Karen Rodriguez made her way into our lives when she first appeared on American Idol but since then she has been taking popular songs and translated them to Spanish and posting her covers on YouTube. Her cover of Justin Bieber's "Love Yourself" has over 600,000 views on YouTube but her cover of Adele's "Hello" is the one that really put her on the map with over 10 million views. We spoke to the sweetheart all about her newfound success and what we can expect from her!
What inspires your covers?
It all depends on what songs I really connect with. I just love hearing music in my native Spanish language and usually there aren’t songs out there by the artist themselves because a lot of the songs that I listen to are from American artists. A lot of the songs that are popular right now, that are trending all around the world, are hip-hop, R&B, pop by artists like Justin Bieber, Adele, Taylor Swift. We have so many people in Latin American countries that love the sound and they connect with the groove and the vibe but they don’t know what they mean and they can’t relate to the words. My job is when I hear these songs, and I love them, I like translating them so that people can understand them. I also just love singing in Spanish and being a bilingual artist. I love doing these covers because it gives me a chance to experiment with what type of songs my fans are going to like.
Which songs do you have a special connection to?
“Hello” from Adele, definitely. Right before “Hello” I did “Hotline Bling,” which was another one that was just trending everywhere and it was so catchy. The only thing was that my type of music is not really a type of music that Drake does, so that’s why I slowed it down and did an acoustic guitar version of it and I rewrote the words in Spanish. After that one I needed something to follow up the success of “Hotline Bling” and then “Hello” came out that same week. It was just like ‘Wow that sounds so great.’ It was just the story of “Hello.” Obviously Adele is such a powerful singer, so that’s something that I wanted to kind of push myself to sing and show the same emotions as she did in that song. I thought it would sound really good in Spanish.
Why do you think it’s important for you to sing in Spanish?
I guess it just goes back to what type of artist I want to be and the type of person I am. I grew up here and I was born here, but parents are Latinos. My dad’s Dominican and my mom’s from Peru. I grew up with a whole bunch of influences from a whole bunch of different songs and genres. The same way I grew up with R&B and pop, I grew up with boleros, salsa, merengue and bachata. I want those influences to carry me through my own personal, artistic journey. I want to incorporate all those sounds and find a way of having my sound be reflective of what I grew up with. I think it’s important to just have a voice and just let people know in the music industry that Latinos are very present. I love singing in Spanish. I just love it. It’s something that I connect with a lot.
What is the coolest thing that has come from doing your covers?
I would say the success of it all. Going viral was something that I didn’t expect because you don’t really know the type of feedback that you’re going to get from people. My songs aren’t really covers; they’re a translation, an adaptation of another song. Just seeing the big impact it was like in social media and how many people wrote about it. It was such a great thing to happen to me because as an artist I want as many people to listen to my music and me. Having those subscribers on YouTube is just a guarantee that whatever song I put out or video it’s going to be heard because of the fans.
What’s your process like?
The first thing I would say is it has to be a song that I feel some type of connection to. I don’t do things that I don’t want to do. If I’m not feeling it, I’m not doing it. It has to be a song that I really like. That’s the first part and then the second part is the whole process of actually going word by word and really doing research on the original cover and translating it without making it sound cheesy but also keeping it as close to the original as possible. So the melody has to be the same. The rhyming has to be the same. Then after that we go through the whole process of recording. We have to find somebody to play for us, produce the song and after that, the video. I like keeping my covers really minimal. I don’t like doing too many things in my videos. At least not right now. It’s more about letting the people just come to the video and just hear the song. It helps when I’m there and giving that emotion because they feel it twice as much. So, that’s pretty much it. It is a very long process, but I think the most crucial one is when I’m writing it. I have to be in the correct mindset. It has to feel good when I’m singing the words. If not, I rewrite and rewrite until I find the perfect part to fit that little part I’m missing.
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