tour diary

Bad Gyal Takes Us From Her Dressing Room to the Afters

bad gyal

All images courtesy of Doble Cuerpo.

Bad Gyal is bringing the party to the main stage. The Catalan-Spanish singer, born Alba Farelo, has been making reggaeton and dancehall-influenced bangers laced with her signature auto-tuned vocals for years, but La Joia (“the jewel”) is her sparkling studio debut. The album dropped in January, almost a year after her earworm single “Chulo” featuring Tokischa and Young Miko became a global hit. It felt like validation for Farelo, an outsider to the Caribbean genres she works within: “I’m super lucky that I’m able to perform a reggaeton song in Puerto Rico and they like it,” she says. Now, after soaking up the hometown energy at her sold-out Barcelona show last month, she’s embarking on a tour that she’s designed to feel more like an international party than a concert. For this week’s Tour Diary, Bad Gyal calls us up from Miami to tell us about life on the road, from getting decked out in her trademark blonde and metallics to celebrating with cigs and champagne at the afters.


MEKALA RAJAGOPAL: I’m excited to talk to you today. I’m a big fan. Where are you right now?

BAD GYAL: I’m in Miami. I’m performing tomorrow at the Premio Lo Nuestro Awards with Anitta.

RAJAGOPAL: That’s exciting. Have you performed with her before?

GYAL: No, it’s the first time. I’m super excited. I admire her a lot. I think she’s one of the most powerful female artists that we have right now, and I feel super lucky to share the stage with her.

RAJAGOPAL: And you recently went home to Barcelona for a show, how was that?

GYAL: It was amazing. It was sold out less than a month after we dropped the tickets, so it was crazy. People had a lot of energy and they were really looking forward to seeing the show.  I had my family and friends there, and it was amazing being in my own city, feeling my people and their energy. I was presenting my new album as well. I enjoyed it a lot.

RAJAGOPAL: Did you grow up in the city or outside?

GYAL: I grew up outside, in a sea village a little bit to the north. I was really happy growing up there. It was quite chill. We would play on the street and we really had a happy childhood.

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RAJAGOPAL: What kind of music did you absorb growing up?

GYAL: Actually, when I was 8 or 10 years old, I became more aware of my memories related to music, and reggaeton was already getting really big in Spain. Artists like Daddy Yankee and Don Omar were getting super popular outside of Puerto Rico, so we grew up listening to those first global hits. I remember we were kids and we didn’t even understand a lot of the stuff that they were saying, but we liked the energy. Later I remember this Caribbean track, by Kevin Lyttle, “Turn Me On.” I remember one summer that they played the music video on the MTV channel and that was my song for the whole summer. I also love dancing, so once this kind of music started to get popular, I got excited because I love to dance to it.

RAJAGOPAL: When you goback home to Barcelona, where are your favorite places to go?

GYAL: I really just walk around my neighborhood, go to the beach, and go to the nice restaurants that I like. There’s a spot that I love to go to have a cocktail, listen to some music, and smoke a hookah. It’s called Blue.

RAJAGOPAL: Do you go shopping?

GYAL: Actually, I don’t go shopping that much in Barcelona. I prefer to buy stuff on the internet.

RAJAGOPAL: Totally. How do you get ready for your shows, physically and mentally? 

GYAL: I train quite a lot, four or five times per week, because I feel like I need to be strong to keep up with all the shows. I’m performing in heels, so my ankles and my knees need to be healthy. Before the shows, I like to do my vocal training and just be chill, drink my tea, and listen to the music that I like. And get good rest.

RAJAGOPAL: Is there an artist that you like to listen to before you hit the stage?

GYAL: Vybz Kartel.

RAJAGOPAL: That’s a good one.

GYAL: That’ll always give me the energy I need. He’s my favorite artist.

RAJAGOPAL: What foods are essential to stock backstage?

GYAL: I like turkey, eggs, avocado, hummus, stuff like that. Healthy stuff. I have a couple of bottles of good champagne, but I drink once I’m done.

RAJAGOPAL: What vibe are you channeling for your outfits on this tour?

GYAL: Our palette right now is really all silver, gold, and organic colors, like nude and brown.

RAJAGOPAL: Cute. Do you feel like your shows feel different before and after “Chulo”?

GYAL: Depends on the context. In Spain I was already really big, and in other countries like Chile or Mexico or Argentina, there were a couple of songs of mine that were already hits. But I did notice a difference. People really get excited about that song, and in the countries that I was already big in, too. They get really, really, excited with “Chulo,” and it opened doors for me in different countries. I remember performing in Puerto Rico and people loved it.

RAJAGOPAL: That must be exciting in the home of reggaeton.

GYAL: Yeah, it’s super exciting. I admire all the artists and the culture, and I’m super lucky that I’m able to perform a reggaeton song in Puerto Rico and they like it. It’s like, “Oh my god, thank you.”

RAJAGOPAL: You got the validation.

GYAL: Exactly.

RAJAGOPAL: What’s your favorite song to perform?

GYAL: Actually “Chulo,” because of the energy. And that’s a vibe that I’ve been listening to. I’ve always loved reggaeton, but “Chulo” made me fall in love again with 2000s reggaeton, with Wisin & Yandel and Héctor el Father, with the whole vibe of the dark reggaeton in the club and the drums that get inside of you. So I really enjoy performing that type of song and singing on that type of beat.

RAJAGOPAL: You mentioned that you train. Can you describe your performance?

GYAL: In my performances, I found that the right way for me to express myself on stage is to use the movements that naturally come out from me—the movements that I would do at a club. Then I can add some steps and make it look more choreographed, but the base of the show is just movements that naturally feel good. I’m really comfortable moving my hips. I’m not really a steps or arms girl. It’s more about my waist and my butt, but I also enjoy the parts that I [choreograph], because it’s still the kind of groove that’s more natural for me. I’m not a professional dancer, but at a certain point in my life I tried to learn properly. I traveled to Jamaica, and the dancers there taught me their steps, so that kind of groove really went inside of me. So the trick is to make those natural moves look good on the stage and with the other dancers. 

RAJAGOPAL: Just make it feel like a party.

GYAL: Yeah! That’s something that I always say in my shows: “It’s not a show, it’s a party.” Because at the end of the day, the energy stays really up. The BPMs of the songs are quite fast, and everyone is dancing and enjoying [themselves]. Even with the lights, for this new tour I had the time to focus on the little details that I wanted, and the lights and effects are a party vibe.

RAJAGOPAL: Love that. Do you have any favorite tour moments so far?

GYAL: The tour just started, but I love when we finish a show and we are happy with what we’ve done, because it’s hard physically, you know? It’s a show that is physically hard for the dancers as well, and the people that are working with the cameras and on the realization of the show. I’m happy when I see everyone happy when we finish. That is the most special moment for me. Everyone has a super necessary role, so it’s great when I see them happy.

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RAJAGOPAL: And then when you’re finished, what do you do afterwards? Do you hit the after-party or just want to sleep?

GYAL: Usually I go party, for sure. I start smoking my cigarettes and drinking all the champagne. I always get changed, put on a nice dress and heels, open my champagne, and just be a pretty girl. But lately, my feet are so tired that I’ve been putting on my sneakers and my sweatpants. My friends are like, “Girl, you’re going out like this?” And I’m like, “I don’t give a fuck anymore. My feet cannot stand it.” But heels or no heels, usually I always end up at some club or after-party to celebrate.

RAJAGOPAL: Those are always the best nights when you’re dressed down, honestly.

GYAL: So much better. I can enjoy the music and I love to dance, so I enjoy it even more.

RAJAGOPAL: Where did you go after the Barcelona show?

GYAL: We had this private dinner with my closest friends, and after that I did a private afterparty. I brought these DJs from the Netherlands that I really like called Tribal Kush, and they mixed different Caribbean genres. It was amazing. We had a lot of fun and we got really drunk.

RAJAGOPAL: Where are you most excited to go next?

GYAL: Actually, I’m excited to do the US tour. I’m excited to go back to New York. I love New York. It’s one of my favorite cities.

RAJAGOPAL: It’s the best. What’s your dream place to perform?

GYAL: Maybe I sound repetitive, but I would love to do a big show in New York in Madison Square or something. That would be my craziest dream. I know it’s not something that is going to happen soon, but it’s a dream that I have.

RAJAGOPAL: That would be iconic. Good luck in Miami tomorrow.

bad gyal