Sofia Rei Pays Tribute to Nobel Prize–Winning Poet Gabriela Mistral on “La Otra”

Reis forthcoming album UMBRAL is out June 4 on Cascabelera Records.

Although Sofia Rei is based in New York, it was a recent trip to Elqui Valley in Chile that inspired her latest single “La Otra”—or rather her entire forthcoming album UMBRAL, which is out this June. Rei set off to journey Chilean terrain, bags of recording equipment in hand, to prepare for her anticipated third album of solo material. She describes Elqui as “a magical place, surrounded by beautifully colored mountains, clear skies 300 days out of the year, and a very particular energy.” It is also the birthplace of the masterful poet and the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in Literature Gabriela Mistral, whose poem came to be the inspiration for the album’s opening track. Over booming drum beats and chirping flute embellishments, “La Otra” is an exciting tribute to Mistral with instrumentation based in Colombian dance music.

Rei details further how the track came about: “While there, I found a book of her poetry and on it, this beautiful poem called ‘La Otra’ (The Other, or the Other Woman). I felt that it was describing me and the exact landscape I was witnessing. It really hit me. And I wrote a song with it. My interpretation, which I am not sure if it was her intention, was that she was describing a process of rebirthing, transformation. ‘I killed a woman in me—the one I did not love.'”

“I built the structure of the song using vocal loops since I had a looping machine and an effects processor with me. Then with my producer JC Maillard we injected into the song the DNA of a Colombian dance called ‘seresesé’ and we emphasized the contrast between bright sequenced chopped vocals, gritty dark heavy bass and samples of Andean flutes.”

Listen to it below.

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