Sweet, genuine and honest is exactly how Bratty, the soft pop and surf rock project of singer-songwriter and guitarist Jenny Juárez, would describe her music to someone unfamiliar with it.
“It’s always really deep from my heart,” Bratty said. “Music is the only way I can express myself and say anything I want without having to explain it. It’s my safe place. It’s full of feelings.”
Well-known for her songs “Honey,” “No Estás” and “Fin Del Mundo” with Cuco, the musician went from performing at restaurants, bars and gardens in 2017 to being the only Mexico-born artist taking the stage at the 2023 Coachella festival on succeeding Saturdays this past April.
“It was my dream come true,” Bratty said. “For me, it was really hard to say, ‘Oh, yes! I’m going to play at Coachella!’ It was like, ‘I’m going to play at Coachella, and I’m the only Mexican playing in this edition. I’m representing Mexican girls playing in this genre. And then I’m from Culiacán and I don’t think anyone from Culiacán has played at Coachella.’ It was really strange in some way, but I was really proud because people were expecting so much from me, representing my country.”
Growing up in Culiacán, Sinaloa
Before her musical hobby developed into a passion, she was slowly, but surely, growing her career. Bratty, born Jennifer Abigail Juárez Vázquez, grew up in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico with two older brothers and an older sister, making her the baby of the family.
Surrounded by neighboring cows and chickens in the small, ranch-like town, the singer only listened to Norteño and corrido music, until she discovered garage and bedroom pop online, which inspired her own sound.
“The music I make didn’t exist here in Mexico. I discovered those sounds from listening to Best Coast and Snail Mail and many [other] bands from California and the United States,” Bratty said. “I thought, ‘Why doesn’t anyone make that here in Mexico in Spanish?’ You can see women playing music, playing the guitar with those soft sounds and I wanted to make that happen. Music in Spanish that sounds like that. Obviously, I didn’t know how far I would make it. I wasn’t thinking about that. But everything went well, and now I’m here.”
As a 14-year-old, she had already learned how to play guitar from YouTube videos, making writing her own music much easier at age 16. After uploading the first version of what would be her first-ever extended play, or EP, on SoundCloud, she realized she needed more tools to create the sound she was aiming for. A microphone, a digital audio workstation (DAW), towels on her walls to improve sound and numerous tutorials were just what Bratty needed to perfect Todo Está Cambiando, which was released in March 2018 under Aurora Central.
After a month of studying music production at Tecnológico de Monterrey, and because college wouldn’t allow her to balance both, Bratty decided to drop out to pursue her music career full-time. Despite a bit of hesitancy and fear, she said that her parents supported her decision, as they always have. Still, it took some time for them to understand the journey she was about to embark upon.
“My parents didn’t understand it at first,” Bratty said. “I was an adolescent, so it was really strange to see their daughter walking out with a guitar and then playing it in the street. My dad has always been supportive and he always drove me to the places where I was going to have a show. My mom didn’t understand, but she let me go. When people wanted to take pictures with me, they were like, ‘What is happening? Why do people want to take photos with you?’ They started to understand more and more as time went by.”
When she was 13 years old, Juárez’s friend introduced her to bands where she discovered soft pop, which is a subgenre of pop music created in Southern California in the mid-1960s, Best Coast being one of them. And at her very first performance, when she was asked what name she’d like to be referred to by, she made a split-second decision.
“[‘Bratty’] comes from a song called “Bratty B” from Best Coast,” Bratty said. “When I made my Instagram, I put the username that I have now, brattyxb. That name stuck with me. At my first show, they made a little flyer so people knew who was going to play and they asked me what I wanted my name to be. ‘Do you have another name or do you want to put Jennifer Juárez?’ I thought that would sound really boring, so I said, ‘Why not put Bratty? Maybe later I can think of a different name.’ But it stuck forever.”
Making music in a predominately Norteño Mexico
Though she’s known for her light and airy sound with notes of surf rock that make it easy to envision driving the California coast—windows down and the sun on your face and all—creating this kind of music in a predominately Norteño, a genre of Mexican regional music, Culiacán is seldom done, especially by women. But, as a young girl who wanted to talk about her own experiences that others her age could relate to, but in Spanish, Bratty was determined to change that.
“It was difficult at first,” Bratty said. “I wanted to be in a band full of girls. I had the thought of being a girl and talking about the experiences of being a girl and expressing love in Spanish. For young people too, for people my age who talk differently about love and experience love differently. I could relate to the lyrics of Best Coast or Snail Mail, but I wanted to make that happen for people that listen to music in Spanish too, so they could relate to being a girl and experiencing love and growing up.”
In 2020, Bratty signed with Universal Music Mexico and Global Talent Services Mexico (GTS) after being with Aurora Central from 2017 to 2019, with whom she released her first album, Delusión (2019), and her second, tdbn (2021). In the same year, the musician performed at her first festival, Vive Latino, in Mexico City on March 14-15, and her career began to pick up momentum despite the world’s halt during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In addition to the release and popularity of Daniel Quién’s “Otros Colores,” which features the Mexican singer, in December 2020, it seemed listeners found something in Bratty’s music they loved, as her Spotify and Instagram follower numbers began to skyrocket.
“When the pandemic was over, that’s when I started playing shows again, but it was different,” Bratty said. “Because before, I was playing shows in small venues with not many people. So, it was like, ‘What’s going on?’ That’s when I could see the people and not see just the numbers, because it’s really different. It plays with your mind. I thought, ‘I don’t think this many people are listening to me. I don’t believe it.’ Post-pandemic, I saw that those numbers are real people and I realized, ‘Wow, okay, these people are really listening to my music.’ It was nice.”
When she first began writing her own music, she grabbed inspiration from one of the only places a 16-year-old can find it – her first heartbreak. Known for sad music on her first album, the singer-songwriter said that she wanted to break out of that mold and show her versatility as well as other aspects of her life by releasing happier music on her second.
“I wanted to let people know that I can make music about other things, too,” Bratty said. “I started finding inspiration from my friendships, my lovers, the future, the anxiety that I experience and growing up. The hate or the intrusive thoughts that I experience, my insecurities and my perfectionism.”
Changing Latin music one song at a time
Since her second album, tdbn, Bratty, who, according to Latina, “is giving Latin music an alternative twist,” has come out with her second EP, Es Mi Fiesta Y Quiero Hago Un EP (2023), as well as singles, “Continental,” “Voy en Auto,” “Radio” and “Estos Días.” A significant difference between the beginning of her music career and now is the increase in collaborations, ranging from Carlos Sadness and RENEE in 2021 to Hinds, Nsqk, Méne and Álvaro Diaz this year, which is a meticulous process for the artist.
“I’m particular in the way that I really have to have chemistry with the artists that I’m collaborating with,” Bratty said. “It doesn’t matter if they make Norteño, for me, it doesn’t matter. If I have a connection with that artist, if the artist wants to make something different, because they have to be open-minded to do something different from what they have done before, for me, it’s really important to just connect with them and find something that we have in common.”
Speaking of collaborations, Bratty has worked with her close friend, Krishna Valdez Ramírez, a visual artist who has had exhibitions in the Louvre Museum, in Italy, Amsterdam and Spain, since tdbn. The two met four years ago when Ramírez messaged the musician on Instagram after finding out they were both from Culiacán, which was the beginning of a creative and beautiful friendship.
“I believe that we are really connected because she likes to talk about a lot of things, not only what she’s expressing in the music, but she likes to talk in a conceptual way,” Ramírez said. “And I love that because I’m [also] a conceptual artist, so that’s really cool. I believe that this has been a really good journey with her because we connect really well with our ideas. The amazing part of it is that, sometimes when we have a meeting and I’m explaining ideas, she says, ‘Krishna, I thought about this last night.’ We are really connected, we think about the same things.”
A year of firsts
A huge milestone in her career took place this past April when Bratty took the 2023 Coachella stage. One moment she’s listening to these bands in her room and the next, her name is on the infamous poster of the festival’s performing artists, which was not only a dream come true for the musician, but for her team and her country as well.
“We were going to be representing Mexico at Coachella,” Bratty said. “I come from Culiacán, in a little house. My engineer was actually the only female engineer at Coachella, too. We are so proud of it and we hope that it is going to open more doors for me in the U.S. because we really enjoyed it and we made good memories.”
Performing at the infamous festival wasn’t the only first for Bratty. So was traveling to the U.S. “It was a really shocking experience, to be honest. Coming to the United States was something that I always wanted to do. Meeting Los Angeles and being at the radio station that Best Coast had been at and meeting Snail Mail at Coachella. too,” Bratty said.
Last year’s Coachella had a higher number of Latinos than this year, 20 compared to 12, with history made as Bad Bunny became the first-ever Spanish language artist to headline the festival. And as one of the Latino musicians, Bratty was really proud to bring some Mexican representation and is excited at how popular Spanish music is becoming amongst those who aren’t familiar with the language.
“I’m really happy that Latino music is going up globally. People are more open to it,” Bratty said. “Even listening to Spanish music and learning Spanish, that’s something that I’m really proud of. People who didn’t even speak the language went to my shows and they told me they had to translate the lyrics. I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s really cool. I’m doing something, I’m making people learn Spanish.’”
As the only artist from Mexico to perform at Coachella this year and one of the first Mexican indie female artists to achieve commercial success, Bratty feels a heavy sense of pride in being a representation for not only Culiacán but young Latinas like her with the passion to branch out of the typical music they grew up with.
“I’m representing girls in the music industry, Mexican artists in the music industry, girls that want to make other music that is not pop and not rock, something in between like alternative music and music that is not mainstream but is still popular in other countries,” Bratty said. “I’m representing making music in Spanish and Latinos in general. Representing young women and LGBTQ+ people. I’m just really proud of it and I’m really happy. I didn’t even know that this was going to happen and that’s the best part about it. The universe put me here for a reason.”
The bedroom pop artist’s career is only continuing to blossom this year as she prepares to release her third album, TRES, which she announced on March 3 and is set to release in November 2023. Her second album with Universal, according to the musician, is going to be the most personal project she’s done, with songs about her perception of herself and the changes she’s undergone as she’s grown up. Bratty fans can expect connections from her first album, Delusión, as well.
“My third is my favorite album that I’ve made,” Bratty said. “It’s all about numerology, it’s 2023 and I am going to be 23 this year. Three is my personal number. The color palette and the concept is about dreaming and what represents dreaming in your mind. It’s going to be related to the first album that I made: more surf [rock] and acoustic songs. One song is kind of Norteño. It’s going to be really great.”
In addition to her second album, Bratty is also working with Ramírez on TRES, which has been a year in the making. From conceptualizing a story for the project to connecting the story with the music videos and visualizers, the two have made it a priority to make the experience a fun and exciting one for the artist’s fans, providing multiple easter eggs in her content.
Focused on her experiences growing up, her fears and how she feels about the inevitable future, Bratty is nervous that her new album might not be as relatable to her listeners as her previous releases, which, in visual artist Ramírez’s opinion, isn’t the case at all after listening to the tracks, she told CALÓ NEWS.
“I really related to [the album] as an artist and as a person and I believe that you don’t need to be an artist to feel that this album is really personal to you,” Ramírez said. “And the sound, I see a new Bratty. She is experimenting with new things and I love that because we are also experimenting with new things in the videos and all that stuff, so I am really excited because I feel that this is a new chapter for her.”
Ramírez added, “I’m excited to see what is going to happen with this next album. We never know what to expect, but we are excited to see how the fans are going to take the concept and how they relate. We’re going to have some surprises and I love that. And if you want to know more about Jenny and about the sound of the album, you should see every music video in order, and you will see the concept. TRES starts with a dream that starts at 3:30 am and it will end at 3:33 am. It’s a dream that happens in three minutes.”
Regardless of how many years she’s written and released music, it seems as though Bratty’s career and success are only just beginning. But despite the momentum, the Culiacán native remains immensely grateful to the universe as her dreams become reality right before her eyes, giving her the faith to believe it will guide her where she needs to be.
“I think the universe just wants to let me know that I’m going to be okay and that I’m going in the right direction,” Bratty said. “And whatever happens, I’m going to win no matter what.”
In addition to her upcoming album, Bratty will also be performing at Foro Tims, a live music venue in Monterrey, Mexico, on September 21. If you’re interested in staying updated on the musician and her music, follow her on Instagram or tune in on Spotify and Apple Music.