Every time I cover a music festival, I get anxious. There’s an energy that gets sucked out of you at these events. Everyone there is this artist type and they are all trying (and succeeding) to out-cool each other.
I was especially nervous for my interview with Spanish rapper La Mala Rodriguez, who was in Austin this past Saturday for Pachanga Latino Music Festival. Before I even got to the event, I was told I only had five minutes to interview her. FIVE MINUTES. What the hell was I going to learn in five minutes? I was also told that I couldn’t take any photos. I was starting to get the idea that she didn’t want to do the interview and that only added to my anxiety. Then I went online to do some research about her and, you know, her lyrics are so tough and badass. I mean, what other woman in show business brags about being 33?
I had this image of her being kind of scary. I’m kind of scary, too, so I thought, "Oh shit. This can go one of two ways." I can go all alpha on her and get into a growling match and not get any material for my article, or I can submit and be a fan girl and see how that goes. Then I find out that she doesn’t speak English. Or, at least, in all the interviews I found of her online she was only speaking Spanish. And there was one interviewer that came out and said she “doesn’t speak a lick of English,” so I was like, great. How am I going to be alpha or otherwise if there’s a language barrier? My Spanish is so-so, but she’s from Spain so that’s a whole other level of Spanish, you know? That’s Castellano.
I decided since I only had five minutes with her that I didn’t have time to make any small talk. I needed to get right to the juice of the interview. Through my research, I zeroed in on this issue of anger. Because in one interview I read online, Mala talked about how her music — rap music — is an angry genre and she has to tap into anger to write and perform. I’m an angry woman and my whole life I’ve been criticized for it, so I wanted to know why this woman, Mala Rodriguez, managed to ascend to fame in a genre that rarely allows women to take the stage. Was Spain so evolved?
Though in her videos she plays the hard ass, she had a lot more range on-stage. At one point during the show, she invited all the women in the audience to come up and dance with her. And boy did they. Despite a few guys sneaking up there, it was a very Girls Just Wanna Have Fun moment. I realized Mala might not be as hard as I feared.
After the show, I made my way backstage to a tent where Mala was waiting. It turned out she has learned some English since those interviews I saw online. Which is impressive considering just a few years ago she couldn’t speak it at all. Between her English and my Spanish, I managed to get some pretty interesting thoughts out of her… if only for five minutes.
Check out the interview on page 2 >>>