La Princesa Del Mar
Photos By: Olivia Robinson
Our world is a battlefield of taste, and the only path to victory is proving to have the greatest taste of all. Each day, we arm ourselves with what we consider to be the finest music, shows, and clothes. We step onto the battlefield, ready to crush all enemies that try to wound us with the notorious phrase, “ew, you listen to that?”. This holiday season, I am here to deliver a magical gift, an invincible weapon that’ll strengthen your arsenal and hone your musical taste into one of ultimate eliteness.
I present to you “Wish You Were Here” by Niko Rubio, La Princesa Del Mar.
Before you assume my admiration for the singer is artificial, allow me to say this: I was not told to make you love her. This is simply my monthly article, and this month, my task was to write about the up-and-coming singer I had interviewed a month prior. Her name happened to be Niko Rubio, and she just happened to be an amazing person, and someone I will definitely be supporting from now on. My task was never for me to convince you to support her, but after discovering her platform, I want to. I want to because our world has too many “influencers”, and as blatant as this may sound, many of them are the same: pretty, “aesthetic”, and really good at angles.
I want to convince you because after speaking with her for only thirty minutes, I realized that Niko Rubio is real. She does not try to be the picture–perfect version of what an idol should be. Niko Rubio is an individual, and you frankly can’t find another one like her. So, allow me just ten minutes of your day to convince you; not as an FDZ writer turning in her monthly article, but as a person who has made a great discovery, and wants to share.
Often, one starts informational articles the same way. And while I desperately want to begin by telling you that Niko Rubio is a Mexican–American singer-songwriter that was born in LA, I wish to start with a more interesting hook. Here’s my first attempt: Niko Rubio’s love language is poetry writing. That’s right, she does not hug you (my love language!) or give you a present when she wishes to express her love: she writes you a poem. When I was speaking with her about this, she shared that she and her boyfriend often write poems for each other – I almost began to tear up.
And you say romance is dead.
This love language is pretty self-explanatory, as before she discovered her passion for singing, she first divorced writing. You see, despite being born in LA, Niko Rubio did not live the lavish life we all expect LA natives to live. Niko Rubio is a real person, one you can most likely relate to some way or another, and her life did not consist of growing up in a mansion on the upper hills. Her mom had her at the young age of eighteen, working two full-time jobs to support her daughter as best as she possibly could. During our conversation, Rubio fondly recalled that whilst she always grew up near the beach, her apartment was always one of the smallest in the area, and she and her mom often had to share a room. Writing became her outlet when she yearned for privacy within her mind.
When she wasn’t writing in her room, Rubio wrote at the beach. She’s a pisces; being from the water, she shares a deep connection with the ocean. Many of her childhood families were from the beach, when she and her mom would buy cups of fruit and “just chill” by the shore. “You go to the beach because it’s free,” Rubio said while laughing. The beach is also a place for many firsts in her life, like first dates, her first kiss, her first time being alone…it truly comes as no surprise why many of her songs discuss the beach or PCH. LA natives, her songs will definitely bring you a strange sense of belonging. Those who aren’t from LA, do not fear; many of her songs simply discuss hope, love, and home – something we can all relate to so deeply. To her, those relate to the beach, while to you, it may relate to something a bit different.
By the way, did I mention Niko Rubio has the coolest grandparents ever? As Rubio grew up and began to explore her passion for singing, her grandparents took over and began to nurture it. Her grandfather took her to singing lessons, and her grandmother paid for them. It was a “team effort” through and through, as Rubio put it. “When you’re in an immigrant family, everyone helps out”. This help did not come without an agreement, though; if her grandparents were to support her music career, she had to sing in Spanish. Seems like an odd request, yet it saved Rubio from disconnecting from her Mexican heritage and culture.
Growing up in the nineties, Rubio’s mom knew what it was like to be bullied for speaking more than one language, for being different. She never wished the same upon her daughter, and so she shied away from teaching her Spanish and much of the Mexican culture that came with it. “[Her] grandparents were like f*ck that,” said Rubio. And thank the universe they did. Without them, Niko Rubio would never experience the connectivity she now feels with her culture. What’s more, the world would never be gifted “Amor” – her first released Spanish song, available on the EP “Wish You Were Here”, which is a fascination in its own right.
Believe it or not, “Amor” makes Niko Rubio a pioneer in Spanish music. When speaking about the song itself, Rubio described it as “kind of an indie-pop song”, which is quite rare to hear in Spanish music as of now. That’s the type of music Rubio wants to put out in Spanish – connecting her culture with who she is as a writer. In my eyes, that is quite monumental and inspiring to do. Of course, as Rubio shares, it was much harder to write a song in Spanish. Not only was it in a different language than what she is used to writing in, but it was also the first song she was to release that would be completely in Spanish. She wanted it to be just right. With the soft guitar tune and her heartwarming singing, it truly came out incredible.
Some songs take five minutes to write, others take years. Niko Rubio and her producer, Andy Seltzer, can put on the same guitar loop for over five – yes, five – hours, and just let Rubio do her thing. She’s a writer at heart after all, so during the production process, all she cares about is being part of the song’s story. She doesn’t have to produce it, she doesn’t have to direct, she just has to write it. The story has to come from her. This was especially true during the writing process of “Wish You Were Here”. As her first ever EP, she felt that, “[she had] to be very selfish with this”. She wanted to make sure that the EP had as much of her vision as possible, that it was truly her, so all of what you hear on that album comes directly from her heart, mind, and the tip of her pen. Only two songs on the EP served as an exception, for which two co-writers helped Rubio in shaping the storyline of the lyrics: Nick Long with “Saving Me”, my favorite piece of hers and John DeBold with “You Could Be The One”.
There is so much more to Niko Rubio. Perhaps it’s her astrological sign, or perhaps it has to do with knowing what it’s like to experience hardships, but Niko Rubio is one of the most caring people I have met. At one point in time, I asked her what she imagines to do once she reaches complete success. Some people would say rest. Others would say strive for more. Niko Rubio wants to use her success to help every student struggling with mental health.
Growing up in a Mexican household, she knows what it feels like to live in an environment where mental health is just not something that’s discussed. She knows what it feels to not “get a vacation”, what it feels like to look around and think, “why is my life different from others?” and wonder whether or not that’s okay, if the difference takes away from your worth. She knew what it was like to be taught “a million different things”, not knowing which is right, but knowing that the hundred different opinions can leave you afraid and confused. And it’s because she gets it that she wants to help. As her platform continues to grow, a major goal of hers is “to go to elementary schools and middle schools and bring in actual therapists…because we didn’t have that”. She wants children to have the opportunity to be reassured that it’s okay to be different, that some families have single parents, or that some don’t get to go vacationing to Europe every summer – and that’s okay.
So yeah, on top of her phenomenal singing, Niko Rubio is extremely caring. She’s caring to the point where she’d write letters to her supporters to check up on them if social media didn’t exist, which she mentioned after discussing the sheer excitement she had after her concert with Chase Atlantic. Meeting so many people, making so many new fans, performing in her hometown with her mom, grandparents, and everyone who works on her music coming to watch… to her, it was absolutely surreal. Niko Rubio is truly an individual, one of a kind.
After all, not many I have spoken with aspire to own a sparkling water brand when they grow up. She’s quite addicted to soda right now, and another goal of hers is to do something about that for her and her fellow soda addicts. What better way than with a sparkling water brand, or perhaps a fashion brand of her own. The latter won’t help much, but it’s still another goal of Rubio’s, who’s a lover of fashion through and through. To her, fashion is another beauty of the world. She’s read all the magazines since the age of ten. She knows it all by heart, and she loves it. To her, fashion brings everyone together. “It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter your race, color, ethnicity, gender…if you have good taste, you have good taste – no one can take that away from you”.
I hope your curiosity has led you to the end of this piece, and that my voluntary convincing has led a spark of curiosity – or perhaps, admiration – towards Niko Rubio, the Princess of the Sea. Perhaps it did, and perhaps it did not. Either way, I still recommend you to take a chance on her newest EP, and every other single she’s released. Who knows, perhaps in the near future, as you sit at one of the beach-side cafes that was opened by Rubio herself, sipping the sparkling water of her own making, you’ll have the pleasure of telling others that you discovered her first.