In this exclusive Chica Interview, former Fifth Harmony star Ally Brooke talks about her journey of self-discovery with her first solo album. The Mexican American singer presents her first single "Low Key" and dishes on working with Tyga on the song and music video.
Since gaining stardom from the British competition show X Factor and rising to fame as a member of Fifth Harmony, Ally Brooke has been inextricably linked to being, well, one-fifth. And while she was amazingly fortunate to be in the group, she also subdued her solo career aspirations. What often goes unappreciated? The 25-year-old, not to mention her parents, paid their dues for years. “My parents and I would fly back and forth from San Antonio to L.A. to try to, we would hope to get discovered somehow and get signed,” she tells CHICA. “Many years we would go and I would be recording, writing, performing for anybody who would listen.” When she says that doing her solo work has been “the most exciting thing in my life so far,” it’s not an expression of an elated moment in time, but the feeling of something earned coming to fruition.
Her dedicated work ethic was also essential in the creative process of her first track “Low Key” featuring Tyga, which dropped today. Days’ straight, for months, she recorded more than 50 songs. She tends to downplay her own efforts and play up the role of fate in the creation of the track. “Who is Ally? Kind of shy,” she reflects, as she told us how it came together.
First of all, the plan was to record a totally different song. But, “we could never quite get it right. Then my manager calls me one day: Ally, oh my gosh, I need to play you this record, It’s amazing. If you like it, I think it needs to be your first single.” She also mentions this “fun fact:” It was written for a male voice. “But I was like: no, this is totally meant for a female and this is meant for me. So we ended up changing it. I actually pitched up the key like two keys higher, then put my voice on it, my energy, my character and I’m so happy with the way that it turned out.” Again, it doesn’t seem so much fate as the talent and effort of the singer and her team that brought “Low Key” to life. After fine-tuning the song, executives from her new label Atlantic Records suggested a collaboration that blew her away: adding rapper Tyga to the mix. Brooke was definitely down. “He is so on fire. He is so insanely talented.” The problem? The shoot for the video was only days away, and she didn’t really think it could work. That’s when fate stepped in. Not only was Tyga available on short notice to do the video, but his recording “sounded so incredible, he murdered it…. Basically the moral of the story is the stars aligned on this record and I couldn’t be happier.”
Born Allyson Brooke Hernandez, the San Antonio native is proud of her Mexican-American heritage and grew up listening to Spanish music. “I’m Mexican American… [and] I’m very fortunate to have been born in a city that celebrates our culture.”
Another major influence on Brooke’s dreams: the late Tejano music queen Selena Quintanilla. It’s no surprise that she calls the “Como la Flor” singer her number one inspiration and plans to “show her to my children.” While there is no shortage of Selena admirers, especially within the Latinx music community, Brooke’s connection is both deeper and more direct than most. “I’m so blessed because in San Antonio, she had her most famous appearances.” Brooke mentions that Selena filmed the “No me queda más” music video in San Antonio. She performed at the Riverwalk and numerous other events, playing festivals, and in baseball fields. “She gave back a lot to our city. We feel very proud to have San Antonio be a part of her legacy.”
This bicultural beauty — who loves Cardi B and listens to Beyoncé and Lady Gaga as well as Becky G, Ozuna and Bad Bunny — is also excited to hear more Latinx voices getting mainstream recognition. “Like finally! Our music has been here for so long, forever, and the world is finally appreciating it and it’s being spread all over the world. People who don’t even understand any of what they are saying, they can dance to the song, they can feel good and feel empowered.” And as she learned from Selena Quintanilla’s impact on her own success, one’s artistry has the power to change lives.
Now, Ally is building her own legacy and hoping her loyal “Harmonizers” join her in this new solo pursuit. “I just want to show my true and honest self as an artist.” She hopes that fans will “connect to the confidence. I hope they can sing: ‘Low key, low key, you should really get to know me’ like they mean it: ‘Yeah, I’m cool and I’m all these fabulous things.’”