Mexico Sexi Time is finally here

The Toronto-based artist has released her latest album after three years in the vault.

Enter Chiquitamagic, a songwriter and DJ originally hailing from Bogotá, Colombia, but now based in Toronto. She just released her fifth album, Mexico Sexi Time, on Feb. 21, and boy oh boy is it Sexy Time galore. 

Chiquita Magic’s real name is Isis Giraldo – her stage name chosen “Because I’m smol,” she said. The artist has mixed Latin melodies and rhythms with electronic synth-based and drum machine hardware to create an experimental fusion of cumbia, choral, and reggaeton funk.

The Concordian spoke with Chiquitamagic about her artistic process and Mexico Sexi Time.

 

The Concordian: How did you come up with the name Chiquitamagic? 

Chiquitamagic: It was such a long process. I first went by Chiquita because I thought it was cute and I’m small and that’s what people would call me. It’s also intergenerational because my mom is small too. However it didn’t capture the essence of the music in any way, and the word magic is so fun. It used to be two words but now it’s one because two words seems like such a statement. It’s these minor details that only you as an artist obsess over.

TC: What instrument did you start playing on?  

CM: I was studying jazz piano when I was little, and then I started to veer off into other things, like A440 stuff and my ears were getting tired of listening to it so I wanted an instrument with a more microtonal variation. So I found synthesizers and then I went on tour with a band called the Brahja Waldman Quartet, which used to play in Montreal for a while.     

TC: Mexico Sexi Time is a very intriguing name that hooks the avid music listener in. What is the meaning behind it?

CM: I wrote the whole album in Mexico. I was going through a phase in my life where I wanted to feel detached from things and just be comfortable in my own body. I went and rented an Airbnb in the Coyoacán area in Mexico City. I was spending a lot of alone time, where I wanted to confront some of my insecurities and demons about showing my body and showing lyrics that were more explicit than some of my works. It was like an exploration phase of feeling sexy and feeling good and feeling empowered.  

TC: You said Mexico Sexi Time took you three years to produce. What were the reasons? 

CM: It took me a really long time because I did it all myself and I wanted it to be perfect, or at least perfect the way I saw it in my head. There would be like 53 versions of the mix and then [I’d] do six bounces of the masters before I felt like it was right, and then editing all of the videos. There were just a lot of phases to producing the whole thing.

TC: For your first track “A Tu Lado (up)” the acapella is wonderful. What music trick made you come up with it?

CM: I didn’t come up with it originally as the first track, but I wanted there to be some kind of choral element because I love choral music and I grew up singing in choirs and that’s always been a strong part of my music, having lots of voices and layers and stuff. In the context of the album, I would play around with where it was and it would be a good place to open up the universe (of the album).    

TC: As a synth nerd, I loved hearing the drum machine and synths behind “Ganas De Bailar.” Is there a specific period in your life that you can remember mixing Latin music with drum machines and synths?

CM: In my live shows, I was already playing around and mashing reggaeton beats and cumbia beats, even with some funk. I definitely wanted it to be a song where women and people could go out to the dance floor to have fun and dance. It just came pretty naturally and I programmed it on a drum machine called the Roland TR-09, which is modelled off of the 808 but a mini version. 

TC: Run me through the process of collaborating with other artists. Was it enjoyable collaborating with them?

CM: Oh my god, they are the most amazing musicians, I greatly admire them so it was such an honour to have them on the album. I pretty much had the tracks done by the time I asked them to come in and they all lived in the same house in LA at the time and so it was really chill to set up my interface and have them do it. The process was amazing. 

TC: What genre would you define the album as? It feels really sultry sometimes.

CM: I think that it’s kind of a mashup of Latin funk, reggaeton and jazz. That’s how I hear it. It’s definitely influenced by subgenres of rave culture, like there’s definitely techno, jungle and a little bit of dubstep sprinkled in there. I think every artist has the issue of categorizing but basically what I want it to be is fun to listen to, to put on and enjoyable dance to. Those are the adjectives I’d describe it with because the genres are so hard to label.  

TC: How long did it take to write each song on average? 

CM: It was all very different. There are 11 tracks on the album. I rented the place in Mexico for a month and I wanted to get everything done by the time I left. I wanted the album to have a specific vibe so I didn’t set any parameters for myself, I’d go on long walks and would listen to the demos and put them in different orders to see what would take shape and then on my walks I’d say, “Okay, now I’d like to hear something fast,” and would go home and write something more fast.

TC: How has writing this album changed you? 

CM: I still can’t even believe that it’s been released to be honest, because it’s been on my laptop for years and no one has seen it. Just last night I released a video for “Ganas De Bailar” and it was all ready to go but I watched it once more and had to re-edit it because I wanted it to be perfect. It’s changed me and it will continue to change me. When this whole release is done I will go back to it and still feel like it changes me because it’s forcing me to see a side of myself that I don’t feel comfortable showing. It’s kind of like this internal mirror of yourself and you keep looking into it to remind yourself of who you are.   

TC: How did COVID-19 affect you as an individual and as an artist? 

CM: I mean those are really tied together for me, because my life as an individual is reflected in my life as an artist. It was hard, it was a crazy thing to live through, that we’re probably going to see the effects for a really long time whether it be mental health or the exhaustion of people. We’re still not over it completely. For me personally a lot of things got pulled, cancelled and postponed. The whole paradigm of being a performing artist is unclear: how long it’s gonna take and if it’s gonna come back. Obviously professionally that was the whole vibe and for my business ventures it was kind of catastrophic. It’s affected me but at the same time life has its changes, so at the same while it’s something the whole world has experienced together, that’s just the natural flow of life, the uncertainty of it. In fact even with releasing this [album], it’s more of a “Let’s just do it,” because you just don’t know what’s going to be around the corner. There isn’t a perfect time to do something, you just have to do it when it feels right.  

TC: Is there anything else coming up in the works for Chiquitamagic? 

CM: Honestly I’m kind of focused on releasing the rest of this rollout. I have two more videos that are coming out and supporting the visual element of the album. Also just touring, I’m going to be in the States, trying to hit LA, San Diego, New York City, and also I want to come through Montreal and Toronto. 

 

Visual from Chiquitamagic

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