For all the disappointments this year has served us, the music industry has managed to ingeniously adjust to hard times. Boiler Room has always been a love letter to music, its creators, DJs, and the fans — in 2020, however, rewatching its brimming dance floors and vivid sets went from "I wanna be there" to "Will there ever be another?" Well, the music platform is turning Covid-era lemons into lemonade with its new live performance series. And BIA might just be the much-needed cup of sugar added to the mix.
Today, BIA will be giving one of two Boiler Room performances in collaboration with Maison Valentino. The shining music x fashion crossover is the latest offering showing what live shows in the pandemic age could (and should) look like; transforming the live stream into an intimate interaction between performer and audience. Kitted out in Valentino’s Diary Collection, BIA will be performing the hit song "Skate" from her debut album For Certain.
Dropping earlier this month, For Certain cemented what has been a blow-up year for the singer and rapper. Say what you want, but don’t call the Boston-raised artist an overnight sensation. Signing with Pharrell in 2014 guided her in the direction of mainstream success, but BIA knew better than to rush fame, instead opting to build a repertoire of collaborators and an unshakable body of work.
Over the past few years, BIA (born Bianca Landrau) has drawn on her Puerto Rican heritage to blend and fly between both Latin and hip-hop, with her genre-bending trapetón (a fusion of trap and reggaetón). From rapping in Spanish on tracks like J. Balvin's "Safari" to going toe-to-toe with Lil Durk on "Same Hands," BIA has been slowly chipping away at the bigger picture, proving that her talents are meant to be center-stage
BIA's upwards trajectory is a lesson in authenticity and timing. No gimmicks, just hard work. But beyond the grind and her innate star quality, the rapper’s success can also be attributed to Rihanna — sort of. Despite climbing towards success for several years, BIA received unprecedented attention when a video of Rihanna strutting slow motion to her single "Best on Earth" went viral last year.
Now, with a Rihanna co-sign, an album under her belt, and a freeing label dispute behind her, BIA is taking the world by storm. But if her elevation to one of music’s brightest new stars feels abrupt, you’re missing half the story. We spoke to the rapper about her come up, making this year hers, and working with Boiler Room and Valentino.
A lot of us got to know you when Rihanna posted a video to your song, “Best on Earth.” How does it change your life when the one and only Badgal endorses you like that?
It’s surreal, because when you put out music, you hope for everyone to love it — but when the person you look up to most likes your music, it gives you a different confidence. Like, I don’t care who likes me, Rihanna likes me.
You signed with Pharrell back in 2014, so your big break has been years in the making. But I feel like this was really the year that the world got to know BIA — why do you think this is your moment?
Timing. I’m learning that God's plan is way better than mine, so I’m enjoying the ride. I think creative control and consistency are the engine to driving an artist, and I didn’t have that until this past year.
What’s been the most difficult thing you’ve had to overcome?
I think the biggest thing I had to learn was to seek no validation from anyone other than myself. To trust my intuition and know what I stand for.
How would you describe your style of music?
My music is definitely high energy, that’s for sure. I’m enjoying experimenting with different sounds; overall, I just want my music to feel powerful and motivating.
Tell me about your album For Certain — the title is so empowering.
For Certain is my baby. It’s a beautiful piece of art that came from a rough time. This was the first time I felt certain about everything! This was the first time in my life I felt that peace; for certain about where I am in life and where I’m headed.
This Boiler Room x Valentino crossover is unreal. How did it come about?
My friends from Valentino reached out, and the rest was history. I’ve always been a fan of Valentino, but this takes my love to new heights. The way they are fusing high fashion with hard music is so iconic, and I’m just happy to be a part of it.
How does it feel to be a woman of color, a Latina, and now to represent Valentino? Could you have ever envisioned this?
With everything I do, I aim to represent women of color with the utmost respect. When you see me, I don’t just represent me, I stand for all black and brown women, and I take that responsibility very seriously. For that reason, yes, I envisioned all of this, and I’m grateful to be able to carry that message out.
We know Kevin Clark is directing your performance — what is the concept of the performance, and what can we expect?
Kevin Clark is a legend. We gonna give a lot of high energy and an unforgettable performance.
This pandemic has really redefined virtual performances. How has your experience with Boiler Room been, and what would you like to take away from this to future performances?
The pandemic has been such a learning experience. To give a great show virtually has definitely been different, but It’s made me more creative. It’s been amazing working with Boiler Room. they really supported and encouraged me to have fun and be myself. Couldn’t have asked for a better turn out.
What’s next for you?
What’s next for me is to keep elevating and sharing my music with the world. I definitely see more fashion and beauty in my future as well.
Wherever you are, you can tune in to BIA’s Boiler Room x Valentino performance today at 18:00 UTC / 10:00 PST here.