There's no telling what kind of gem the ever-evolving Mon Laferte will surprise us with next. The Mexico City-based Chilean artist had an amazing 2017 and starts this year with another stunner: a gorgeous new Japanese-inspired video single that doubles as her directorial debut.
But let's start with a snapshot of last year's success.
Just 10 months ago, she released La Trenza, an album she says was "very real, very honest and full of love," that she recorded while on tour. It was later nominated for five Latin GRAMMY awards: Album of the Year, Best Alternative Music Album, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Alternative Song.
That nominated Alternative Song was her smash summer hit "Amárrame," featuring Juanes, one of Latin America's biggest pop-rock artists. In the video, she playfully flirts with risqué lyrics about wanting to be tied up, and so far, it's generated more than 194 million YouTube views.
In September, she electrified a packed audience at the prestigious Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, keeping fans on their feet throughout her colorful performance that was part of a night featuring SoCal band La Santa Cecilia and Mexico's popular Café Tacvba.
Then in November, "Amárrame" won the Latin GRAMMY for Best Alternative Song.
One of Laferte's exciting qualities is that she's an artist who dares to leap.
Her new video single, "Antes de Ti," affirms her ability to cross into any genre, and adds "director" to a list that already includes singer, songwriter, guitarist and actor.
"Antes de Ti" captures the dramatic awakening of finding love after a life of emptiness. From reflection to joy, Laferte's vocals carry this ballad to a climactic end, backed by a perfect blend of electric guitar accents over an orchestral backdrop.
The song and the video came from a newfound obsession with the soundtrack and beauty of a classic Japanese film, Lady Snowblood. While watching and lowering the volume, she composed a contemporary Japanese-inspired melody that would capture the film's drama. A few days later she wrote the lyrics, and an homage was born.
It came at an "important moment of personal change" and "much learning" that allowed her to dive deeper into her creativity. The result is a gorgeous video featuring Laferte in character, shot in a snowy forest, among other places, and it even has a touch of animé.
Laferte considers "Antes de Ti" one of her best songs yet.
Now along with her new video comes the U.S. release of "Asilo" by the popular and respected Uruguayan artist Jorge Drexler, featuring Laferte. It is the best kind of aching love song: gentle and intense with wistful harmonies over sparse, emotive electric guitar strums and arpeggios.
In an interview with Alt.Latino, Drexler told me that Laferte is the perfect singer to help him "reach that emotional height that I can't reach alone. Because she's a very, very intense and emotional singer... And she has this beautiful presence, [a] magic blend of sensuality and mystery and darkness and light." They recorded the video in one live take.
Laferte describes the collaboration with Drexler as a gift, another in a series of what she called learning moments in this year of growth. "Lo admiro pero muchísimo," she says. "Me parece que es un maestro artista, pero increible." ("I admire him very much. I see him as a master artist, just incredible.")
For an eclectic artist who thrives on constant expansion, Mon Laferte says nothing could have really prepared her for "the craziness of this [past] beautiful and chaotic year of making music and traveling and learning" and that she's grateful for all of it.
Look for Laferte and Juanes on their upcoming North American "Amarte Tour," which begins in April.