“Que pasa mi gente? I’m Becky G,” Becky G announces into a camera from the rooftop of a hotel in Seville, Spain, switching from Spanish to English effortlessly. The 22-year-old Mexican-American singer couldn’t look more at ease in bright red leather pants and a chic red crop top as she cycles through interview questions for what will soon become content on some MTV channel. The topic at hand is her hosting gig for the 2019 MTV European Music Awards on Sunday, November 3.
What the camera doesn’t catch is the years of work that brought Becky G to this moment. There’s the historic — she first burst onto the music scene at age 14 and eventually transitioned into bilingual music — and the very recent. After some travel chaos on the way to Spain, the singer has been hustling to prep for the big show. There are voice-overs to record, sketches to shoot, and rehearsals to have.
Although Becky now has sweat on her brow to show it — she was in rehearsals just an hour prior, strutting through flames and practicing her moves with dozens of backup dancers. Even amid a mass of shaking bodies, it’s impossible to forget that Becky G is the star. That’s why we had to chat with her.
Refinery29 caught up with Becky, whose first album, Mala Santa, was released last month, amid the controlled madness on top of her hotel. She told us some of the best secrets of the MTV EMAs, how she’s celebrating her Latinidad in Spain, and so how one removes leather pants after a day in the Spanish heat.
Refinery29: Tell me what your first album name means?
Becky G: "It’s the angel who can be bad sometimes. Since I was the young girl who grew up in front of everyone’s eyes, I’m still very much that hungry ambitious sweetheart. I just found my womanhood. I found my sexy."
You’re wearing leather pants. How do you get in and out of those?
"Believe it or not, they’re fake leather, so they're stretchy."
What is it so special about the 2019 EMAs?
"It takes you so many different places. Obviously being a host is a huge responsibility. You’re the bridge between each act. You have to keep the people going. Keep the energy up. I’m really excited for people to get that. I think it’s really special that the EMAs are taking place here in Seville, in Spain. It’s a special place for me. Once I embarked on my Spanish music journey, this is one of the first places that recognized me and showed me the most love. It feels like a full-circle journey for me."
How do you be unapologetic about that journey into celebrating your Latinidad?
'To be honest, the first album I ever bought was a Christina Aguilera album [Mi Reflejo], and it was double-sided. I always knew, the day that I become a pop star, I want to do English songs and Spanish songs. Obviously other artists I would listen to growing up, like Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, would do the same.
"It was also a huge fear of mine. I got my start in English music. I was super young and I learned a lot of things, but I got lost in the sauce. I always had a sense of self, [but] I didn’t necessarily know how I was going to get there. Because you know the music industry there’s lots of left steps [and] right steps."
"This is true. You maneuver and you just keep it moving. For me, it was one of those things where I didn’t know what was going to happen next and maybe it was time to challenge myself and try something new. It was that fear of not speaking Spanish because I had always been doing that since I was young, but learning to express myself in it.
"I knew, if I was going to sing songs in Spanish, I wanted to communicate with my fans without using a translator and be able to explain what these songs mean to me. I identify with them."
How does it feel to grapple with that identity in Spain?
"As a creative soul, you’re always looking for signs. You’re always looking for an indication you’re on the right path. I always joke my frequency is very high. I feel like I’ve been here before.
"I think with me going into Spanish, people were maybe like, Wait, what the heck? But now more than ever, people understand I found myself as a woman in the industry my Spanish music. To me, that’s the most liberating and empowering thing I’ve experienced thus far."
And you’re a West Coast Latina. What do you hope people learn about your culture?
"For me, it’s representing what that L.A. experience has been for me. It’s been one of my truest, biggest inspirations, a Mexican-American, born and raised in Inglewood. I grew up very much so Latina. When people would tell me I wasn’t Mexican, I would get offended."
"I would be like, What do you mean? Just because I have ‘paucha power,’ I call it. My Spanish is a little lacking, everything else is Mexican. After people minimized what my experience was, now I get to embrace it and demonstrate it to the world. Now they really, truly see it was the most authentic version of myself."
Latinx Heritage Month ended over a month ago, on October 15. Why do we need to talk about Latinidad long after the month ends?
"We should embrace not just ourselves but each other for who we are. I like people who want to educate themselves and say, ‘Maybe I don’t know that’ or ‘I don’t know what that experience is like.’ So let’s have a conversation about it.
"When it comes to the Latinx community and the younger generations especially, we are the proudest and the most curious we’ve ever been. We want to dive in deeper. We want to break cultural cycles that no longer serve where we are. That, to be honest, never served people back then either. Now, that sense of awareness we’re exposed to at younger [ages], it’s groundbreaking."
How do you feel like you performing at this show is adding to that conversation?
"For me to be able to go on stage and host an English show, but bring a little of that Spanglish flavor and then have artists from so many different places, it is a testament to how music is a universal language meant for everybody. Especially because the audience who is attending this show, they’re going to be Spanish speakers. The fact that I get to be that connecting piece for them to feel at home is pretty bad."
And you’re serving as the connecting piece between America, Spain, and Mexico.
"Right! I’ve never dug down that deep. Because going back to L.A. — it’s a melting pot of everything. I was listening to an interview with Rosalía and I remember they asked her, 'Do you identify as Latina? You’re European and you’re from Spain.' You can’t put her or her influences in a box, because the inspiration comes from so many different places."
How do you think your experience in music differs from the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Shakira?
"I’m so much more exposed because of the generation I grew up in. Back in the day, we would only see a Jennifer or a Shakira in the glitz and glam, looking like superheroes. Now it’s different. My fans see the travel issues that we face. They want to see what you ate for breakfast, they want to know about your relationships, they want to know about your family. They see you with and without makeup.
"The way that you are connected with [the fans] is so much closer than what it was back then."
This interview was edited for clarity and length.