Leslie Grace: I’ve grown so much since the making of my debut album and I can’t wait to showcase all that I’ve learned from then till now.
Hi Leslie! How are you? Could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and why did you decide to become a singer?
My name is Leslie Grace Martínez, I’m 22 and from as far back as I can remember I’ve loved to entertain. I knew from very young that music was my passion and chose to pursue it in every way I could. My family has always been very supportive from the onset which I believe was essential to my growth. I started with putting on little shows in my living room for family, then joining all school functions that involved the arts and also singing worship at local churches regularly. At 14 I recorded a homemade album which got to the hand of Sergio George years later. At the age of 16 I signed my first record deal and released my first single “Will U Still Love Me Tomorrow” which was my first #1 and ultimately changed my life, for good. I’m now signed to Sony Music Latin and am continuing to enjoy every step of my musical and personal growth!
What is your earliest musical memory?
My earliest musical memory was when I declared my love for music verbally for the first time. I was about 6 years old. We were sitting in the backyard of the home where I grew up in Yonkers. My mom had asked my older sister and cousins what they wanted to do when they were older one by one and eventually it was my turn. When she asked me, I eagerly said, “I want to be an Artist!” My sister said, “like what kind of artist – a painter, a singer..” and I said “A singer!” Mom laughed and challenged me by saying, “You can’t sing… Come on, sing us something!” I yelled out, “Yes I can! ‘Oops I did it again!'” Hahaha (Britney spears was a fave at the time). Everyday since then I’ve made it my mission to follow through with that declaration of love to music as passionately as I did in that instant.
Tell us about your latest single ‘Nada De Amor’
“Nada De Amor” is a song I had a blast co-writing. I had the pleasure of writing this song with 2 incredibly talented guys, Gocho and Noriega. The session was one of those where you meet at the studio, vibe and see what happens. I went in with the idea of conveying a strong message about a girl expressing her right to love at her own pace and not be rushed into compromise by material things some boy may try to lure her with. Noriega started working on some melodies for the track and Gocho and I began to brainstorm lyrics. Once the demo was done, we felt it was only right to get the urban production whizzes – Mambo Kings to produce the final track. The outcome was a danceable pop urban track with a girl power message. I love it!
Your single ‘Aire’ features the Latin superstar Maluma, what is the single about and how did this great collaboration happen?
“Aire” is about the push and pull tension between the good girl and the bad boy. It talks about how you can become so infatuated with someone that you make them your air and you want it all to yourself. But at the end of the day, everyone breathes air and that is where the story begins with mister “Pretty Boy, Dirty Boy”! When Mau, Ricky, Jon, and I wrote the song we instantly knew it had feature potential and no one would fit that role better than Maluma. He’s a long time friend who I had collaborated with previously for his album on a song called “Tengo Un Amor” and for various live performances so when the demo was complete, I shot him the idea and he was all about it! It happened pretty organically which was my favorite part about it. That made for amazing chemistry and energy that you can hear when you listen to the track and when we perform it live.
You released your first album when you were quite young, could you describe how you learnt to discover the type of artist you wanted to be?
It’s a matter of growth and deep experimentation in the studio. I grew up listening to tons of different genres of music. Coming from a Dominican background while growing up in the states, I had a pretty good mix of both the Latin and American flavor of music which I enjoyed. I always wanted my music to be a reflection of the person I am lyrically and sonically and I feel that evolves with time and experience but the roots always stay true. I’d say my first album was a good display of my roots as a Dominican-American, 16 year old girl who grew up on tropical music as much as she did on r&b and pop.
It was great to learn that you have bachata influences in your music, could you describe what it is to our readers and why was it so important to make it part of your sound?
Bachata is a tropical genre originated in the Dominican Republic where my parents were born. Those roots run through my veins and the sounds have been streamed in my ears from the moment I was born. It was important for me to reflect the mix of musical and cultural influences I am a product of in my music, because I know that there is a whole generation out there that is just like me.
What do you love the most about the Latin Music Scene?
I love the energy behind it all. In the Latin Music world, everyone seems to be connected in some way – if not personally, through the music and through other respected colleagues. I love that because of this, mostly everyone is eager to work with new people and try new sounds when it comes to getting into the studio. It makes for a great experience for young artists like myself.
What was the biggest creative difference you noticed from making your first album to now being on your sophomore?
Growth. I’ve grown so much since the making of my debut album and I can’t wait to showcase all that I’ve learned from then till now. I think the experience I’ve gained between the two productions has served me well to be able to have the boldness to do, write, and perform with a certain confidence and foreground understanding of myself that I didn’t have before. In this sophomore album I definitely unravel more the urban/r&b/pop influences I’ve always had more so than in my debut album so sonically the albums will be very different. The evolution seemed to happen naturally and I think it’s a solid reflection of who I am and where I’m going. I continue to grow as a young woman AND artist and I think those two processes in my life have now collided during the making of this sophomore album. In a way, I believe it’s made me make music that’s more relatable lyrically to listeners who are growing with me.
Who are some of the people that inspire you?
Whitney Houston, Juan Luis Guerra, Stevie Wonder, India Arie, Brian McKnight, John Mayer, Beyoncé, Selena Quintanilla. So many influences!
Life lessons aren’t always easy; do you have an example of how you grew from a setback?
Life lessons are never easy to learn because most times they require us to admit to our own mistakes in order for us to heal and grow from the outcome of them. Other times, we just end up in sticky situations we never asked for and learn from experience. I’ve learned life lessons from love, heart breaks, bad friendships, career setbacks, too many no’s, and too many yes’s. We learn and grow from it all but the one common denominator for me has been persistence. Every experience that has come to chip away at my persistence to move forward stronger and wiser has only made it grow. So when I try to move forward from a setback, hind sight has always been 20/20 for me. I look back and reflect on all the lessons I wouldn’t have learned if it weren’t for those setbacks and move forward with a better perspective.
What do you hope to achieve with your music?
My main objective with my music and everything I do has always been, above all else, to influence and inspire in a positive and transcendent way. Of course we all have the hopes of getting to that number one spot and winning awards and having commercial success, but to me it all comes back down to utilizing whatever hard-earned success you’ve achieved to do some good. That’s what life’s about and music just happens to be the way I know how to do that best.
What does this year look like for Leslie Grace, any upcoming plans?
To finally share all the music I’ve been working on for this sophomore album and share in the excitement with my fan fam #GraceNation. I also have some hopes of unraveling the other parts of art I’ve always had a passion like acting and dance in a more public way. Hopefully tour in some places I’ve never been too and revisit other beloved city’s I have. I’ve got lots in mind for this year and I hope you all continue to take this journey with me – it more fun that way!