It’s not often that a musician finds virality for their very first song, but that’s exactly what happened to Barcelona native Alba Farelo back in 2016 when she covered Rihanna’s hit single “Work”—but in her native Catalan language. Now, imagine it happening at only 19 years old, while working in a bakery and attending college, when this viral song begins to be played on local radio stations. This random, once-in-a-lifetime occurrence quickly became the ultimate fuel to make a lifelong dream come true for the aspiring musician. Amassing a fiercely loyal fan base in the years to come, the once relatively unknown Alba transformed herself into Bad Gyal–an in-your-face, ultra-glam musician who lyrically plays in the realms of reggaeton, dancehall, and EDM—and whose music reached beyond the boundaries of Spain and into the playlists of listeners globally.
Joining the ranks of many Spanish supernovas who have recently emerged from the nation, Bad Gyal’s underground flair has made her a favorite amongst fellow artists who have collaborated with her such as Sean Paul, Karol G, Rauw Alejandro, and Rema. With songs such as “Fiebre”, “Zorra”, and “Santa María” featuring Busy Signal, the once university student has managed to turn her singles into must-listen hits–even going on to garner her first number-one single in Spain with “Alocao” featuring Omar Montes in 2019. Now, with awards in one hand for categories such as Best Spanish Act and Best Eurolatino Song and an iPhone in the other (ready to post her latest photoshoots that generate comments on her Instagram like “la reina de españa” and “y el album para cuando???”), it seems that the burning desire for more Bad Gyal isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
V Magazine: Parts of the online world first came into contact with you when you released your version of Rihanna’s “Work” in Catalan called “Pai” in 2016. What were some of your initial reactions when that song became viral and you started to be played on radio stations?
Bad Gyal: My first reaction was to be very happy because I really saw an opportunity to quit my job and start a new path in life. My first time doing music was quite innocent [because] I did it to have fun. Even though I thought that could be a career, I just [created] music to have fun and I didn’t think about it too much. I think that was a magical moment in my life because it’ll never be like that anymore. Time and experience make your creative journey very different and [it] makes you work towards specific goals or want to achieve perfection. So for me, my beginnings in music were [more] free and not constrained by that.
V: Now seven years later, do you think your music has changed for the better or is there still some of the original flair you had when you first started out?
BG: I think my [early] essence is still there, that original vibe I had in the beginning is still in me. But obviously, I’ve learned a lot and [now] my music is a bit more understandable for people.
V: How would you say your sound has evolved as you began to continuously push out singles and mixtapes?
BG: I think throughout the years, I’ve been able to translate my art [for] a wider audience [and] making it more accessible without losing what makes it special.
V: Within these last few years to the present day, you have managed to collaborate with the likes of Guaynaa to Sean Paul to name a few. What would be some dream collaborations you would like to have as you progress with your sound?
BG: My dream collaboration would be with a Jamaican artist called Vybz Kartel.
V: Now as one of Loewe’s Paula’s Ibiza collection and fragrance campaign stars, how does it feel to partner up with such a legacy Spanish brand?
BG: I’m so happy to be part of this campaign. It makes me happy that my first international campaign is with a Spanish brand like Loewe. To have worked on all of the content in Ibiza has been a beautiful experience because it’s a magical place. I feel represented by this campaign.
V: Centered around a liberated summer spirit and its connection to Ibiza as a music and cultural epicenter, what is it about Ibiza overall and the vibes that the place exudes that you find inspiring?
BG: What I think is interesting about Ibiza is not all the partying or that international scene–it’s the traditional elements of Ibiza itself. It’s [the] nature and all the magical places it has like traditional family-owned restaurants that have been there for generations. That’s what I like about Ibiza, it’s just the place–it makes you disconnect and you’re next to the sea.
V: What is it about the community that Loewe pulls together that you think is unique?
BG: Every concept can be split up in different identities and ideas, and the connection of all of those elements makes a general greater notion, so I think the same thing happens with talents. We’re all very different but together we convey that essence that Ibiza and a brand like Loewe have.
V: Have dropped a bunch of singles last year, and your latest “Chulo” just this February, what can fans expect to see for the year ahead?
BG: What my fans can expect this year is my debut album that will have songs that’ll make them move. It’ll have a lot of different genres, and it’ll be a mix of styles and experiments [that] I always like to do. And this summer, I’ll be touring around Europe and also Latin America.
V: As you continue to rise on the charts and develop your sound for other countries to explore and listen to, what would you say is the sound of the Spanish music scene where it currently stands?
BG: I think the Spanish scene doesn’t have a specific sound. The new generations in Spain are getting inspired by music that comes from other places, more than finding inspiration in our traditional sounds. In the new wave of Spanish music, there’s more freedom and people get inspired by what they like regardless of its origin.
V: Looking back on your career–if you could offer some words of advice to a younger Alba, what would you say to her as she was starting out performing in clubs of Barcelona and defining her soundtrack by track?
BG: I would tell her to enjoy the moment because time doesn’t go back, and every era is beautiful. The beginnings, [which are] technically the hardest moments–when you look back at them, are the most precious times. It’s kind of the same thing when talking about the creative journey: all your experiences condition your art and everything that happens to you influences your art. That’s why the beginning [contains] all the good moments because you don’t feel any pressure to act a certain way or overthink what you’re going to do. For me, the beginning is what I cherish the most because everything was natural. I didn’t think too much and I enjoyed my moment.
This story appears in the pages of V142: now available for purchase!
Photography Alvaro Beamud Cortés
Fashion Alba Melendo
Creative Director Stephen Gan
Interview Kevin Ponce
Hair and Makeup Fer Martinez (Esther Almansa)
Production Interlude Project
Local Production Sagride Armas
Digital Technician Diego Sierralta
Photo Assistant Marcellina Agata
Stylist Assistant Hugo Latorre Ruiz
Video Editor Simone Triacca
Location Tuset Studio