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Spanish singer Bad Gyal on her debut album and discovering reggaeton in Spain

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

It's easy to feel stuck if you haven't found your passion. For Alba Farelo, a 26-year-old singer and songwriter from Barcelona, the feeling was constant.

ALBA FARELO: I didn't have the job that motivated me. I wanted to study, but I didn't have much money, so I had to work a lot of hours on a job that - it wasn't making me happy.

RASCOE: But after a period of personal frustration, inspiration struck her when she found dancehall videos.

(CHEERING)

FARELO: I remember one step that I really, really, really wanted to learn, that it was - this step called needle eye. You bend a little bit and you start to kind of, like, drawing a number eight with your hips. So it creates kind of a wave movement with your legs.

RASCOE: And Farelo rolled that wave to become Bad Gyal, the reggaeton artist with a growing global following.

FARELO: I picked the name Bad Gyal because I felt that it was an empowering name, a name that gave you strength, and that was something that I felt like I needed at that period in my life.

RASCOE: Bad Gyal's debut album is "La Joia," which means jewel in Catalan. She says the album is a celebration of this newfound inspiration to enjoy life again. One of the more personal songs in the album is "Asi Soy," which translates to mean, the way I am.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ASI SOY")

BAD GYAL: (Singing in Spanish).

FARELO: This song is special for me, and I feel like that represents a moment in my life where maybe you wanted - you knew that you were someone who wanted to do big things, but maybe there was something missing, that it wasn't letting you be able to make it real, you know? There was a point in my life where I wasn't able at all, but now I am.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ASI SOY")

BAD GYAL: (Singing in Spanish).

FARELO: I feel like the concept of the jewel - I chose the jewel because it was a concept that it fitted on so many aspects. I like to see myself as a jewel, as a stone that came from a dirty, dark place and that you worked on. And you cut, cut, cut work, work, work, so finally it starts to shine, and finally you start to see it as the beauty that it is. But also like the process of making the album and trying to finish the songs on the most perfect way. So I really, really liked that concept.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ASI SOY")

BAD GYAL: (Singing in Spanish).

FARELO: I think my music makes people feel like they're able to be themselves, that they're able to express themselves the way they want. I feel like my music gives people this kind of freedom energy, and I think that's the thing that people connect the most with.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ASI SOY")

BAD GYAL: (Singing in Spanish).

RASCOE: That's Spanish singer and songwriter Bad Gyal talking about her song "Asi Soy" and debut album "La Joia."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ASI SOY")

BAD GYAL: (Singing in Spanish). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.