I first met Vancouver-born Prado while assisting at the NEXT Manila Grey cover shoot (her sister and creative partner Zuleyyma is one of the city’s most hyped up-and-coming photographers). I was already familiar with the LA-based artist—everyone who’s anyone in the Vancouver scene has partied to Prado’s sugar-sweet voice and bad-bitch beats—but it was undeniably cool to meet her in the studio that birthed some of her most iconic tracks.
She’s royalty in the underground scene, and for good reason. Even at the cover shoot, in overalls and sweats, she exudes the energy of a pop star, radiating a kind of likeable confidence that makes it clear she knows her shit. Simply put, she’s cool—and in her music, she radiates a kind of self-aware braggadocio that makes you want to see her win as much as she does.
She’s fresh off the release of her EP Elastic, but she’s nowhere close to slowing down. Her prodigious work ethic has produced a slew of singles over the past six months and a new solo EP, Prado Monroe, debuting in June
She says her first inspirations were the rock and hip-hop her mom played to her growing up, and those diverse influences make sure no Prado record sounds quite like the last. Her upcoming, eponymous EP is a pop record on steroids, and when she played me a teaser over her studio’s bass-boosted speakers, I was immediately obsessed. On some tracks, ethereal vocals and celestial production make her sound like a cooler, more authentic Grimes. At other times, she’s an unbothered, quick-rapping pop princess.
The centerpiece of the EP is her latest single, Gucci Store, which uses coyly capitalist imagery to tell a story about resilience and success.
The track’s confidence is a manifestation as much as it is an act of rebellion: as a Black and Indigenous woman, the path she’s carved out for herself hasn’t been easy. Racism and sexism in the industry are rampant, and she’s often had to respond to not being offered a seat at the table by building completely new tables for her and her community.
“I genuinely just think that if I was a man I’d be way more ahead,” she says. “The only way you can make a name for yourself in the industry is by building out your own network, by building the community of people that you support, and who support you as well.”
She often performs with collectives and in spaces specifically for racialized femmes, like Vancouver’s NuZi Collective—but despite those pockets of community, her local scene still has a long way to go.
“The music scene needs a better community. Even online community is crucial to building an ecosystem here in Vancouver.”
Her ethos as an artist is built on this community mindset. To Prado, her wins are her community’s wins. “We’re all growing and I can see it. I’m so proud when I see people doing better artistically. No more gatekeepers.”