This Dominican spitfire took over the dance world with her hit “Whine Up” topping charts from Belgium to France. She won Latin Club Play Track Of The Year and Best New Artist at the Los Premios MTV Latinoamerica Awards.
Born in The Bronx then afterwards moving to the Dominican Republic, DeLuna’s strong singing voice was recognized at an early age. After forming an R&B group called Coquette, she went solo in 2006 and never looked back.
She has collaborated with such hip-hop innovators at Busta Rhymes, Akon, and Lil Wayne.
Kat recently made an appearance in Chicago at Roscoe’s 25th Anniversary Silver Party and we talked to her after sound check about her new album and life growing up.
Jerry Nunn: Hola, Kat. I haven’t talked to you since your appearance at Circuit Nightclub.
Kat DeLuna: It has been years.
JN: Tell me about how Dominicans do it better!
KD: (laughs) You really want me to tell you?
JN: Well, what is your back story?
KD: I am American born from The Bronx. After that my family moved to the Dominican Republic. I was basically raised there until I was six. People say that where you were raised is your first language so mine was Spanish. I learned everything there. When we returned to the States I resided in North New Jersey. I am glad that it was there because I am from New York and my whole family was there. I went through so many trails and tribulations while I was there. When I was a little girl I was looking for a saviour and for me it was music. I always sang since I was three. I started to do festivals and performances in school. That is how I became Kat DeLuna and got signed right after high school.
JN: That is so young.
KD: It took a year and half because it was really hard work. I did a lot.
JN: Does anyone else sing in your family or is it just you?
KD: My father and mother have beautiful voices. It skips a generation too.
JN: Are they very traditional?
KD: They are but the Dominican people are very world mentally. We are very religious like many Caribbean people but open. Out of all of the islands Dominicans are very good with technology. We have lots of tourism. There is a huge gay community in DR.
JN: I have heard that.
KD: I am telling you the arts are huge. At the same time it is a small Caribbean country as compared to the States.
JN: Do you go back very often?
KD: Yes, my parents are fine with going wherever “Girl, do what you need to do…” When I was thirteen I was taking the train by myself. I went to auditions to try to make it. If they were too traditional they would have told me no. They are very supportive.
JN: You have been rooted in pop music but also worked with several hip-hip artists as well.
KD: My place has always been pop but I even studied opera in high school. When I was little I looked up to Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, even taking it back to Aretha Franklin. That is what my mom and dad were listening to. In DR the radio is from around the world so that is what I was taught. Pop music came to me like water.
I feel very lucky because on my first album because I featured Busta Rhymes, Elephant Man, and Akon. One of my songs that I did for a movie Confessions of a Shopaholic.was called “Unstoppable” with Lil Wayne.
JN: Would you like to work with someone like Nicki Minaj?
KD: I think me and her would be so amazing. We are both very musical and risky. She is from Queens and I am from The Bronx.
JN: When does your new album Viva Out Loud come out?
KD: Finally at the end of the summer this year. We don’t have the precise date, you know how these things are, and I am very excited. I am kind of glad that it took the time that it did because I didn’t just jump right into it. I felt like I was going in the right direction musically but probably it would not have been there mentally. It would not be what it is now.
JN: It is a different thing than last time we talked.
KD: Yes, but still the Kat DeLuna sound. It is pop influenced by Latin and world music. It sounds big this album. I put a lot into it. Finally my sophomore album is coming out!
JN: I know the music business has been tough on you.
KD: You have to realize that it is a business but don’t feel rushed. Once I am rushed I get there but then they come down on me. This is my time.
JN: I have seen snippets on YouTube.
KD: People are going to be surprised it is Kat. This because I came out with songs like “Whine Up” and “Run the Show.” In this album there are a lot of new sounds even with dubstep but in a different way, not really how they are doing it now. There is more singing in the album. I finally get to showcase what I do, my voice. I am able to sing ballads.
JN: So there are some slow songs?
KD: Yes, definitely some powerful ballads.
JN: In Spanish and English?
KD: There is one song in Spanish, which is “Viva” for Viva Out Loud, which means “live out loud.” If you are not going to be loud then you might as well not live! Lay in the bed all day, let’s cry, and goodbye. If God or a big force brought you into this world then take advantage of it.
JN: It is energy and fun.
KD: Yes, but more meaning of life and celebrating it. That is what I am all about. That is my motto. People will tell me, “Loca, you have been through a lot but there is not an inch of you that is a pessimist.” I don’t drink but I don’t need to because I am crazy!
I believe everything in life has a formula and a resolution. I am very religious and I love the world. I love this quote “God chokes you but he doesn’t kill you.” It is a Spanish saying and what it means is that God might put you through a lot of tests, trails and tribulations, but he is not going to leave you down there on the floor. Once you figure it out God will help you get even further. I don’t know if it sounds as good in English (laughs).
JN: Those expressions always sound better in Spanish!
KD: Why is that?
JN: Who knows? I heard you singing “Quitame Ese Hombre” during the sound check by Pilar Montenegro.
KD: I was singing the Yolandita Monge version because she is the one that did it first. I do love Pilar’s version too. I might do it later at the party. Do you think I should?
JN: Depends on the crowd. People like a cappella so just pop it in there between songs.
KD: I love it.
JN: You have the voice to do it.
KD: Thank you. My shows are very spontaneous. When I get here I ask questions about my surroundings. I don’t believe in a set list for every country or state. It is not the same. I know where I am today so I might do it.
I am excited because at the end of May I am touring for five days in Japan. I am going to Turkey in three days too.
JN: Have you noticed a favorite area where you have the most fans?
KD: You know that is funny but I would say the United States.
JN: I would imagine Miami would be huge for you.
KD: Yes, as well as Europe and Asia. They think I am Asian! Definitely the United States, I may have only had two hits here but I keep up with fashion and the lifestyle.
JN: I love the shoes.
KD: Thank you. My fans here could have turned their backs on me but my Lunatics never did.
JN: Love the Lunatics name! Where can fans keep up with you?
KD: We live in an Internet world so we will definitely see each other there. In Instagram my name is Delunachic. Someone got my “KatDeLuna.” I gotta talk to her!
For current info follow Kat on Twitter @KatDeLuna and her website www.katdeluna.com.