The singer talks about returning to the Dominican Republic to film the music video and shares her plans for her upcoming album.

Por Lena Hansen
Mayo 29, 2020

DaniLeigh talked to People CHICA about her new track "Dominican Mami" and reconnecting with her roots on her first trip back to Dominican Republic since she was a child. "I do have pictures and I remember having little braids when I was a little girl — it was cute because I have braids now. I don’t remember much. It was so different going back," she says of filming her new video in her parents' home country. "They looked at me like I was Cardi B. It was definitely a moment for me. All the little kids were there — there were, like, 200 little kids barefoot just watching me perform. I definitely felt welcome. It was cool to be there and to show love to my people."

Dani Leigh
Credit: Def Jam Recordings

"The video is crazy, I got drone shots. It’s got me on a boat, I’m on a horse, I’m in a buggy, in a Dominican house. It’s got a lot of elements to it," she says. "I shot the music video in D.R., which is so dope. For me it really feels like the first time going out there because I was there when I was eight years old. We shot it in El Capotillo, which is like the hood! They told me I’m the first girl that has shot there. We filmed right before all this happened," she adds about the coronavirus pandemic.

Dani Leigh
Credit: Def Jam Recordings

Life in quarantine hasn't been so bad of the Dominican American star, 25. "I’ve been staying creative, wrapping up this album that I’m excited about, and getting visuals done," she says of her upcoming untitled project. "I’m in a good space. I’m actually grateful for this time because I was always on the move and running around. I feel that I really wouldn’t have created everything that I’ve been creating if I didn’t slow down, so I’m happy."

About her new music, she says: "It’s got New York influences. It’s on a drill type of beat so I definitely pay homage to Pop Smoke and that vibe. 'Dominican Mami' is fire. I got Fivio Foreign on it. I’m really excited about having him on it because I feel he is on the come up in New York and I feel that people really respect him out there. People are going to feel it."

Dani Leigh
Credit: Def Jam Recordings

Recording "Pull Up" with Prince Royce was also a fun experience. "It was dope. I went out to his crib in Miami. They set that up because he wanted to work with me so that was really cool. We did a song with a bachata vibe," she says. Other collaborations on her wish list? "I definitely want to do a song with Rosalía, with Travis Scott, with Rihanna."

She puts her soul into her music and her new album is filled with R&B vibes, she says. "I create whatever I’m feeling at the time. I was really going through it so the album is a mixture of being in love, falling in love, going through bulls*** and then coming out of it, and feeling like a boss again," she explains. "It all comes from the heart and what I go through. What I write is where I’m at in life and what I’m feeling. I have definitely gone through things. I was in a really toxic relationship for like two years. I’ve had good relationships and times when I’ve felt great on my own. I’ve had all kinds of moments."

Her own parents' love story inspires her. "My mom got married at 18 and my parents have been married ever since. It’s been 35 years and they’re still in love," she says. "That’s what makes me this hopeless romantic. I always say I want a guy like my dad because he is really loving and hardworking."

Her parents — who grew up in New York and later moved to Miami, where DaniLeigh grew up — instilled their Latinx pride in the singer. "I have straight Dominican parents. They gave me mangú for breakfast, they listened to bachata and merengue at family parties," she says. "I love being Dominican. I feel that we have the best food and music."

What helps brighten up her days during quarantine? "Continuing to work and making sure my family is good and everything is aligned within my relationships makes me happy. I don’t like feeling bad energy or having bad blood with anybody. Staying busy and motivated makes me happy."

Her upcoming album makes her feel fulfilled. "I feel like I gave it my all. I feel that this album will make people respect me and see the kind of artist that I am."