Boston rapper BIA aka the Perico Princess is hardly new on the music scene, but as is often the case for women artists the road ends up being a long and winding one. Part of a first wave of women who laid down the blueprint for the current generation of female emcees, it appears BIA is finally beginning to reap the awards she deserves.
There’s no arguing that BIA, whose real name is Bianca Landrau, has put in the work for everything she’s achieved to date. First signed to to Pharrell’s RCA imprint i am OTHER in 2014, out of the gate she turned heads with an utterly confident flow revealed in a mixtape titled “CHOLASEASON.”
Subsequently she released bangers including “Whip It” and”HOLLYWOOD” and honed her craft as a performer at festivals including A3C Festival, Art Basel, Revolt Music Festival, SXSW and as an opener on Pusha-T‘s “Darkest Before the Dawn Tour” as well as Ariana Grande‘s “Dangerous Woman Tour.”
Last year BIA shed her association with RCA and laid down the gauntlet on her independence with “One Minute Warning.” The track ushered in a new era epitomized by her scorching feature “Best on Earth,” a steamy track that received a stamp of approval from none other than Rihanna.
Earlier this year, she signed with EPIC Records and dropped “FREE BIA (1st DAY OUT)” followed by “COVERGIRL.” While the road has had its share of twist and turns, BIA’s confidence combined with a smoldering flow remains in the forefront.
On a Friday afternoon, I connected with BIA whose voice was soft and a little weary from her lending her voice to the ongoing protests for the rights of Black lives the day before.
Check out our exchange below. Images via Alex Harper.
Snobette: How has your upbringing impacted your style and musical influences?
BIA: “I think I always had my own style. Growing up, I was probably more so a Tomboy so the girly style I liked came from the people that I looked up to. As far as aesthetic, I’d say Aaliyah or Selena impacted my style a lot growing up.
“As a multicultural, I feel like you’re just like a melting pot of cultures so you just take a little bit from everywhere.”
SNOBETTE: You’re known for your affinity for the color orange? What inspired that?
BIA: “Well, I’m a fire sign, so I think that has a lot to do with it. I didn’t always love orange. With me just trying different colors with my hair and trying different wigs, I was so sick of my black hair. I wanted a new color but I didn’t know what color. I tried a bunch of them, but with orange it just spoke to me and it just felt like it was grown out of my head.
“It made me feel like I was in such a great mood all the time and that’s when I started to research that for certain people, colors have a lot to do with your mood. I’m a warm person, so warm energy definitely resonates with me. I think that’s why I love the color orange so much.”
Snobette: You said you’re a fire sign. What sign are you?
BIA: “I’m a Leo.”
Snobette: Oh wow, I’m a Saggitarian!
BIA:” I love Sags!”
Snobette: Thank you! People say we’re very hard headed and stubborn, which is 99.7 percent true, but other than that we’re good people.
BIA: “My little sister is a Sag. She’s super to herself, but very aware and she’ll butt heads with you, but she’s usually right. “
Snobette: Back to your culture, what are some of the challenges that you face when navigating the music industry as a Latina and a woman of color?
BIA: “That was such a good question and I’m going to answer it in two parts. I feel like what people don’t really realize, well, some people realize it, but colorism is definitely present in Latin cultures and in American cultures. Growing up, there were times when I didn’t feel Latin enough, there were times where I didn’t feel black enough, there were times where I didn’t feel Italian enough, you know? I feel like it all plays on a person, builds your character and makes you who you are culturally.
“I wanted to touch on that because I’ve experienced my own colorism being Puerto Rican. There are a lot of fair skinned Puerto Ricans with blue eyes and there are a lot of Puerto Ricans that are dark skinned. My grandfather is at least five shades darker than me. He’s from Loíza [Puerto Rico], so he’s kind of dark skinned. I feel like that’s one thing the Latin community I’ve experienced for sure.”
Snobette: What issues have you personally experienced or witnessed related to your identity that’s reflected in your music?
BIA: “I have certain songs where I kind of get a little more conscious and talk about things that are going on. I haven’t really put that type of stuff into my music because for me my music is more like I’m trying to put people in a good mood. I think in my music to come, you’ll hear a little bit more about me opening up culturally. “
“As far as the business, I have songs like ‘FREE BIA (FIRST DAY OUT),’ which touches on music industry dynamics and things that people of color go through.”
Snobette: How was the release of “COVERGIRL” in April a reflection of your growth as an artist?
BIA: “I think ‘COVERGIRL‘ was just that time in my life where I was like, ‘You know what? I’m going to do it myself. I’m going to do it with my friends. I’m going to live my life unapologetically and I really don’t care how anyone feels about it.'”
“I think that there’s something magical that comes from not caring or not giving a fuck about what people think about you. There’s a magic that comes from that and it puts you in your creative bag and I think that’s what happened to me. I just stopped looking for that validation and I started to give it to myself.”
“‘COVERGIRL’ is just an ode to women and to people to just feel powerful and not wait around for anyone to give you that validation. Know that that’s what you are and know what you deserve.”
Snobette: What has been one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from your years in the music industry?
BIA: “Trial and error. I had a lot of mentors, and I feel like this would be a Grammy speech if I went and named all of my mentors and named all the people that helped me turn into the business woman that I am today.
“My lawyer helped mold me into the business woman I am today. He helped me get into my business woman bag. I think it’s just important that you have people around you that help you trust yourself and help facilitate your vision in the music business because I think it’s really easy to get clouded.”
Snobette: How has the COVID-19 quarantine and everything going on politically impacted your creative process?
BIA: “It’s crazy because I’m one of those people who likes to be outside, I like to feel, touch and see people and see what kind of feeling my music is giving them in person.
“It’s been kind of hard for me making that transition without actually going outside and seeing the people and seeing how they react to the music because for me, that’s the best thing. That’s the true testament of who likes your music or how it’s really doing. You have to see that for yourself, you have to do shows, you have to touch the people. It’s been different just learning how to innovate and do new things without the resources that we’re used to.”
Snobette: What legacy do you want to leave for young girls, especially young girls of color?
BIA: “I want to be a testament to them to just not give up and to really keep your foot on the gas in all aspects of life. On your business, on your love life, on what you believe in, what you stand for. Keep your foot on the gas and keep it going because consistency is key and I want women to see me and feel powerful.
“I want to exude that power and that powerfulness that I feel as a woman and as a creative being. I want to give that to them and empower them to do the same.”