Records, it’s to a spherical of raucous applause and whistles—one thing the Puerto Rican singer-songwriter is little question used to by now. As one-third of the reggaeton group Calle 13, iLe toured together with her brothers, Eduardo Cabra Martinez and René Perez Joglar, acting at packed coliseums in Puerto Rico and arenas all over the world earlier than embarking on her personal solo career. With her debut album, “iLevitable,” she introduced her arrival as a solo artist in triumphant vogue—embracing her personal path and a sound impartial of the one she’d cultivated alongside her brothers whereas snagging herself the Grammy for finest Latin rock, city, or various album. Now, that path has led her to Public Records, the place earlier than an intimate crowd she preps to preview her third and possibly most personal album but, “Nacarile.”
“It took a while for me to work on this album. It was tough with everything going on around me. I was feeling very dispersed. I was feeling lost and confused.”
“It took a while for me to work on this album. It was tough with everything going on around me. I was feeling very dispersed. I was feeling lost and confused,” iLe says in a telephone interview with POPSUGAR. Given the challenges introduced by the pandemic and the present state of affairs in Puerto Rico, it isn’t onerous to think about why. In 2019, two years after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, iLe adopted up her critically-acclaimed debut with “Almadura,” a rousing name to motion that tapped into the frustration and angst of a folks bored with the corruption, incompetence, and hardships of a life lived in colonial limbo. As requires disgraced Governor Pedro Rosello to resign swept the island, iLe and her brothers—together with others like Bad Bunny, Ricky Martin, and Nicky Jam—have been essential voices in organizing and amplifying the voice of protesters on the frontlines whereas utilizing their artwork to ship a robust message to the Puerto Rican authorities.
But the adjustments introduced by the protests would show to be short-lived and with the pandemic, the ahead momentum wanted for change would all however come to a halt. ILe herself would solely play a handful of exhibits for “Almadura” earlier than being pressured to chop her tour brief and quarantine at dwelling—a transition that proved to be uncomfortable and stuffed with uncertainty, however finally, obligatory.
“I struggled a lot at the beginning because I was ignoring what I was feeling. But obviously, we were living through a crisis, not only with the pandemic but on the island socially. Not knowing what was going to happen next was very confusing. So I just tried to let everything out through music. It was a way of healing what I was going through.” For iLe, quarantine was a possibility to study to let go and never put a lot strain on herself—one thing that may appear simple in principle, however was far more troublesome in apply. On “iLevitable,” iLe labored with a complete of 78 of Puerto Rico’s finest musicians to laboriously craft a sound that paid homage to the island’s wealthy musical custom—even going as far as to combine the album utilizing analog strategies moderately than digital. With “Almadura,” the percussion-heavy focus allowed iLe to weaponize her anger and frustration in a extra explosive manner, leading to a extra inflexible melodic structure, and limiting her potential to experiment vocally. But with “Nacarile,” iLe has realized to simply let the music simply circulate.
“In this album, everything connected. The whole situation of feeling a little trapped made me confront more sides of myself, and all that translated into [musical] textures. Everything is more suspended.”
“In this album, everything connected. The whole situation of feeling a little trapped made me confront more sides of myself, and all that translated into [musical] textures. Everything is more suspended,” she shares. Even the title, “Nacarile,” speaks to iLe overcoming the uncertainty and doubt that plagued her over the course of quarantine. In Puerto Rican Spanish, “nacarile” roughly interprets to “no way!”
“I think it was my way of getting out of there. You know, I was so submerged in that feeling of uncertainty and there came a point where I just needed to acknowledge it and confront it,” she says. And on a cold Friday night time at Public Records, she’s able to do exactly that, previewing the album on the day of its launch for an intimate crowd. Backed by floaty textures and synth vibes, her brassy contralto resounds all through the modest space. If “iLevitable” was an ode to Puerto Rico’s storied previous and “Almadura” a rally for its future, “Nacarile” is a journey centered extra on the singer’s resilience than that of her environment. Over eleven songs, she navigates quite a lot of matters from poisonous like to gender dynamics and colonialism. And whereas she does so whereas inviting extra of her contemporaries to affix her than ever earlier than (the disc options the likes of Natalia Lafourcade, Mon Laferte, Ivy Queen, and extra), with “Nacarile,” iLe feels she has actually come into her personal. “I learned something new about myself,” she says.
Read on to study extra about iLe, her personal type, and what she misses most about her days as a member of Calle 13 days.
POPSUGAR: What’s the final film or collection you’ve got watched lately?
iLe: “House of Dragon.” I’m having fun with it. It’s entertaining.
POPSUGAR: What’s the final e book you learn?
iLe: I’m not a reader. So I feel it is most likely the “Unbearable Lightness Being” by Milan Kundera. But like, a few years in the past. [laughs]
POPSUGAR: Whose Album Are You Obsessing Over Right Now?
iLe: I have not been listening to entire albums lately simply because I’ve been so busy. I’m going to need to go to very old-fashioned. I used to be listening to Ismael Rivera “Traigo De Todo.” It’s an album that I hearken to incessantly in numerous contexts.
POPSUGAR: Who Are You Excited to See Win at This Year’s Latin Grammys?
iLe: I’m not likely positive who’s nominated, however clearly if my brothers Eduardo and René are, I would like them to win. [laughs]. If not them, then Jorge Drexler.
POPSUGAR: How would you describe your personal type?
iLe: I by no means know methods to describe it precisely. Maybe the best phrase is eclectic as a result of when you do not know methods to outline one thing you say eclectic. But I wish to play with textures. My pal and stylist, Daniela [Fabrizi], we have recognized one another since we have been seven years previous. We have a really lovely connection and I really like her work. She likes to discover so much with upcycled supplies and it has been very enjoyable. We do not simply see vogue as tendencies, we see it as an artwork kind, and we continue learning so much all through the method.
POPSUGAR: What ought to folks know in regards to the battle for Puerto Rican independence?
iLe: That [the island’s status] will not be a profit. It’s not a privilege. It’s an oppression. And that it is nonetheless onerous for us to grasp and see that as a result of it takes us to an uncomfortable and unhappy place. But I feel, little by little, we’ve got been understanding that and digging up extra data and attempting to reconnect our historical past with our actuality. And massive adjustments take time, so I do really feel hopeful that that day will come once we worth extra what we’re as a rustic and what we will do.
POPSUGAR: What do you miss most about your time with Calle 13?
iLe: What I miss essentially the most is touring with my brothers. I felt that because the starting after I began touring with my very own project, it was bizarre for me. I had spent ten years touring with my brothers and we had been so shut, in order that was the hardest transition. But we have had an opportunity to get collectively for some exhibits in order that has been cool.
Image Source: Eric Rojas