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Mayra Veronica Brings Tropical Heat to Latin music
7/21/06 - exclusive interview

Cuban-born bombshell Mayra Veronica had already earned her modeling stripes by making FHM Magazine's "Top 100 Sexiest Women" list for three years straight and the number five spot on Maxim's "25 Sexiest Latin Women on the Planet" feature.


Building a following between her numerous magazine covers, steamy calendar shoots and Univision programs such as Sabado Gigante and Don Francisco Presenta, this daughter of a recognized Cuban musician has made her foray into music with a medley of Hip Hop, Reggaeton and Cumbia sounds. Collaborations with artists Pitbull and Lil Jon have further pushed her in the Latin music spotlight. With her strong Ivy Queen-esque delivery that belies her soft exterior, Mayra brings a new dimension to Latin Urban music with her new single Vengo Con To.


Mayra took time away from promoting her upcoming album to speak with about her new CD, women's sexuality in music and more in this exclusive interview. Tell us about your new album

The title is Vengo Con To, which is I'm coming with everything I've got. The reason it was named that, I'm coming out with every type of music. Its got a lot of Latin mixes in there, salsa, merengue, reggaeton, cumbia, ballad and a little bit of hip hop feel in there. Basically letting everyone know about the mixes I've heard throughout my life in Miami, being in such a multicultural melting pot. I was in Miami, I lived in New York for a while, it was all hip hip with a Latin influence, because I am Cuban. Its basically a mix of a lot of Latin rhythms and hip hip.

Will the album have any notable producers?

I worked with Roy Tavares, he worked on the Roselyn Sanchez track. He's Dominican, he's amazing with beats. He kind of has his own thing going on, his own type of flavor. I also worked with Kike, he's president of the Latin Grammy academy, he's Colombian, he added some nice cool Cumbia to it. Its a nice fusion.

Any guest features?

You know, on the particular Spanish album, no. I'm working with Pit[bull], on the mostly English album on a couple of tracks. At least the main tracks should be out by the end of the fall

What's the track you're doing with Pitbull?

Its a surprise, its with Lil Jon and Pitbull, we're not really talking much about it now. But its hot, its so hot.

So is the new album mostly reggaeton?

Its pop reggaeton, 'cause it has the influence of everything else, but maybe three or four pop reggaeton songs in there.

Have you been doing this kind of music for a while?

My dad was pretty famous in Cuba around the 70's, the main rock band of the 70's. I grew up with him constantly rehearsing, practicing, always going to see him at rehearsals and performances. He shared stages with Miami Sound Machine, in different bands and always singing different stuff.


Music has been ingrained in me, I lived with it all around me. I didn't originally go into music because it was like my dad's thing, my father's a typical Cuban catholic, strict upbringing, saying I don't know if I want my daughter to go in this music industry. So I kind of steered away, but I always knew that it was the arts I was interested in. I studied acting for a while, until I was working for Don Francisco. He interviews all these artists, the opportunity came up with Kike, he was one of our guests. He kind of told me about it, and I had seen what other people were bringing to the table in terms of talent, and I tried it, and I loved it ever since.

Have you done any films lately?

I did a couple of independents, one for television called the Suitor. I did one called Tumbe an independent that's getting a lot of good feedback right now, its getting picked up for festivals like Sundance. But right now, the music started taking so much time, I moved out to L.A. and I'm flying to Miami every other week to finish the music. Out here I've been focusing completely on the music.

So the modeling isn't that big anymore?

When you're in music, it really takes a lot of your time, you're going to festivals. So yeah, the modeling, everything else. Even though I made some time to do my calendar, its like a ritual every year, we definitely took the time to make my calendar. Its probably my hottest edition, it came out so hot. but now we're shooting the video in Miami for one of our main songs, so we're right back in the music

Are you touring?

We start right after the video, the video gets done in August and we begin a tour of the East Coast I believe on the 10th of August, basically going to all the radio stations. We'll be visiting, going to Orlando, obviously Miami, Washington, going to Philly, going to Boston, Hartford. We have the whole East Coast lined up.

People may draw comparisons between you and other models that went into music, do you worry that people will question why made this move?

I've seen it with Odalys Garcia, I've seen it with CiCi from Sabado Gigante.

I've bought the Odalys calendar, but I never got the album, I hadn't heard it

You know, when those kinds of opportunities present themselves, you have to like it, because its something so intense and time consuming. I believe that anyone that does it, whether they're models first or not, have to have some genuine interest in music.


Does that worry me? I've heard that a lot, about the whole model going singing or acting. I don't particularly let that get to me or I don't hear them. I'm living my life, if music wants to be a part of it, I'm allowing the world to hear it and see what my life is like. I'm not doing it to capitalize.

Vida Guerra was in FHM as well, and just got the cover of Playboy which probably helped promote the album. Have you still been doing cover shots?

Well the Smoke [magazine] shoot was scheduled because there were so many Latin beats and I like cigars, but we have many others that are coming out with a lot of Spanish industry. You mentioned something about Playboy. I have no problem disrobing, but as far as completely going down the Playboy route, its not my thing, I don't have that planned.

And if Playboy gave you a call?

Playboy has, a couple of times. I've interviewed Hugh Hefner when I had my own entertainment show, when was the first time I was asked personally by him. They contacted us about it, and there were a lot of others that were contacted that haven't done it, Sofia Vergara, Jessica Alba. I never completely rule it out. I would like to at some point, maybe I would under the right circumstances and the right amount of backing. Not right now, its a big step for a woman to take, you have to be ready for that.

Any plans after album drops in terms of getting back more into film or modeling?

Right after this one drops, we're taking it from there. I gotta see where its all going, where its all taking me. I believe in fate, its steering me towards music big time.

Obviously whatever presents itself along the way, but I always think its fate because of my father. When things present themselves like that, how do you say no?

What type of music do you listen to?

I listen to everything. Jazz, a lot of the old Spanish like Lee Trevino, Celia Cruz. Of course to dance its hip hop all the way, reggaeton. It depends on the mood. If I'm in a partying mood I listen to Hip Hop. In Miami during the day I'll listen to reggaeton, a mellow mood I turn up the jazz.

Any artists you want to work with?

I actually love Jamie Foxx, I loved what he did with the movie and was particularly amazed with his talent in music. For right now, that would be somebody that I would have in my future that I'd like to work with.

Are you still appearing on Univision?

I had to leave the show because its so time consuming, I relocated to California. I went back and forth the first couple of months, but it wasn't feasible.

For all the guys out in California, are you single?

(laughs) I'm totally single, and I think it has to do with the constant traveling and also because I'm so involved with the work. Always looking for a nice guy, so I'm available (laughs)

Are men afraid to come up and speak to you?

I don't think so. Its about the energy you put out, I love people, I think they get that, I'm easily approached.

Do you have preference for Latin guys?

(laughs) I do think - I don't know - Latin guys are very respectful. The majority that I met are very gentleman like, and I love that. They're very old school gentlemen. But there's all types of guys, as long as they're courteous and know how to treat a lady, I'm down.

Yeah, those aren't the guys that hang out in front of the Latin Grocery stores

[laughs] no, those are the ones with the whistling.

You were in New York studying under Strausberg, did you get a lot of that?

Oye Mamita! [laughs]. You don't get many of those in Manhattan, but when I was in Park Slope, you do.

Do you go for a particular type of guy?

I'm not particular with looks. I know a lot of girls that are, I have friends that are, I'm not even that into a good looking guy. If he's model like or perfect looking, I won't like him. I like regular guys with a personality that outshines how they look.

So no metrosexuals?

No, definitely not. If they're spending more time getting ready than me, no.

Do you have any advice for the men reading on how to approach a woman?

Be yourself, don't try to impress. A lot of times guys get a little desperate, like this is my one chance, let me put it all out there. Be a little mysterious, don't try to land a girl on the first date. Take your time with it, don't look desperate. Some guys are afraid its gonna slip through their hands, they're gonna make the mistake.

So to promote the music are doing any sexy bikini shots, are you showing more?

The cover is gonna be carried by Target and Best Buy, I can't just be like, flaunting it all out there. But it is a sexy shot, a controversial shot. I'm holding a cigar, wrapped in sheets, a sexual connotation. A lot of people are taking the song in a sexual way. It was intended as I'm coming out with all my music, people were taking it as I'm coming. Everyone sees me as sex symbol anyways, we're kind of giving that to the cover.

Do people automatically assume you're freaky because you're a curvy Latina model?

Well, aside from the fact that I am freaky, no [laughs]. Sometimes, believe it or not, in the Spanish market, it tends to get a lot more conservative. Even though you might see a lot more skin on TV, in music, there are.. I don't want to call them barriers, but for instance we had one show say they want her on the show. A big Univision show, but she has to sing a different song. I'd rather not go on the show, because growing up in the United States, that's censorship.


You hear the radio, there's a lot of crazy stuff on the radio, but when a woman gives the impression that she's a human being or a sexual being, everyone freaks out. I'm not going to stop being an artist and who I am depending on what anyone else wants me to be or hear?

So are you naturally sexual person or is it just to push or person to push the music?

That's who I've been, that's just who I am. I have no problems with a female being sexual, its amazing to me that its 2006 and people still have a problem with a woman being a sexual being, they freak out. I do some moans and stuff in the background, people are having a problem with that, it wasn't intended to be a sexual.


The moans I think add a bit of flavor to the whole Papi thing that women like to say. The Vengo Con To wasn't intended to mean what they want. There are some other strong words in there, huevos. In my case, I intended it to mean strength, you need balls in this industry, to come out and be who you are. Couple of people giving it a different spin. That's the point of an artist anyway, put stuff out there and let people interpret it in different ways. That's the beauty of art.

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