Yahritza Y Su Esencia Talk Family & Meteoric Rise While Designing SneakersLGBTQ Artists Are Leading Brazilian Pop Culture
It’s an early Sunday morning in the heart of downtown, where black chained gates stand between the streets of Los Angeles and a renowned sneaker studio currently housing the next big music sensation in Mexican Regional music. Only four months ago, the Martinez siblings that compose Yahritza Y Su Esencia were just your typical high school (except for the eldest, Armando, who goes by Mando), living a quaint life in Yakima, WA. On Easter Sunday, the recent viral sensations were visiting Dominic Ciambrone’s, commonly referred to as the Shoe Surgeon, fashion studio to work on a pair of customized shoes — a luxury only the brightest of stars have had the pleasure to experience. Also present upon arrival were their family, publicist, and Lumbre label representatives. Appropriate feelings of a backyard carne asada, Remezcla spent the morning with the sensational sierreño siblings. We got to learn more about what makes up their inimitable formula that beat the algorithms and accelerated their digital rise from humble teenagers to Lumbre-signed regional superstars with nothing less than a phone and powerhouse raw talent.
Born into a working-class Mexican home of farmworkers in the Pacific Northwest, siblings Yahritza, Jairo, and Mando’s typical days consisted of humble teenage routines of school, occasional fieldwork, and home activities that included a lot of musical practice, dinners, and a family tradition of Sunday movie nights. “We are a very close family,” shares Adriana Martinez, whose role as both eldest sister and manager only solidifies the undertones of a family act. “It facilitates a lot of our dynamics and their career with a lot more ease because they know regardless of what happens they’re always going to be big stars in our eyes.”
At the sneaker studio, the group works attentively with Ciambrone to create their best work. Their creative process becomes blatant throughout the activity. Yahritza checks in with Adriana to figure out what shoelace color is best. Jairo asks Mando for help in finishing his bright yellow drip design on his Nike logo. David Gonzales with Lumbre shares input on colors and fabric, as their publicist Ximena Acosta shares laughs with the parents as they proudly overlook their children’s experience. Their family dynamic, even with the development of their career, shines through first and foremost in everything they do. “He’s so concentrated. He’s always been like that,” their mom, Rosa Martinez, shares about Jairo’s hawkeye concentration. “He’s even like that in school. How wonderful to see them doing things they’re clearly excited about and love.”
Like the new kicks they are completing, their family dynamic is what puts the sole into their sonic and visual aesthetic. We ask if this is similar to their workflow when it comes to creating their music, and Mando affirms, “I think it’s a lot easier because we’re siblings, and we really understand each other, everything we like and don’t like.”
The band continues their focus, and we turn our attention to their parents and Adriana to inquire if the group’s newfound cyber fame was something they had seen coming. With excitement in their eyes, they begin to retell stories of the three youngest siblings and their deep passion for music that always shone through. The eldest of the three at 24, Mando was the first to explore his talent by picking up the guitar after a bet made with his uncle on who could learn to play faster. He immediately bought himself a $300 guitar and began self-teaching himself through simple chords via Youtube videos. Now at age 17, Jairo recalls following suit of his older brother. But having no patience for the guitar, he opted for the acoustic bass stylings of the bajoloche.
When it comes to the youngest member, Yahritza’s vocals and singing talents have been present since her earliest days, which she confirms when she recalls her earliest recollection of her skills came with her impressive rendition of the ABCs in grade school. Her mother recalls Yahritza’s knack for carrying around the household karaoke machine with her everywhere she went and would perform any chance she got. Her father, Jose Martinez, shares stories of her asking to join in on songs whenever they were around performing mariachis. “Her vocals have always been beyond her age. They left us all speechless when we would hear her sing,” shares Adriana.
That ability did not stop short within her home. It was the very factor that stood out to Ramon Ruiz and Alex Guerras, members of Legado 7 and founders of Lumbre Music, when they came across a viral TikTok video that featured Jairo and Yahritza on vocals. The digital encounter inspired a fateful and immediate DM to the group, shares label representative Brian Guerrera. While Lumbre was not the only label to quickly tap into the digitally thriving stars, they were the ones that stood out to the very family-centric act. “They were consistent, and you could really see their effort,” shares Mando.
The regional-based label promptly paid a visit to the family in Yakima, playing into the family dynamics by sharing in an intimate performance and breaking bread over dinner, which led to a signed a record deal by dessert. Yahritza Y Su Esencia entered the recording studio the very next day and got to moving on their debut EP, Obsessed, out today. Two singles have been released, including the viral track, “Soy El Único,” which broke records by hitting No. 20 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. This made Yahritza the youngest Latine performer ever to hit the chart. And to continue the trajectory of their bullet train career, the EP was impressively recorded over a span of seven hours. With such a quick delivery process, Yahritza shares they even had time to add a new song, “Déjalo Ir,” a narrative that revolves around friendship and its powerful bond post heartbreak, which she enthusiastically dubs “a banger!”
The compilation highlights each of the siblings’ refined talents — from Mando’s vivid tonadas to Jairo’s rich requintos and Yahritza’s profound, emotionally-driven lyricism and delivery. In diving into the inspiration, Yahritza delves into her writing process and how she, at 15, is solidifying her place in the digital media world, from streaming services to social media, with highly relatable heartbreak ballads. “It’s like a research process for me. I observe what people are experiencing around me and write from that place.”
Of course, we can’t forget to mention an obvious factor in the group’s incredible story: Yahritza’s popularity in a male-dominated genre. In contrast with Jenni Rivera, a fellow notable and isolated figure regarding women in Regional, Yahritza carries an air of gender ambiguity, trading the more characteristically femme aesthetic for a street style androgyny she’s become popular for. Her take? “Just be yourself. People will love you because you’re just you. If I put myself out there, I want people to feel inspired that they can do this too.” When it comes to her right-hand men, Mando chimes in with big brother fashion, “It’s super dope because she’s my little sister. Me being here with her, feeling comfortable enough with me, and being on stage with her, that’s already making it.”
Their personalized sneaker pieces are near completion, and we want to know more about what each one represents to them. Yahritza references she was “just having fun with it” and drew inspiration from street artists like KAWS, and expressions of things important to her, like trendy catchphrases and even titles of her songs. And then there was a “The future is female” patch, rightfully placed on the heel for those following her footsteps closely to take inspiration from. Jairo dives into his love for the aesthetic of dunks for his creation. His final product displays a neon cow print that included personal touches like patches of an evil eye design and a cherry on the other. Mando took a more traditional approach, deeply inspired by a shoe he loved — the Off-White 4’s, which he wanted to replicate.
“Our goal is not to have fame or money. Our main purpose is to do it for our family, so they can have a better life to give back for giving us the best life they could give us.”
We talk a bit more about streetwear and how, if at all, it inspires their creative worlds and plays a part in their music. “You can express yourself with clothes and a lot of our inspiration with streetwear comes from things we see online,” says Mando. Jairo jumps in to add, “You can just wear what you want to wear. It’s about wearing whatever it is that looks good to you.” From fashion to music, it seems the sirreño siblings have a knack for playing with mixtures of both familial classics and fresh, new trends to create an inspired vision uniquely their own.
With a full musical career developed in only a short few months, there is a bound curiosity about how their lives have changed. Yahritza shares an amusing story on how she really feels no different, but laughs when she recalls an instance two weeks prior where she was stopped at a local neighborhood carnival for photos and was even asked to sign a $100 bill. “I feel like it hasn’t changed our minds,” Jairo shares. “We feel equal to people. We take everybody the same way we used to take them when we weren’t viral.” When asked where they see themselves heading, Mando shares: “Our parents are so humble and raised us that way, so I feel we get that from them. Our goal is not to have fame or money. Our main purpose is to do it for our family, so they can have a better life. To give back for giving us the best life they could give us.”
The trio heads to the indoor soccer court to show off a bit of their surprising soccer skills with the Shoe Surgeon before slipping on their final fresh new kicks. They gather their things before heading out, preparing to take their first steps back into the other side of the chained black gates, to the world awaiting their undoubted superstardom. But not without taking a few pictures and videos for their social media. After all, their digital footprint has been the key to their rapid and well-deserved success.