Sweet Taboo

American Song Contest stars Sweet Taboo on their California influence

The breakout stars of Sweet Taboo—Jen Torrejon, Sami Ramos and ICP Bre—are about to represent the state of California on NBC‘s singing competition American Song Contest. The Latina girl group are vying for a spot in the semi-finals in Monday’s last qualifiers episode. They’re an excellent choice to perform for the Golden State, as all three of them hail from Los Angeles, and spoke to me about the influence that their hometown has on their music.

“Being from L.A., it’s the culture. Hip hop is in the culture,” Sami explained. “You grow up around it. You’re walking down the street, you hear someone blasting it out of their car. You walk into a taco shop, you hear it blasting over the speakers. And then of course, having that Latin influence too, it’s just embedded in all of us. And I think anybody who comes to L.A., when you’re here, you feel the culture. You hear the music everywhere you go. You’re totally immersed into it. So we’re very fortunate to grow up around that.”

Sweet Taboo achieved huge social media success with their cover of TLC’s hit “No Scrubs” that was featured on GRAMMY.com as part of the site’s “Reimagined at Home” series. But as American Song Contest viewers are about to hear, they also spin their own original hits, like the catchy “Lil Bit.” I asked the group what they feel makes their sound unique.

“I think what’s so special about our music is that a lot of it is Spanglish. It’s bilingual—we speak English, we speak Spanish,” Sami continued. “We really add who we are into our music. So you can really feel that in the essence of it. When you’re listening to it, it’s not like you’re just listening to another song. You can hear each one of us and you can hear each personality and who we are, which is very special. And I think people can really relate to who we are through our music.”

“We all have different inspirations,” Jen explained. “I grew up listening to a lot of R&B music and Motown music, like Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, just a lot of those powerhouse singers. That was kind of my inspiration growing up. And I’m sure Bre, with listening to her hip-hop, it was a different inspiration for her too. And then same with Sami. We all have our different stories, but we all have a love for R&B and hip hop.”

“Most definitely,” agreed Bre. “We combine it together and I feel like that’s what makes it sound so cool and so different. We want to be very versatile. Hopefully one day we come out with a country song, because I really want a country song too!”

It’ll be a surprise what they’re performing on American Song Contest, which has also featured such incredible acts as The Voice winner Jordan Smith, musician/actor Riker Lynch, and Grammy nominee Jewel. But when the entire point of the show is representing one’s state, it makes perfect sense that NBC chose a group who isn’t just from California, but has Los Angeles’ musical culture embedded in their DNA.

American Song Contest airs Mondays at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. To hear more from Sweet Taboo, visit their YouTube channel or check them out on TikTok.

Article content is (c)2020-2022 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.

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