“They call us the crystal generation, but we are really fighting day by day for our mental health”
Samantha Gilabert (Alicante, 1994) rose to fame in Operación Triunfo 2020. Its edition was marked by the pandemic, which forced the contestants to leave the academy and return after the state of alarm. However, despite the potholes and being at the gates of the final, the singer has not failed to meet goals: the first, to release a solo album five months after leaving the program. The second, to publish a book of poems that was published last year. Now she is immersed in the summer tour of ‘Nada’, and this Friday she will perform at the Negrita Music Fest, in Virgen del Mar (Santander) together with artists of the stature of Nil Moliner or FERNANDOCOSTA: “There are people who believe that you come out of OT and you have everything done but it is not. You leave OT and you have to work, you don’t leave with a gold record under your arm.
What do you think of fame? Is it the least beautiful part of dedicating yourself to music?
Well, it depends, because fame has two parts: the beautiful part, the part of the fans in which they follow you, fill your concerts, write you beautiful things and keep an eye on you. And then there is the other part that really is the one that you have to take into account the least but the one that makes the most noise, because they are more negative things and weigh much more. You can take beautiful things and go lightly but the negative part, which is that non-constructive criticism or comparisons (which in the music industry if you are a woman they are continually comparing you), you have to deal with it in a positive way, and learn to manage it, but it is not always easy. In addition, everyone is aware of your movements, whether you are with your partner or not… It is difficult but in the end you learn. And fame compensates, at least for me.
Spinning with that question, have you ever considered if you would like to reach the top? Sometimes it’s just more comfortable to stay away from the masses, right?
No, I’m fine now but I do want to aspire to everything. Let’s see what happens, this road is still beautiful, but I want more. I didn’t know what it was like to be here, and sometimes I think that with how well I used to be singing in the hotel without so many worries or stress, but I really don’t… So well, now I say yes, but I don’t know what it’s like to be there either.
The case of Operación Triunfo (OT) is especially striking because it goes very quickly from not being famous to being famous. In this time of uncertainty for young kids, do record companies take advantage?
The record companies take advantage of the boom that there is as soon as OT comes out, but it is necessary. I also want. But the truth is that, at least mine, they helped me, they explained everything to me perfectly, I didn’t do anything I didn’t want to… they were super friendly. They knew that I came from nowhere and that I didn’t understand too well, but the truth is that they were incredible. But you never do something you don’t want to do, they also want the artist to be happy.
He leaves the academy in June 2020 and releases an album in November. How was that?
They were very crazy months, I met a lot of people, I started to compose like crazy… I went from Madrid to the town and from the town to Madrid because I still didn’t have a flat and we were looking for it, but it was very cool. Very fast but I experienced it as something very beautiful and with which I grew up. I also left OT motivated but there was a pandemic that was stopping everything.
It has caught my attention to hear her say that she does commercial pop. Do you like the ‘commercial’ label?
I think business today is everything. Everything that is consumed becomes commercial. And we are also living in a time when music is constantly being renewed. If I make something that sells, it will become commercial at that time. Although I do pop, it’s clear, whether it’s commercial or not.
I also wanted to ask you if there is a certain arrogance on the part of some artists with the OT contestants…
Not directly, but I have heard comments from people who believe that you come out of OT and have everything done, but it is not like that. You leave OT and you have to work, you don’t leave OT with a gold record under your arm. There are exceptions but this is not always the case. And you have to work afterwards. The opportunity is incredible, and there is no other program that gives it to you, but then you have to work hard and keep your feet on the ground.
You have openly talked about going to a psychologist since you were little and that you needed him when you left OT. Is the mental shock that you suffered when you left that great? Does it also happen when entering?
When you enter the shock is great but you are not aware of anything because you have no cell phones and you have no contact with anyone. It all comes down to being in a wonderful bubble where the only problem you have is singing and that’s it. But when it blows up and you go out, real life hits you in the face pretty hard: on social media; down the street, because the people who have known you all your life no longer see you the same way. You have to learn to manage a new job, new people, you go out on the street and they know you, even if there are four of you, and learning to manage that alone is very difficult. I couldn’t, and I had to ask for help, and it was the best decision I made. It’s that the world eats you up because there are like three realities: the one before OT, the one during and the one after. The world eats you…
All the contestants were very aware of political and social causes. Does this have to do with them dedicating themselves to music?
I don’t know if it has to do with that or that we also come from a more aware generation. They call us the crystal generation but we are really fighting day by day for our mental health and we are super aware of how important it is to get to know each other and learn from others, and I think that shows on a mental level and on the level of the conversations we have with each other. . The mental health of women also depends a lot on feminism, on there being much less misogyny and machismo… that also includes men, because feminism affects them. It is very important to have a very clear idea of what we do and how we do it to be much better with ourselves. We don’t stop being ourselves, so we are a representation of young people.
You suffered the controversy first-hand on account of, supposedly, being an independentista. Does this show that Catalanophobia exists?
It exists, but I am Valencian. I spoke Valencian and I had to be an independentist, it just doesn’t make any sense and it doesn’t hold on to anything. Catalanophobia exists and there are still many people who continue to look badly at people who do not speak Spanish when, for me, the richest thing we have in this country is the diversity of culture and the co-official languages, which are precious and I wish everyone could speak them. The truth is that I don’t know… they called me Catalan as if it were something negative, when first of all I’m not Catalan but I love Catalonia like the Catalans. It is my second home because Catalan is also my second language. But people are also confused about Catalonia. But even so, you ask yourself what would happen if that were the case… I love my language, I love Valencian and I will continue singing and speaking in Valencian, and I also love Spanish, and I will continue singing and speaking in Spanish.
And you are not afraid that some doors may be closed to you?
I don’t think so, but if it happens and someone criticizes me for it, then the problem will be theirs and not mine, really.
Have you felt the pressure of being a young woman when it comes to image?
Yes, of course, any woman who is in the industry or who appears on TV, or who is public, has that social pressure. The good thing is that many women are letting go of that ballast and we let ourselves be seen as we please, but there is social pressure that forces you to always be pretty and thin. But, as I was saying, many women are already aware and others are on the way, and I hope that is the case because otherwise it is impossible to move forward. Real bodies are all and we are all real. And you get tired of going out without makeup and being told that because you have a washed face you are sad or something bad has happened to you.
And do you think you still have an obligation to prove more than a man?
Of course. We always have to show more because we have to sing, dance, compose and do everything well. Try to go out without your clothes being super fancy or without going super cute on a stage because you will be singled out. On the other hand, a man can afford whatever he wants. And it has also happened to me from musicians who tell you how to do things as if you had no idea. But I think there are more and more men in the industry who are not assholes and who understand that we all have the same role here and are equally valid.