At 18 years old, Yendry was going from her day job at a pizzeria to rehearsal with her experimental electronic band, and later to performing with her jazz band at a private event.
Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Italy, the now 28-year-old singer-songwriter worked seven days a week for nearly 10 years to help fund the two bands that she was passionate about being in. “People used to tell me, ‘Wow, you take this too seriously,’” Yendry remembers. “Actually, they still tell me that.”
Her genre-agnostic music, which dabbles in afrobeats, reggaetón, R&B and more, is a celebration of both her Caribbean and European influences. It’s what’s made her stand out, and even scored her “Ya” song a mention on President Barack Obama’s favorite music of 2021 year-end list.
“When I go to the studio, I have all these memories of bachata melodies. But at the same time, I have a lot of electronic music stuck in my mind that I’ve been listening to ever since I moved to Europe when I was a kid,” Yendry, who writes in English, Spanish and Italian, explains. “It just comes out natural. Being raised in two different cultures literally affected my whole creative process and my music.”
Navigating personal topics in her songs such as “Nena” and her first single “Barrio” released in 2019, that respectively touch on migration and domestic violence, Yendry began writing out of necessity to feel emotional relief. “When I’m creating music, it comes from me and it’s about something that I really care about, you know? Even if there’s another writer in the room, I always say, ‘I would love to talk about this’ or ‘I would never say that. It’s my inspiration and it’s the message I want to put out so these are the words.’”
As a kid, Yendry would spend her days watching MTV “studying” music videos and streaming Whitney Houston shows on YouTube, singing along to English lyrics whose meaning she didn’t really understand. She then discovered Nina Simone, whose poignant lyrics she admired, as well as Michael Jackson, Radiohead and Frank Ocean. “I realized that these artists were simply doing what they were feeling and didn’t stress about genre,” she recalls. “And they could still get people to connect with their music. ”
The creative freedom she’s thrived in, writing about what feels true and not sticking to one genre, is both a blessing and a curse, she says. “In the music industry it’s a battle: From the outside, it could look like, oh yeah, she does whatever she wants. But it’s always like a battle, trying to find a balance, trying to give someone what they need in order to help you to market and promote your music.”
Her debut album, which she hopes will drop before the summer, will showcase her experimental side but hopes to find a balance. “I want make my music accessible to everyone. You know it doesn’t always have to be super deep because most of the time we’re doing other things while listening to music like we’re at the supermarket, hanging out with friends. I want to experiment but at the same time, I’m trying to find the balance between those two worlds.”
Offering a tease of what we can expect in her upcoming set, she adds: “There’s songs in Spanish and English. It will have Dominican sounds but also that electronica that I love. The main theme will be travel and its different iterations. Like immigration, traveling for music, traveling from the earth to who knows where when you pass away. It’s all things that I’ve been living because it’s easier for me to write about something that I experienced.”
Below, meet this month’s Latin Artist on the Rise:
Name: Yendry Cony Fiorentino
Recommended Song: “‘Nena,’ because it has powerful vocals, but I’m also rapping a little bit. So I feel it has a lot of emotions.”
Major Accomplishment: “Well the fact that some people in New York, L.A. or other big cities know my music, I don’t take it for granted. That’s a big thing for me because I started to make music in my little room in Italy. When I walk down the street and they’re like, ‘Hey, I like your music.’ It still hits me. You know?
A few days ago I was in New York and a girl asked me for a picture, so I took the phone and was about to take a picture of her — and she was like, ‘No, I want a picture with you. I love your music.’ It’s all so weird.”
What’s Next: “My debut album. It’s something very important to me that’s why I’ve taken my time. I always look at music as something that is gonna stay when I’m gone. We still listen to music from people that passed away. So I take this maybe too seriously but, at the same time, it’s also my first one. So I want to make sure that I introduce myself to the world correctly and to people that don’t know my music yet.”