Bodine Talks New Album “Quemo Lento”

In the music video for her piano interlude “Bambi,” Bodine poses amid a dense forest, artfully costumed in animal bones as she croons over black-and-white footage with a catchy voice that spans the mezzo and alto registers. The visual doubles as an announcement video for her second EP, “Quemo Lento,” which was released last month. However, if anyone was under the impression that the project would revolve around dark instrumentals, her other tracks quickly proved them wrong. Next singles “No Me Quiere Más Na'” And “Nalgaje” presents a lighter and more generous version of Bodine. But who is Bodine really? Is it the pensive, artistic soul mentioned in the first track, or the one who proudly reveres vedette Iris Chacón and sings catchy booty odes? The answer comes as no surprise to those who know her – she is both.

Born in Amsterdam, Bodine Koehler Peña and her family moved to Puerto Rico when she was eight years old and that is where she spent her formative years. After briefly attending a Catholic elementary school in Old San Juan, she enrolled in Escuela Especializada en Ballet Julián E. Blanco. This facility offers the opportunity to study both traditional and dance courses.

“We practice from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and then take a shower. [ate] lunch and studying until 5 o’clock,” she said. Bodine did not hesitate to consider herself a “wild child” during her early teenage years, which motivated her mother to find another outlet for all her energy. that amount.

“I never followed the rules,” she said, grinning. “And my mom said, ‘Well, I have to find something for her to do, to actually keep her off the streets.’ I made friends so quickly.”

Her solution was not far off: an old piano they had in the house often attracted Bodine’s attention. “I always sit down and play a few different games,” she laughs. Noticing her interest in music, her mother enrolled in formal piano classes at San Juan’s Department of Arts and Culture. Soon after, her grandfather helped cover the cost of enrolling her in the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music, where she eventually took courses in piano, composition, and opera singing.

During this time, Bodine acquired what she now calls a “survival instinct” that she has nurtured ever since. Her family relies heavily on public transportation, but taking too many classes causes her days to end late. She and her mother would walk the dimly lit streets and cross underpasses to the bus stop, often paying with the coins they earned. Far from her carefree, impossibly beautiful appearance, Bodine looks back on those days as filled with insecurity and anxiety. To hear her tell it, her ambition arose from a desire to protect her family, whom she saw had sacrificed so much for her.

“It was a necessity,” Bodine said. It came to me in a way where I wasn’t even really looking for it.” “I was like, ‘I have to take care of my mom.'”

Her most significant breakthrough came at age 13 and was the result of a sudden decision. As she tells it, on a whim, she walked into the Calle Loíza office of famous Puerto Rican fashion designer Harry Robles and declared herself his next model. Her courage and confidence impressed Robles, and the next day she got the gig. This is the first step on the path that will lead her to become Miss Puerto Rico and participate in Miss Universe 2012 in front of millions of people.

While she tried not to dwell on her reigning years as Miss Puerto Rico and her subsequent experiences as a budding model in New York City, especially with her upbeat and upbeat flavor more important than “Quemo Lento”, she shares that that phase of her career forged a path that molded her into the person she is today. She’s proud of the job but admits that she took the opportunity for its own sake.

“The reason I went in there was because they told me, ‘Hey, you’re going to get some money. You’ll get a car.’ And I need it [to pay for] school, I need a car, I need to buy books, I need to help my family,” she said. What happened after she participated in Miss Universe was a different deck of cards, an unfavorable deck of cards. According to Bodine, today, women who are successful in beauty pageants go on to appear on television shows or receive greater career opportunities. But in her time , she said, “it’s not like that”.

“I had to provide for my family and myself so I had to go and hustle.”

She continued: “You get work done and then you think: ‘I need work, I need income.’ So I had to go get that, I had to provide for my family and for myself, and so I had to go and hustle.”

Bodine did not assuage the disillusionment she felt. “It’s a lot. There are a lot of people around me [those days]. I have a lot of “friends” around me. And the truth is I was 17, 18, 19 when all this happened,” she said. As she turned to defend herself, reality became a cold beam that hit her in the face. “That’s when you know who your friends really are. I have no support. All my ‘friends’ are not my friends. And that really makes me lonely. It was very lonely, very disappointing and very heartbreaking.”

The sometimes toxic negativity from the press and public that threatened to overshadow her reign also frustrated her. Today, she addresses the issue more comprehensively, although she agrees that the media’s focus on “messy” celebrities tends to be cruel.

“It’s cruel. And I think I just know that that’s part of the process. When you’re in the public eye, you need to understand that you just have to be really passionate about what you want in life and say talk to them.” that, because no matter what, there will always be negativity,” she said. “There will always be people who try to push you down.”

Even then, Bodine was aware of the particular vitriol reserved for women, especially young women, who are more closely scrutinized than the average person and have fewer opportunities to make mistakes. She’s grateful to have gotten through that, and what’s more, she now has no accountability that didn’t exist back then.

“I think all women are in situations where they’re completely vulnerable. And hey, I guess it’s just not the right time. I think these days not everyone can say whatever they want about these things.” specific women,” she said. “Back then – before the #MeToo movement – you could say anything and everything. And I’m sure a lot of girls went through that, not just in my world but in [other industries].”

Her first time as a model after Miss Universe also faced many difficulties and difficulties due to lack of support. “I don’t know anyone. I don’t have an agent. I applied.” [and] everyone said no to me. I applied to over 20 agencies, from the ones with the deepest dungeons to the highest level agencies. And they all said no,” she said.

The situation became so dire that at one point it began to resemble an absurdist comedy. “I remember being so stressed that I had pimples all over my body. So stressed that I actually grew a beard,” she laughed. “I wanted the job so badly that I went to the booker and said, ‘Listen to me. I need a job. I need to be booked. I’ll do anything. I can do it.’ [a] Proactive campaign. I can do anything, I can do Gillette.”

As fate would have it, she was finally signed and steady work began to arrive. However, the ghosts of her past and her survival instinct have never disappeared. Twelve years and two albums later, Bodine looks back on what brought her to where she is today with a mixture of gratitude and sadness. “Celos,” her underrated first EP, has a darker sound that, even if it’s trying to be a fusion piece, still manages to be sexy and club-worthy. The reason for that is clear in hindsight.

She shared: “That was a time when I was really depressed. “I’m going to… stop working in this industry.” She encountered the same barriers that had bothered her for more than a decade since her pageant days. Namely, people are trying to turn her into a persona that is different from who she feels like she is. That’s the main reason why she has maintained her role as an independent artist to this day.

“I didn’t pay [to industry pressure]”, she said. “So that project was born from a place of starting from scratch.”

She’s still striving to grow as an artist, and just as oysters create pearls from the irritants that invade their bodies, Bodine sees everything she’s been through as a process that made her more formidable as a woman and a creator than ever before. She cites meditation as one of the most important tools that has helped her harness her experiences in a positive way, and says she adopted it early in her career because “there was a lot of waiting time.” ” to be passionate about it. But she also said that she feels grateful that her art is able to shut out any criticism or negativity.

“I feel protected by music. I think that music, my work, will always speak for me,” she said. “Quemo Lento,” with its diverse range of genres and guest artists, tells the world that she is feeling much more optimistic.

“I’m in a good place – happy and really proud, and finally doing something I’ve really wanted to do all my life. I wish I had been here before, but I just know that This is not my time,” she said. speak. “I had to go through all of this to help my family and change my situation. It was difficult but now we are here.”

It may have been slow but she got through it and is ready for what’s next.

Juan J. Arroyo is a Puerto Rican freelance music journalist. Since 2018, he has written for PS, Remezcla, Rolling Stone and Pitchfork. His focus is on expanding the landscape of Latin stories and making Latin culture – especially Caribbean Latin culture – more visible in the mainstream.

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