interview | maría josé llergo

dress + shoes. Custo Barcelona X ABRA

A woman looking out the window. She contemplates the mountains, the deer and even places a bowl on the sill with little seeds so that the birds come to eat. This is how one imagines María José Llergo when she enters her personal universe thanks to her music. The young Andalusian debuted in 2020 with her first album, Sanación. Three years later and with a Goya award for Best Original Song, María José has released her second, ULTRABELLEZA. A path that began with a healing process now continues with a great party to celebrate love and diversity. An ode to the beauty that we all have within us and the power that love has. The very positive and hopeful message of a woman who makes the world warm while she looks out her window enjoying the little things.

Schön! chats with Llergo about her music, what inspires her, and more.

full look. Valentino
jewellery. BIIS

Today was a “blue Monday,” how was your start of the week?

Pretty good for a blue Monday. I’ve been playing the violin and learned a song: Se acabó by Maria Jimenez. 

Are you a fan of Maria Jimenez? 

Very much so. I’m a big fan of Maria. 

Who is your favourite singer? 

My grandfather Pepe and La Niña de los Peines.

And that song you have learned, are you satisfied with the way you are covering it? 

I’m happy but a song can always be worked on a little more. It is said that a singer never finishes writing a song, but abandons it. 

It sounds sad, but at the same time, very beautiful, 

A song has the power to never stop growing if you keep working on it. 

You recently presented ULTRABELLEZA, your second album, at what point do you let a project like this go? 

When I think I can’t do any better and I think I’ve already given the best version of myself. Surely if I wait a while I could take it up again and change things, and apply what I have learned in the meantime. I think the key is to know until what point you want to be a perfectionist because if not, creation ends up becoming torture. 

When you release an album and give it to the public, how do you feel when you listen to one of its songs?

I feel a lot of things because the process has been full of love. I think writing music makes me a better person so I try to put a lot of love into each song and write it as well as possible. 

Composing is therapeutic for you. 

It is super therapeutic. 

Now that ULTRABELLEZA has been released, what energies have you felt? 

I feel an energy of love, art and inspiration. I feel a lot of uncertainty but I’m looking forward to seeing what life brings me next. 

What has ULTRABELLEZA brought to you?

The album is a celebration of the diversity of the world around me. That’s why it’s called ULTRABELLEZA because diversity is the most beautiful thing that exists and I wanted to exalt and celebrate it because in the world there are many ways of loving and living. 

full look. Leandro Cano

How does María José Llergo love?

I love freely.

Is it hard to find people who love freely? 

I have had the hardest time loving myself. That kind of love is the best there is. Discovering it for me has been a marvel but also a long process but it has been worth it. I wouldn’t change that love for anything.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced with ULTRABELLEZA

Experimentation and versatility have been a challenge but they were two characteristics that I wanted this project to have. The concept of ultra beauty has also been complex and very difficult to describe in words. I have tried to define it through music. 

Do you think the concept has been understood?

I would say yes because I feel a very special energy in every concert. They are all very exciting. I connect a lot with the audience and I think they also connect a lot with themselves, I see how they unleash their superpowers and their ultrabelleza 

How do you prepare for a concert?

I am very demanding because my concerts basically consist of live music. The voice is very important because I sing without embellishments or additives. I must be physically well, rested and concentrated. For that, I meditate a lot and I like to exercise like boxing. 

Don’t you ever get nervous?

I get super nervous! I get so nervous before a concert that I want to run away. But as soon as I get on stage everything goes away and I feel good. 

Were you born to be on stage?

Yes, since I was little I could feel it when I looked at myself in the mirror. 

What is your first memory related to music?

My first memory is with my grandfather, in the countryside. He has always lived in a village called Pozoblanco and I learned to sing with him while he was tilling the land. I would try to imitate his voice while playing with the water he used to irrigate. 

full look. Leandro Cano

It seems like a precious memory. Have you gone for walks with him again these last few years, when you were already dedicated to music? 

When I visit my grandfather, he sings to me all the time. 

What is the song you most like him to sing to you?

Mira que eres linda by Antonio Machín. When he sang it to me when I was little I thought it was his, but it is Antonio’s (laughs). He also sings me many serranas, which are a traditional flamenco palo that we, the people of Sierra Morena, like very much.

Have your grandparents listened to ULTRABELLEZA?

Yes, and they like it very much. When they heard it they were very excited because they knew that I work very hard and that it’s hard for me to be away from them. When they listen to my music they find a meaning to my absence and they manage to keep me present in another way but always close. 

You love nature, don’t you? You live in a little house in the mountains, near Madrid. 

Yes, I live in the countryside. 

You’ve never lived in a big city? 

I’ve always been a country girl and I really discovered that when I lived in a city like Barcelona, where I lived for six years because I studied there. I liked it but during all that time I longed for the countryside. 

It’s a much more peaceful life. 

Yes, and I find nature very relaxing. Just by being in my little house and looking at the mountains and the birds flying, I feel totally relaxed. I love listening to the water of the river. All of that makes me feel more human.

jewellery. Alex Sobron
dress. Habey Club

Do you have any rituals you do daily? 

I like to contemplate nature for several minutes every day. During that time I give it my undivided attention. I look at the beautiful mountain or the deer running around. I also like to invite my friends over and have dinner together. Things are not well enjoyed if they are not shared.

Did you compose the album there?

Part of it, yes. But I also composed it in Montreal, Tarragona and Granada. Also in Madrid, Seville and London. 

Do you let yourself be infected by the energy of each city?

Yes, and when I listen to a song, sometimes I can feel where I composed it. 

Have you changed when making this album compared to the first one?

I experienced the first album as a kind of cure, as a healing. That’s why it was darker. ULTRABELLEZA is a work about light, a celebration of the world and the reality in which I live. 

I imagine that this healing has changed your perspective on life.

That moment of healing I’m talking about was very complicated because I didn’t see myself, among other things, ready to face such important appointments as the ones I had to live. That’s why I needed to heal before facing everything. ULTRABELLEZA is the consequence of having recovered since now I can walk new paths, travel the world without fear, and work hard and so these songs are born.

dress. Ernesto Naranjo
shoes. Merrfer
full look. VALENTINO

What has surprised you about these new paths you are taking?

That we are all more similar than we think. When we see a smile, even if we don’t want to, we end up imitating it and you end up smiling too. 

In these times I think it is very important to transmit such bright messages. 

I want us all to know that we are ultrabelleza and that there is nothing wrong with us, I think that understanding that is the first step to start working on ourselves. Suicide is the number one cause of death in young people in Spain and I think we have to change the way we look at each other and ourselves. 

Is there any special moment that you have experienced during the recording of ULTRABELLEZA?

The time I spent with Sara and Martí Perarnau in Tarragona was incredible. They are two incredible people. Also the part of the album I composed in Granada. I was with Antonio Narváez and I felt exhausted, I had no more ideas and I didn’t know where to go from there. I decided to go for a walk and I met some gypsies who were singing in the street and that’s how I came up with the song Juramento, an oath of eternal love that takes place in the Alhambra in Granada. 

sweater. Habey Club
balaclava. Leandro Cano
full look. Leandro Cano

It sounds very romantic. 

That was the first love song I wrote. 

Do you consider yourself a romantic person? 

Yes, but not in the sense of the classic romantic love myth. I like to be a lover of the everyday; of the simple life, of what is done day by day. Saying good morning when I arrive at a place, greeting everyone. I also like to put some birdseed on my terrace so that the birds come to eat, things like that.

sweater. Habey Club
balaclava. Leandro Cano
full look. Leandro Cano

photography + art direction. Fran Gomez de Villaboa
fashion. Atenea Martinez Molina
talent. María José Llergo
hair + make up. Andrea Del Arco using Termix
set design. Dysmnia Studio
production. Ivan Denia + Carlota Aguirre @ IED Madrid
fashion team. Adina Marat, Camila Begglo, Dariya Akhetova, Evy Daaboul, Julia Amanowicz, Karmel Saade, Lulu Callejas, Lucrezia Rallo, Madison Hennig, Margarida Pina, Maria Tom, Mariana Meza, Nicole Rodriguez, Nohely Abad, Patricia Calbet, Paula Dequidt + Yaily González
interview. Juan Marti

by /

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,