KORDELYA Muses on Red Flags and Toxic Relationships on "Torero" [Q&A]

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Photo: Mike Anderson

When you're wearing rose-colored glasses, sometimes all the red flags just look like flags. It's one of many poignant pieces of wisdom garnered from Bojack Horseman and the foundation of Mexican-American artist KORDELYA's latest stunner of a single,  "Torero."

"Torero," which translates to bullfighter, serves as the perfect representation for a track whose main themes revolve around toxic relationships and how we are often blind to seemingly obvious dangers and destructive traits. All this is conveyed over an irresistible Latin pop vibe rife with punchy production and KORDELYA's siren-like vocals.

We had the chance to speak with KORDELYA about her new single, those red flags whose color only seem to make itself known in hindsight, and plenty more.

Ones to Watch: Who is KORDELYA? What is she all about as an artist?

KORDELYA:  I’m a 5'2" Mexican girl who started writing in Spanglish when I felt that writing a song in only Spanish or only English didn’t feel right anymore. I speak Spanglish every day and there are so many expressions and slang that are not quite translatable, so I wanted to be honest in who I am in my writing too. I also wanted to be able to translate what my song is saying into the beat of the track and instruments too so I started teaching myself how to use Logic and Ableton to produce what I had in mind. When I make a song I’m always thinking what it is going to look like as well. I always want the visuals and audio to be seamless, to complement each other, and for you to get a bit more of what the story in the song is about.

What is "Torero" about?

"Torero" is about seeing those red flags of a toxic relationship or friendship a bit too late. Toxic relationships have always been fascinating to me. They always seem so perfect when they start out that sometimes we are blind to the red flags just to feel loved again. The imagery of the classic "Torero" (bullfighter in Spanish) that uses a literal red flag called "Tercio de muerte" or "Third of death" as they go in for the kill always struck me as the perfect metaphor for this. By the time you realize what you’ve gotten yourself into, it's the third act and you can't seem to find a way out.

The visualizer is stunning, how did you go about deciding on the art direction

Thank you so much. Been playing around with this idea of the infinite braids for a while now. I love the imagery it brings of your head being tied to something or someone that can literally and figuratively have a hold on you.

A central reference of the visualizer is the "red flag" of the bullfighter; is that about our desire for love, despite its failings?

Yes! I love that the red flag is a symbol always up for interpretation as either a good or bad thing, so I really wanted to put the listener in that mindset. We also used the 🚩emoji to tease the artwork to confuse the hell out of everyone lol. In the artwork, it also gives off that theatre curtain look which gave me the feeling of the start of a show or a relationship when you don’t know what’s hiding behind the curtain that shows that person for who they really are.

Also lots of metaphors abound, particularly feminine ones, that both empower and entangle, was that a deliberate contrast?

Exactly, you get it! I play a lot with things that have a dual meaning. Braids have always had a big place in Mexican culture and really long hair has always been considered a symbol for femininity. What I find interesting is that having long hair or a ponytail can also be dangerous because it is one of the things that someone could use to grab a hold of you if you are in a dangerous situation.

Can we expect more of this sound in the future, on your upcoming album

Yes and no. There are always new sounds and genres that I like to play with in every album to keep experimenting. I think my spirit animal might be a Racoon because I always try to grab and investigate everything just to try it out lol. I’m always so curious about new sounds and instruments that can give each song I make its own identity and style.

Besides the album set to release in 2022, what else should we be on the lookout for?

New music videos, new features with other artists, and more live shows!

What’s inspiring you right now outside of music?  

Crazy films or series like Squid Games and bubble tea

Who are your Ones to Watch?

brakence and my buddy Phil Good be making some bopss.

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