Sammi Sanchez

Twenty-year-old pop singer Sammi Sanchez, best known for songs “Girl Talk” and “Pum Pum,” has been floating through the airwaves since her teen years. Not only has she had the support of Disney and over 77,000 subscribers on YouTube, but she also has the guidance of record producer Randy Jackson. Sanchez shared some of her early experiences with CHICA.

Born in San Diego to a Tijuana-based father and a Mexican-American mother, she gravitated naturally toward expressing herself bilingually. “I think that growing up in a Latin household definitely shaped who I am today. I sing in Spanish and Spanglish. I was always dancing and singing from a young age. I always kind of gravitated towards the creative stuff rather than sports or anything.” The singer added, “I definitely embrace my culture, and I love it and I try and, you know, celebrate that in my music. Anything that I do when it comes to fashion or whatever.” This influence is evident in her latest “Down Girl” Spanglish remix.

In the dance track, Sanchez flows back and forth between languages, singing, “I could be ya down girl, eh, I could be ya down girl, eh, You know you need a down girl.” She then switches to “Si te pegas me pego, y no me despego,” translating to “If you get close, I'll get close and I won't detach myself.”

Her career began in middle school as part of a girls group. Although she didn't want to elaborate on that time, she acknowledges that the experience prepared her for the music industry. In February 2011, she posted her first YouTube cover video, singing to Justin Bieber's “Baby.” Sanchez then started building a following. She expanded her talents after moving to New York where she got into musical theater and dancing.

Her time recording covers helped her head off stage fright. “YouTube for me was such a great way to gain confidence to sing in front of people. It was the first time I ever kind of really put myself out there and didn't know how people were gonna react to it.”

The platform eventually became a network for the young artist as she met fellow YouTubers like Megan Nicole and Alex Aiono. Her big break came when Nicole asked her to open for her on tour. In search of a young Latin artist, Randy Jackson went to watch Sammi perform at a show in Los Angeles. The American Idol ex-judge found that the Southern Californian was exactly what he was looking for. She says of their connection: “Randy is amazing. He is so honest and literally will tell you how it is, and he's extremely supportive. He's been a blessing in my career so far.”

Last February, the star joined forces with reggaetonero Reykon on a pop-dance track paying homage to Panamanian reggae artist El General's 1991 hit “Pum Pum.” The song had ties to her childhood, spurring memories of her parents. “I remember in San Diego, I was really little; my little sister was being born, and I just remember dancing with my dad, and we turned on the TV and that being the music choice. And I remember just, like, dancing around the living room.”

She remains tight with fellow YouTuber Alex Aiono, whom she has known for five years and have collaborated with. The original video and song for “Down Girl,” and features Aiono. “We've always wanted to collaborate, but you know, he's busy, I'm busy, just doing our own thing. Then the song came about, and I showed it to him. And he loved it and, like, instantly he recorded his part, sent it over and we shot the video, like, right after. And it just all came together really easy. I'm really happy with it. I love Alex.”

Sammi continues to work hard at growing artistically: the studio has become a second home as strives to get her sound right. And she has her motivation! In the future, she hopes to create a girl power anthem with “Money” rapper Cardi B and a Spanglish track with Canadian rapper Drake.