Ileana Mercedes Cabra Joglar also known as iLe has music in her blood. The Bolero songstress got her start in Calle 13, alongside older brothers Residente and Visitante. After touring the world and making history – it was time for her to step out on her own. “It was different for me to be in the center of everything and making my own decisions for my own project,” she tells HOLA! USA. “It was like, at the beginning, I didn’t know exactly what was going on. I was just trying to explain my ideas, what I had in mind, and also figuring them out in the process.”
“I’ve learned a lot, especially in the recording process. Every detail, every sound, every little thing. They can make me crazy, but at the same time it’s very fascinating to keep learning so much things. And it’s infinite, the possibilities are infinite.”
On Grammy award and two album’s later, iLe’s recent success is bigger than the accolades. “For me, the biggest goal is just releasing everything. Not only the release itself of the album, but also releasing onstage and having that connection,” she says. “For me, that’s amazing. The feeling is great. The other things that happen are incredible, but I don’t work for that. It’s just something that surprises me. I feel grateful about it and I know that in some way it helps for the project to keep growing, but I don’t depend on it.”
In this edition of New, Now Latinx, iLe talks to HOLA! USA about finding success on her own, her badass single En Cantos with Natalia Lafourcade and what’s next!
HOLA! USA: Who is iLe?
“I grew up listening to a lot of different music and in my house we were, I come from a big family, so I was used to listening. I’m the little one from the house where we grew up in, so I was used to listening to my dad’s music and my mom’s music, my brothers and sisters music and I absorbed all that. It was a mix of different things, of jazz, rock, trova music, but I think the main thing was always more Caribbean music; salsa, bolero.”
Is it safe to say that is what inspires your sound?
“I can listen to other types of music, it depends on the mood and everything, but I mean, I almost all the time listen to at least one Salsa song or a Bolero. It’s something that, it makes me feel good every time I listen to it. So, for me, that’s my main go to music, but at the same time I like to discover new music all the time from different countries. And I think that part may be, is from my dad. He always likes to find the origin of things. Sometimes he listens to a song and then he does research and he discovered that that song is from, For me it’s very enjoyable also to keep digging through music and where it comes from.”
After 10 years of sharing the stage with your brothers in Calle 13, why did you decide to step out on your own?
“I knew that I was going to be in music somehow, but I never thought it was going to be singing and I never thought I was wanting to be touring with my brothers. We never thought about that, ever. It was very intense years because it kept growing so fast. And it was a weird but good feeling. Naturally the group wanted to explore different things on their own. I took that opportunity to see if I wanted to do also something on my own. Even though my brothers, they always said that I was going to do it.”
Where there some nerves?
“I was very worried at the beginning, thinking about the worst that could happen. But then when I started, every time that I do it I feel better and I keep growing and I keep learning so many things that I enjoy a lot. I feel grateful that life took me to those paths that I never imagined. And they took me where I am now.”
Your latest single En Cantos with Natalia Lafourcade was inspired by a local pun, but what does it really mean to you?
“It speaks about the special connections that we go through sometimes with people or figures that we create in our minds, and we idealize. We turn them into something almost divine, and we want to feel closer to that energy or to that figure that in some way represents something about us that we might think we’re lacking or something. But it’s a very strong, energetic feeling that we don’t know exactly where it comes from, but it’s so passionate that we’ll try to touch it or try to smell it or try to taste it.”
The video is dark and beautiful, what inspired that concept?
“That’s how the video idea came up afterwards, because of that energetic and powerful feeling. And then that’s when the barbershop, came up. We go, little by little, taking parts with when are grooming him and cutting his hair and everything. We put that into one place and then make a drink out of it. And some of the girls, they didn’t like the taste, but some of us did. It’s interesting, as in life, maybe we get so close to this figure that then we realize that it’s not as big as we used to think. Or maybe it’s amazing, like we expected or something.”
What’s the message that you want to come through your music?
“I like when things are honest I don’t want to feel disconnected at all with whatever I want to do. I think that gets transmitted at the end. I try to let go as much as I can through the songs that I’m composing.”
“I don’t know what’s going to happen! Obviously, I would love to keep touring and singing on stage, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen soon. I think people are figuring out what is going to happen with the musical industry. Luckily for me, even though it’s difficult at the same time, music helps me to sooth things. So at the end, it doesn’t matter, really, what happens because we can create something new from this. I’m working on songs little by little, so I’m just basically living the day by day and see what goes on. I’m trying to not to limit myself so much in the process and try to enjoy as much as I can.”