Faces of NPR *Latin Heritage Month*: Anamaria Sayre
Faces Of NPR showcases the people behind NPR--from the voices you hear every day on the radio to the ones who work outside of the recording studio. You'll find out about what they do and what they're inspired by on the daily. This month, we feature NPR's Latin community. Next up is Anamaria Sayre.
Name: Anamaria Artemisa Sayre
Title: Co-Host, Alt.Latino
Where you're from: Southern California
Twitter Handle: @AnaSayre
What are you looking forward to as the new co-host of Alt.Latino?
Bullying Felix more? [laughter] No, I think the thing that has been most exciting to me is just sitting down and getting to have conversations with these artists and realizing just how much I connect with who they are and their stories. It's really a beautiful thing to be able to sit with them and be like, Oh my God, this thing that you're talking about, about who you are or where you're from or your family, there's almost always something that they say that I'm like, I get that so hard. That is 100% how I feel, or that's something I grew up with too, or whatever. And so I think that I'm really excited to be able to continue to have those conversations and develop those relationships. And then in that same sense, to be able to bring that to people, to bring that to a larger audience and build a community around those moments. The show's barely been out, right? But to have people come up to me like, "Oh, that moment where you said that thing about, you know, your family always doing this and the artist said that same thing and I have that same thing happen to me," like, whoa, that's incredible that I get to help people have that moment and connect with someone that they care about and that they musically care about. But then to also have the human connection is really, really exciting for me.
Now, what aspects of your identity do you think are most important to bring to the show?
That's a good question. I think it's interesting because Felix and I, in many ways, in the grand scheme of Latino-ness, latinidad, we're actually pretty closely aligned. We're both California Mexican-American, have shared experiences, musical experiences too, in that sense. And so I kind of joke that it's Alt.Latino, but is it really alt.Mexicano? Like, a little bit? But I don't think there's anything wrong with that. You are who you are and that's what we lean into. Also there's a lot that I bring as a young person, growing up into a very specific moment. I think especially mental health comes up all the time in these interviews, I think at least once every single interview, whether explicitly the words "mental health" are said, or it's just an artist talking about, you know, where their head's at or why they're making the work that they do or the challenges that they have representing themselves and their communities in a more visible way. And a conversation I've had with Felix a lot is, I'm like, it's not like mental health is a bucket topic. It's who people are, right? Everyone has mental health. Every single living, breathing person with a brain has mental health. The state of it is variable, but everyone has it. And so I think that I've really enjoyed being able to bring that element into the conversations and have honest, open, vulnerable conversations with these artists about these things, not in a "we're talking about mental health today" kind of way, but just like, how are you doing, where are you at? And I think that the context I grew up in and the generation I grew up in has been something that's really allowed me to feel comfortable doing that. And so that's been cool. And also being a woman, you know, it's just different. And I get to bring that piece into it and have those shared moments. I mean, being a woman in music is very different than anything else. And I relate to a lot of what these Latinas are bringing in. And so that's cool, too.
So what kind of stories are important for you specifically to share and tell?
I just love family stories. I love personal stories. I mean, that's a huge thing we're trying to do at the show is like, who are you? And I think a lot of that's driven by me, because I'm like, I just want to sit here and hear your whole life story. And I love hearing about people's families, their abuelas, their tios, their everyone. I think that you can't have Latino life without music and you can't have it without family. And those things are so intertwined. And so I just love, like, tell me about your crazy tio, and how has that impacted your music? Because it probably has. So, yeah, that's my favorite part for sure.
How's the dynamic with Tio Felix? I'm genuinely curious, because Tio Felix is older, but he's also talking about pop culture. So how's the dynamic with him, and then how's the dynamic with him including pop culture?
He's so funny. We argue all day long, in the best way. I think we probably disagree on literally all of the things, but it makes for the most interesting conversations. And I think that's just representative of the different ways that we approach life. And we always come to an agreement within 5 seconds. It's literally like what it's been like growing up with my family, it's the same. I actually have a tio who is literally exactly like him. Like, they would be best friends.
They have to meet.
They have to meet. We keep saying that. But Felix is so tapped into so much music and history and culturally relevant things in such a vast way. Like, he has significantly more knowledge than I do by a lot. It's just that I sometimes fill in the smaller gaps and explain to him who, like, Olivia Rodrigo is. Other than that, he can tell you everything about everyone who's ever touched Latin music or music generally. I just kind of like I'm like, Oh, this thing on Tik Tok, or like, Bad Bunny, you know, the drama with this or that. Like that's what I'm here for.
How do you feel about hosting? I know you've been in front of the mic for a year and a half, but is it a lot of pressure? What does it feel like?
It's definitely getting easier. Before interviews or even just taping, hosting, talking with Felix, before, I would get, like, stage nervous. It would feel like I was about to go up and perform something. I was like, "Oh my God, I'm about to talk to Rosalia. What if it doesn't go well or she hates me?" There's definitely a lot of that. But I think less and less I feel that way, because I think the more I do it, the more I'm like, "Oh, this is actually just having a conversation and we have a lot to talk about because we're connected in these ways, like I mentioned, and I love your music and I respect you as an artist." And so that's the immediate connection point. So yeah, I think it's getting easier. I really love it. I leave every interview totally jazzed. I'm like, that was so fun.
That is so sweet. We saw the Tiktok with your granny and it was so cute. I want to know, how much has your grandmother influenced where you are now?
Oh, my God. We call her Lita, which is short for abuelita, and she is just like, everything to me. She is just such a shining beacon. I was like, this is what it means to be an empowered Latina who just does whatever is on her heart. And she has always, always, always fought for what she believes in and done it with a lot of spunk and fire and heart. And she's just like the type of person that really wears her heart and her feelings and her sometimes controversial opinions on her sleeve, and I've always really admired that. And sometimes, growing up, I clashed with it. And I think now that I'm older, I have such an incredible appreciation for it. I'm like, wow, if I can go through every single day with the same amount of heart and the same amount of energy that she does, I'm set for life.
So what do you want to highlight in the reimagined Alt.Latino? Why is this podcast important?
Felix has spent the past 12 years making something really beautiful, and that really speaks to the heart. It's really hard because, I think people who aren't Latino necessarily will look at us, at the community, and be like, "Oh, they're Latinos." But to have even an inkling of an idea of how expansive the community is — I do my best to try to bring a lot of stories and voices, and so does Felix. But I have no idea what it feels like to grow up as a Peruvian-Brazilian living in Chile. I just don't. It's so broad and there's so much to represent and so many stories to tell. And I think what Felix has done a beautiful job of, over the years, is not only pretty successfully doing at least some of that work and also being mindful about it, which is really amazing — and I think we're trying to bring that and highlight that in the new show. And I think also, he's done a really good job of finding that intersection of, you might be in Colombia, but you probably still grew up listening to cumbia, and actually, cumbia is not just in that tradition, but it's also in Mexico. And it's also finding ways to really highlight those commonalities. I think that is something he's done really well. I think we're trying to make that more pronounced in the new version. And one of the ways we're doing that, like I mentioned, is getting into personal stories, because I might not know what it means to be, you know, like I said, Brazilian-Peruvian growing up in Colombia. But I do know what it's like to have an overbearing abuela or whatever it might be. I'm not calling my abuela overbearing! Or maybe I am. But there are certain human things that everyone can relate to, and music that everyone can love together. I think that's the starting point, and that's what we highlight. And then you get to build out from there and create a bigger community around that.
Yeah, that's exciting. And my final question for you. Who is your dream guest or what's your dream --
Oh, Bad Bunny. I know that's right, okay.
I'm like, oh, let me spend a couple more seconds thinking about it. Yeah, no, it's still Bad Bunny.
What would you talk to him about?
I just think he is such a force and so, so pivotal in the culture right now. But also as an individual, such an interesting person and so representative of, I think, this huge wave in like Latin music right now, but also in being Latinx and Latino, and this wave of just being so upfront about who you are in a way that I think previous generations were not. And he is truly unapologetic in a way that I think really matters for people, because to see someone like him really showcase every part of who he is and not explain it, just do it and be like, everyone fall in line and be okay with that, that matters so much. And the music is just [clicks tongue]. Even I showed it to my Lita and she was going off dancing to it. I mean, talk about intergenerational work. I can't even put into words the love that I have for him.
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