One listen to any of Mariana Velletto’s records, and you’ll immediately fall in love. Hailing from Upstate New York, specifically a small town called Utica, the singer-songwriter has been working relentlessly in the studio perfecting her craft. While she’s a certified “Bad B*tch,” the title of one of her standout records, she still finds room to learn and grow — while chasing her dreams on the daily.
The turning part in Mariana’s career happened a few years back, when her stepmom actually heard her singing in the bathroom. Belching the lyrics to Alicia Keys’ “Unthinkable,” Mariana was forced to get over her shyness and become open to singing for other people. Transitioning from working part-time jobs to now focusing on music full-time as a career, the rising star proves no goals are too small when you’re doing what you love.
AllHipHop: Talk about your Ja-Talian roots and how that plays into your life and career.
Mariana Velletto: It does completely, it actually defines who I am as a person. I grew up with my Italian side, so it’s a very close-knit family. They really stuck to morals and traditions. Every Sunday, we’re having pasta. We’re always around family. That helped me grow the character of I always want to be around my family, I give a lot of love to everybody. Then my Jamaican side is a little more spicy, with the music, with the food, with dancing. It roughens me up. Because of that, I give a sweet and spicy side.
AllHipHop: Who were you listening to growing up?
Mariana Velletto: All the time, it was Beyonce and Rihanna. Beyonce is everything for me, but Rihanna has that Caribbean side. I’m half-Jamaican. Her whole energy and vibe, I love listening to her.
AllHipHop: What part of New York are you from? How was that growing up?
Mariana Velletto: I’m from upstate New York, it’s called Utica. It’s very different from being over here. The whole transfer coming here, it’s not really the city-like. There’s not much going on, there’s not many opportunities. Coming over here, it’s different. It’s a culture change, a scenery change. There’s pros and cons to it. Utica has my heart, but I’m trying to expand out of it.
AllHipHop: How long have you been in LA now?
Mariana Velletto: Going on 3 years, still fresh. I like West Hollywood. I like going there at night, the scenery.
AllHipHop: What jobs were you working before the music?
Mariana Velletto: I was doing retail at a store. I was a waitress, you make good money when you leave at the end of the night. I’ve never complained about that, but it’s tiring doing that all day. People are rude. I was going to become an assistant manager at a business my friend was starting, she was opening up a store.
AllHipHop: I was bumping “Bad B####,” talk about creating music that gives girls confidence, reminds them of their worth, etc.
Mariana Velletto: I like to do that because I’ve been into a feeling where I didn’t feel like I was what everyone else was telling me. They’re telling me “oh you’re pretty, oh you can sing.” I wasn’t confident in it because I let other people bring me down. It’s very important if I’m going to be put in a position where I can share things with others and have them be inspired, do it in a positive way.
AllHipHop: Why did you name your debut EP, 2020?
Mariana Velletto: Because 2020 has been crazy as hell, s###’s crazy. It put a hold on everything but that’s when I found myself, in 2020. That’s when I found out what I want to do, my lane. I started writing heavily. In a sense, that’s my 2020. It’s my whole music, what I’ve found.
AllHipHop: I was going to ask how quarantine affected your art, obviously in a positive way because this EP came out.
Mariana Velletto: 100%, because I had nothing but time. I’m practicing writing, singing. I’m trying to grow my voice. I had time for me. It helped me find myself too, which is important when you’re a writer. No matter what I do, I always want to involve myself in writing. I want it to be a piece of me, authentic. It definitely helped me in a positive way, it helped me find myself.
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio?
Mariana Velletto: I need wine, I really need wine. I need some honey-lemon cough drops. I need my phone, because I write on my phone.
AllHipHop: How did it feel to get a billboard?
Mariana Velletto: It’s crazy to me. I have one on Sunset Boulevard, and I have one in the valley off Winnetka and Ventura Blvd. It didn’t hit me until I really seen it in real life. It’s so crazy. It’s amazing to me because I come from somewhere so small, you don’t even think you’re ever going to do anything like that. Honestly, that’s how my mindset works. To see that, that’s crazy.
AllHipHop: Besides Rihanna and Beyonce, who’s your dream collab?
Mariana Velletto: Chris Brown and Drake.
AllHipHop: What did you learn from working with Jazze Pha?
Mariana Velletto: I learned how to really be versatile, honestly. The song I made with him, it’s different from what I normally work on. Because of his vibe and his energy, I was able to catch on and know now that I can do stuff like that.
AllHipHop: Any other producers?
Mariana Velletto: I have an upcoming thing… I don’t even really want to say yet. I want it to happen, but it’s big people. I’m working with more known producers now.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let us know?
Mariana Velletto: Stay tuned because I’m really trying to make a mark. Stay tuned to know who Mariana Velletto is.