Nathy Peluso is brilliantly provocative on record, and in person she makes an equally strong first impression. Look closely at the silk top she’s wearing in her NME In Conversation interview and you’ll spot a homoerotic design by the iconic queer artist Tom of Finland. A fiendishly hard worker who admits she’s “obsessed” with the songwriting process, Peluso believes fans worldwide are connecting with her music because she’s so honest and unpretentious. We catch a glimpse of this at the end of the interview when the singer and rapper jokes that her biggest problem is “having no time for sex!”
Born in Argentina, where she grew up listening to everyone from Shakira to Frank Sinatra, Peluso’s family moved to Spain when she was nine. As a teenager, she began posting jazz covers on YouTube and gained a taste for performance by singing standards in hotels and bars around Torrevieja, a popular holiday resort. This formative period now influences her own songwriting: check out Peluso’s superb big band tune ‘Copa Glasé’, a self-penned single she dropped in 2019, for proof of her serious vocal chops. “That’s the only one [in that genre] that I think I’m proud of,” she says. “Because with all the other standards I sang, I was so young just discovering my voice.”
However, jazz is just one part of Peluso’s fascinating musical patchwork. Released in 2020, her exuberant debut album ‘Calambre’ found her switching from dreamy R&B (‘Buenos Aires’) to slinky salsa (‘Pure Veneno’), then from Latin hip-hop (‘Amor Salvaje’) to modern tango (‘Agatrate’). Last November, it was named Best Alternative Music Album at the Latin Grammy Awards. This capped a stellar end to 2021 for Peluso, who topped the Spanish singles charts a month earlier with ‘Ateo’, a super-romantic Bachata duet with rapper C. Tangana. She says the song and video – which caused controversy in Spain because it shows the two musicians dancing intimately inside Toledo Cathedral – are special because they’re “really feeling it”.
For the latest instalment of NME’s In Conversation series, Peluso discusses her musical beginnings, her recent collaboration with Christina Aguilera and her epic-sounding second album.
Studying physical theatre informs every part of her stagecraft and artistry
Peluso believes her music is profoundly influenced by both countries she grew up in. “What I learned and the time I spent in Argentina when I was young, it’s a very important part of my memories,” she says. “And Spain gave me my teenage memories: my first loves, my first [career] opportunities.”
Then, the skills she learned while studying physical theatre at University of Murcia seeped deep into her muscle memory. “I can’t take off that knowledge because it’s so physical,” she says. “I studied for many years and it was so intense – intense and beautiful.”
She’s working on her follow-up to debut album ‘Calambre’ and on a creative roll
Peluso’s recent single ‘Emergencia’ sees her embracing a rave-flavoured club sound, but it’s “simply a little part” of her next project’s “big construction”. Fans should never expect to see her “sitting in just one style” because that’s not the Nathy way.
Peluso already has “so many” tracks earmarked for the next album, but says she “can’t stop producing more and more and more”. Interestingly, despite her impressive productivity, she insists she never forgets a song she’s written. “They’re like my boyfriends!” she says. “I really have an obsession with the writing process [and] the creation. Even when I am in the bathroom, I can’t stop listening to an arrangement I did yesterday and correcting it.”
Collaborating with Christina Aguilera was “an honour”
Along with Becky G, Peluso appears on ‘Pa Mis Muchachas’, a female empowerment banger from the singer‘s 2022 album ‘Aguilera’. “When I met her and Becky at the Grammys in Las Vegas, it was such a nice vibe,” Peluso recalls. “It’s such a nice feeling when you connect with your friends in the industry – your girls – because it’s not always like this. We’re always so busy touring.”
Though working with Aguilera was definitely “an honour” for her, Peluso says she wasn’t overwhelmed by the experience. Because she’s built her career “step by step”, she believes she’s earned her place in any room. “It’s like yes, it’s happening because I deserve [it] and I can share something beautiful with them,” she says.
She really wants to collaborate with Phil Collins next
Yes, really. Peluso hails the Genesis legend as “one of her favourite artists”. Has she ever sung one of his songs live? “Publicly no, but I have to. I’m always singing his songs at home or with my friends.”
Collins may not be the only rock icon Peluso has her eye on. “All the artists I want to collaborate with are more than 50 years old,” she adds with a smile.
She can never fully switch off
‘Business Woman’, a standout banger from ‘Calambre’, is very much an expression of Peluso’s approach to music. When she sings “me llaman porque soy una business woman” – “they call me because I’m a business woman” – it’s not so much a boast as a statement of intent.
“Even when you think you are relaxed, you are working because the work is yourself,” she explains. “Your business is your mind, your creativity, your style, your body, your movement, your feelings. You can’t control that, but you have to [try] because if you don’t really control it, it can be a mess. So you never stop fucking working!”
For Peluso, even watching a movie can feel like work because it inevitably sparks some kind of creative thought; and there are only two times she turns off her phone: when she goes to bed and in the recording studio.
‘ESTÁS BUENÍSIMO’ by Nathy Peluso is out now.