Latin Grammys 2022: Nicole Zignago, Pol Granch, and Yahritza y Su Esencia React To Their ‘Best New Artist’ Nominations

latin-grammy-new-artists.jpg latin-grammy-new-artists - Credit: Warner Music Latina; Sony Music Spain
latin-grammy-new-artists.jpg latin-grammy-new-artists - Credit: Warner Music Latina; Sony Music Spain

The Best New Artist category is one that always draws a tremendous amount of anticipation at the Latin Grammys. Fans eagerly wait to see which of their favorite rising stars might get a nod from the Latin Recording Academy — and this year, 11 artists representing different genres and distinct music cultures received coveted nominations. The list includes acts in all stages of their careers, representing countries such as Peru, Mexico, Colombia, and more.

Before the final winner is announced at the awards ceremony on Nov. 17, Rolling Stone caught up with three promising nominees to discuss their music and reaction to such recognition: We spoke to Pol Granch, who broke through on last year’s “Tiroteo” remix with Marc Seguí and Rauw Alejandro; Nicole Zignago, a singer-songwriter finding her own voice after writing hits for Sofía Reyes and Guaynaa; and the breakthrough family band Yahritza y Su Esencia, made up of siblings Yahritza, Jairo, and Mando, who embody the Mexican spirit of their immigrant farmworker parents.

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Nicole Zignago (Peru)

How do you feel about being nominated for Best New Artist?
This category is so powerful and important because it shines a light in all that new talent that’s emerging in Latin America. It’s a huge, huge honor! I’ve watched the awards since I was a little girl. It’s truly a dream come true and I feel deeply grateful to the Academy for this recognition.

Your father is the singer-songwriter Gian Marco. How has he supported your music career?
Both of my parents have been nothing but supportive. I also appreciate how much space they’ve given me to navigate life and this career to learn from every experience I’ve had.

You went from co-writing Sofía Reyes’ global hit “1, 2, 3” to releasing your debut EP Así Me Siento Hoy this year. What was that evolution like?
Being a songwriter for other artists has given me the chance to explore and meet so many people I respect. Now, I have the pleasure of calling them my colleagues. Beginning my career as a songwriter opened many doors for me and I’m extremely grateful for that.

I loved seeing you star in Reyes’ music video for “24/7,” song she released for LGBTQ+ Pride month this year. I appreciate the queer representation that you’re bringing to the category.
Representation is so important. I wish I had someone to look up to when I was 16 and figuring out who I was. Being Latina and queer and having a voice humbles me. It empowers me and makes me realize how much more space is needed. We need more room in this industry and in the world in general. I really hope people feel represented by who I am.

You recently released a new single called “En Huelga.” Is there an album on the way?
Yes! Next year! This whole album is going to be raw, vulnerable, honest, like we would say in Spanish: sin pelos en la lengua. I’m telling real stories about real people, real connections, real love. I’ve been realizing love — love in my relationships, lack of love sometimes — has always been the force that drives my inspiration:.

Yahritza y Su Esencia (U.S.)

You’re all part of a younger generation of artists who are redefining música Mexicana. How do you feel to be a part of that new wave?
Jairo: It feels good. We’re pretty young and I feel like we inspire other people to try to do the same thing. I feel like that’s why there’s a lot of young artists trying to do music now, whether it’s starting to play the guitar or just trying to play an instrument.

How would you describe the experience of making music as a family band?
Yahritza: I honestly love it. I feel like we connect with each other so much to the point where we can make a song come out so good. Our chemistry is just there. I feel like because I learned with Mando, like he taught me all of this, and Jairo also got all of that from Mondo, we connect with each other much more.
J: It’s like we already know what to do.  

Your breakthrough hit “Soy El Unico” charted on the Billboard 100 and made Yahritza the youngest Latin artist to ever appear on it. How did that feel?
Y: I couldn’t believe it. I was really proud of myself because coming from just making TikToks, trying to get noticed, to being like one of the top artists, it’s just crazy to me. I’m only 15 right now, so it’s like, wow, you know, a 15 year old doing all this. I’m really thankful for all our supporters. I really appreciate all of them because without them, we wouldn’t be where we’re at right now.

What can we expect from you next?
Mondo: Our next goal is to try to release more music that people really like, and enjoy, and can relate to it. And also being nominated for many more awards, and also hit that Hot 100 again.

What did you think about being nominated for Best New Artist?
Y: I’m very proud of myself and my brothers because when we were younger we really didn’t think we were going to be here. It was all a dream to me, like thinking I could do this with my brothers. It’s just crazy. And we accomplished so many things together. I’m so proud.

Pol Granch (Spain)

What was your reaction to this nomination?
I’m elated! I feel like it’s a dream that I haven’t woken up from. I know there’s probably a small chance I’ll win, but well, I’m still hoping for it.

Rauw Alejandro jumped on the “Tiroteo” remix with you and Marc Seguí. How did that impact your career?
“Tiroteo” changed my life so much. That opportunity that Rauw Alejandro gave me and Marc [Seguí], I’ll never forget because we were able to cross borders, and people listened to us all over the world. I’m sending a big hug to Rauw Alejandro.

How would you describe the experience of acting and appearing in recent seasons of the hit Netflix series Elite?
Incredible! That was very demanding for me because it was the first time I did any sort of filming like that. I was learning all the time. People took care of me since the first day I arrived on set. I hope to do more movies in the future because now I feel really comfortable with acting.

There’s an alternative edge on your new album Amor Escupido. Where does the angst on heartbreaking songs like “No Te Bastó, Mi Corazon” and “Solo x Ti” come from?
Being in this world. I’m very demanding of myself. Like with everyone else in the world, there’s a lot of pressure and things to be aware of. In one way or another, I had a problem that I turned into an opportunity and those “bad feelings,” so to speak, I ended up channeling into my songs.

What do you want to accomplish with your music?
I’m here to make music for all my life. The people who listen to my music, I’m so grateful for them and their support. I want people to hear my lyrics and see who I truly am. I hope to keep making music people are liking and to keep crossing borders. I want to travel through all of Latin America. I want to go to all parts of the world possible with my music.

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