Helen Ochoa is a true example of turning heartbreak into success. The regional Mexican singer looks to her own life — romances, hardships, and everything in between — for inspiration for her music. And in a male-dominated genre, Ochoa is determined to make her voice heard.
We talked to the singer about her new single, her place in Mexican music, and more. Read it all in our exclusive interview below.
Tell us about your new single.
It’s called “Ahora Soy De Él”, and it relates to my story. It happens to all of us – we think we’re with the right person, we give this person our all, and sadly, sometimes we win don’t win. And sometimes, unfortunately, there are circumstances that don’t allow that person to give you their full attention or the kind of respect or the kind of love that you give to them but that you deserve, simply because maybe they were raised that way or maybe they’re not that kind of person or maybe they’re just not that into you, but whatever reason, it’s kind of the way love works. In my case, I was very hurt for a long time – for sure I thought I wasn’t going to find anyone else and that I should just not look for love. And then life kind of surprises you and somebody else comes along when you least expect it. They show you the true meaning of being respected, of being well-treated and just being happy. For me, this experience facilitated this plan for the song and I was very fortunate to co-write it with someone who’s produced countless songs for so many artists, including myself and some of my colleagues. So we co-wrote this song and I’m so blessed that everyone is getting the message – they’re liking the song and everything from radio and YouTube, it’s all been phenomenal.
What was your inspiration for the music video?
The video was so much fun because I got to film it in Mazatlan where my mom is from, and as a child all of my vacations were to Guadalajara, where my dad is from, and Mazatlan, where my mom is from. So I grew up visiting there every single year as a kid, so I definitely wanted to do some type of recording there. And this song was just the logical thing to do there – with the breeze, the scenery, just taking me back to my childhood. It was like destiny just pulled it all together, and I was super blessed to be able to work with such a great team out in Mexico. The director and I talked about how we didn’t necessarily want to show a woman and a man fighting – that wasn’t what we wanted to base the video on. What we wanted to base the video on was basically this woman looking out into the ocean (almost like looking into her dreams) and just saying ‘I’m going for what I deserve, I’m going for what I know is best for me, and I’m no longer going to look back.’ I think we were able to capture that in the video.
How do you think this song differs from others you’ve done in the past?
I’ve recorded so many songs about breakups and related to love and I think it’s definitely songs that I can related to, because I’ve done through so many ups and downs when it comes to love. We’re all in different situations, but at the end of the day, life goes on – we’re still working, we’re still doing our day-to-day activities. But this one in particular is different because it’s the first that’s a single that I co-wrote. So I was very fortunate that the label loved it, and we’ve put so much heart and soul into that song and we’re so happy we’ve been getting good feedback.
How did you first get into singing when growing up?
I’m the fifth of six sisters, and oddly enough, out of all of my sisters and all of my cousins, I’m the only one that sings in the family that sings of the kids. But it pretty much happened with my uncles would bring out their guitars during family parties. My cousins would be outside playing and I’d be outside the house just kind of listening, and I just fell in love with the music. I couldn’t leave, I just wanted to stay there and hang out with the adults! I remember bits and pieces, but my mom said I used to sing for the kids in the neighborhood with a broomstick. I think with time I started listening to a little bit of everything because I had Mexican music from my parents and then I had Madonna and Tupac and all these other American artists from my sisters. And then when I got introduced to Selena – she was my first love, and I wanted to be her, of course. For me, music was always an outlet for almost anything. It was always my go-to, but my real starting point was at my sister’s quinceañera when I told my dad I wanted to sing with the live band and he told me ‘You’re crazy, go play with your cousins!’ And I was so disobedient that I went up and went to sing with them anyway. I just went for it, and I loved it – I loved the feeling of being on stage, I loved the fact that everybody was super shocked, of course, but I fell in love with the feeling of just being up there and the whole idea of it. No matter what I tried to do outside of music, it still remained my go-to. It was always just an itch I had to scratch.
What other artists that you really looked up to growing up?
Michael Jackson, definitely. I loved how cautious and passionate he was about his music and those are things I can definitely relate to and identify with because it was something I felt – super picky and very hard on myself. I rehearsed every day for two hours; I did it on my own. In terms of Mexican singers, there was Rocio Durcal, Juan Gabriel – I grew up listening to them from my parents, and I just loved the lyrics. I wanted to understand why they were singing those songs and my dad always told me ‘One day you’ll know.’ And now I do know!
What do you see for the future of regional Mexican music? What about collaborations?
Sometimes as artists we think things won’t work but honestly, I feel like there are no failures when it comes to music. You can literally collaborate with any artist and if both are feeling it, it shows in the music. I’m totally for collaborations with artists of different genres. I, myself, have bigger dreams than just what I’m doing now. I want to do so many things, and people may think I’m crazy sometimes but everyone’s dreams are valid. I, myself, would love to hear more of my music in other countries. I hate that it’s called “regional” – I wish it was more worldwide and universal in itself but I feel like nowadays we’re seeing a little bit more fusion in the music. I’d love to collaborate with artists like Marc Anthony and maybe that’s a long term goal, but why the heck not? It can happen – I’m definitely a dreamer and a person that believes that if you work hard, good things happen. And I’m totally for women in Latin music, especially Latin women collaborating in music. I just love when women come together, and when it’s music, it’s even better because it’s something that we need to see more of. People love collaborations of different natures, especially when it’s somebody coming out of their comfort zone in music.
Do you think there isn’t enough representation of women in Latin music?
I think there is, but it’s the opportunity. There’s a lot of female – not just in my genre, but in the whole Latin music market. What it is is that machismo still is lingering in the opportunity. We have it, and we’re there, and we’re knocking on the doors. We just need for them to open them – let us in, but its there.