Who could have imagined Rosalía Vila Tobella’s extraordinary artistic career? This young girl from Catalonia, who had been dancing and making music from a very young age, experienced something life-changing when, one day at the age of 13, she was leaving her school in the small town of Sant Esteve Sesrovires and her friends made her listen to the vivid voice of Camarón de la Isla. Rosalía, struck by the emotional intensity of this discovery, decided to devote herself, body and soul, to learning flamenco. She never looked back. For seven years she perfected this ancestral Andalusian art, which she considers to be "the most honest and visceral music" she knows, with her mentor José Miguel Vizcaya, better known as Chiqui de la Línea, before entering the prestigious Escuela Superior de Música de Catalunya in Barcelona.
For almost ten years and throughout her training, Rosalía performed in various tablaos in the city – places reserved for flamenco performances – where she began to make a name for herself. It was at the end of one of these performances, and through a mutual friend, that Rosalía met the Barcelona guitarist Raül Refree. Impressed by the emotion emanating from her performance and curious to find out more, Refree began a two-year collaboration with the singer. This would culminate in her debut album in 2017, the heartbreaking Los Ángeles. Playing “De Plata”, I understand the feeling her sidekick must have had upon hearing it for the first time. A tumult of emotions in their rawest state, where passions and sorrows vie for attention. It really moved me. In this work, which casts light and shade on the close links between life and death, Raül Refree’s unorthodox guitar playing serves to highlight Rosalía’s vocal eruptions. Her silences shock you, her laments explode with a bang, and the emotion sweeps away everything in her path. Her personal and contemporary vision of flamenco seduced Spain and the country longed for more.
On 29th May 2018, Rosalía entered a new era that would propel her into the firmament of international pop music when she released the flamboyant video for her first hit, “Malamente”. Millions of views later this incredible anthem, which manages to reconcile the fundamentals of flamenco with the sound textures of trap and RnB, heralded the monumental boom that was to be her second album, El Mal Querer, released in November of the same year. Creating a magical duo by teaming up with the already renowned producer El Guincho to produce this wildly ambitious album, the fiery Catalan singer embraced star status without sacrificing her desire to experiment, and at the same time inspired the wrath of the guardians of the temples of tradition by knocking the dust off flamenco. Every since this absolute masterstroke – and despite the naysayers – Rosalía has been moving forward alongside Pablo Díaz-Reixa alias El Guincho. Whether it’s collaborating with Latin superstars J Balvin, Ozuna and Bad Bunny to deliver some of the best reggaeton hits of recent years, or putting herself in rapper’s shoes by teaming up with Travis Scott and Lil Baby, she’s stuck to her guns and never given up, no matter the challenge. And let’s not forget to mention her almost demented stage presence, which stunned me during her monumental tour for El Mal Querer – a very balanced work but with an added dash of soul that just makes the whole thing really enjoyable. Thanks to all this, in record time Rosalía has become one of the most fascinating and elusive artists we’ve ever seen on the mainstream pop scene. And the woman now known as La Rosalía knows full well that the legends are still being written about her.