Houston Music

Artist Of The Week: Ilyria Guerrera

Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist who isn't awful? Email their particulars to [email protected].

Artist Ilyria Guerrera is an urban Spanish performer with a tilt toward bulky production and hip-hop sensibilities. She's inventive and capable and every bit the Latina. We got with her to discuss her latest album, whether or not she's better than Karina Nistal, and if Enrique Iglesias is to blame for the "Latinos are so passionate" stereotype. Aces.

Rocks Off: Right off the bat, the beginning of your song "No Pasa Nada," which, as we all know, is Spanish for "this asparagus has a funny after-taste," is just great. It's very big. And it made us want to just start punching things and throwing rocks at people. Was that the intent?

Ilyria: [laughs] Not exactly. Actually, it's supposed to make you want to dance instead of throwing rocks at people. Anytime I'm emotionally stressed I dance. That's how I blow off steam. I invite you to do the same. Throwing rocks at people might get you arrested or something.

RO: Good point. Tell us a bit about your album. For someone who has never heard your music before, what should they expect to hear?

I: The album has been pretty interesting to make. We were a two-person army: my little, er, my younger brother and I. I can no longer call him little 'cause he's like six-two." [laughs]

He made the beats; I wrote, sang. And we did the production together. We had to kind of learn everything on the way, but it's good, 'cause with family you can get your frustrations out, and it's all good ten minutes later. People should expect to hear honest lyrics and great beats. They should feel empowered. Just please don't actually throw rocks at people. You can think about it, just don't act on that. Sing along, it helps.

RO: Okay, for real, as much as we know you're going to say something very political to answer this question, we have to try: How much better do you consider yourself than Karina Nistal? We mean, you're certainly more tribal -- just look at your headdress.

I: Karina is great! We need more women doing this, and the few of us that are need to stick together. I would love to do a song with her.

The whole thing with the headdress, well, I thought I would just get it out there that yes, I am Mexican and I'm not doing Ranchero, Norteño or Tejano. I'm very straightforward, and I thought, you know what, let's just acknowledge the elephant in the room and move on. But I also did it 'cause when I think of a warrior, the first thing that comes to my mind is an Aztec. And I knew I was going to call the album Guerrera, so I went with that. I like themes.

RO: We've got to say: Your production is very solid, particularly at the onset of a song. "The Door," for example, is one of the better songs I've heard this month. It's very, without being terribly stereotypical, passionate. What's the story behind that song? And why do people always describe Latinos as being passionate? It's Enrique Iglesias's fault, isn't it?

I: Enrique Iglesias and Luis Miguel! It's all their fault! [laughs]

"The Door" I wrote for someone very close to me who was going through a situation with her boyfriend of 10 years. He made the mistake of telling her he was leaving, and she said, "You say that one more time to me, and I will put all your stuff out myself." She eventually did. So I took that, put myself into the situation, and, ta-da, "The Door."

Grab Ilyria's album at www.myspace.com/ilyria1 or go to www.ilyriamusic.com.

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Shea Serrano