With the recent release of her first Spanish language single in nearly a decade, De Una Vez, Selena Gomez is sharing a new side of herself. The song’s title roughly translates to “at once,” and within the lyrics, Gomez delves into themes that are all too relatable. Heartache and spiritual growth have always made for great songs, and the tale told through De Una Vez has resonance no matter what language you speak. “[It’s] such a beautiful song and I think it has a very powerful meaning behind it for anyone who has had their heart broken,” says Gomez. “We all have the pain and the scars from various experiences we go through in life, but it’s really how we heal ourselves. Not only is it about leaving the past behind and forgiveness, but more importantly, it’s also about strength, moving forward, and starting your next chapter.”
As the song pushes Gomez into new territory, she wanted the corresponding visuals to be impactful. The project needed to be handled by directors with a deep connection to the material. “If I was going to completely immerse myself into a project inspired by Latin culture, I wanted to work with native Spanish speaking creators,” says Gomez. Husband and wife team Tania Verduzco and Adrian Perez, a.k.a. Los Perez, proved ideal creative collaborators. Hailing from Mexico and Spain, respectively, the versatile pair met while studying film in Barcelona and have in the last decade created commercials for everything from Pepsi to Candy Crush. To tell the story of De Una Vez, they sought to create an emotional journey. “We thought that the song had a sincere and personal message, more of the woman than the artist,” says Verduzco. “We had to bring that to light [because] it’s a song about a mature woman healing a wound, leaving the past behind, and entering into a new chapter.”
To convey that idea, Gomez and Los Perez leaned into the concept of magical realism. The genre, known for its merger of real-life issues and fantastic occurrences, is synonymous with Isabel Allende, Gabriel García Márquez, and Laura Esquivel. “Magical realism has always been part of the Latin culture, whether it be in art or telenovelas,” Gomez explains. “I wanted [to capture] that sense of a supernatural world.” Creating that sensibility meant utilizing Mexican cultural references, including that of the sacred heart, a motif regularly found within folk art from the nation. “We wanted to play with powerful language and images,” says Verduzco. “We designed the heart—we call it the Milagro in Mexican culture—and its light to be a metaphor for the healing throughout the story.”
Pinned to the center of Gomez’s puffed sleeve floral Rodarte dress, the piece is a focal point within the video. But every element of Gomez’s outfit serves a purpose. The silk Rodarte flowers are a subtle nod to Frida Kahlo, while the jewelry showcases the talents of Mexican designer Daniela Villegas. “We wanted to have these connections, to create this look, and to play with the amazing flowers the way Frida did, but making it modern and cool for right now,” says Verduzco. “The flowers on the dress, hair, and within the video all connect with this idea of renewal.” Gomez enjoyed the botanical motif. “I love the role nature plays in the video as well and how it represents healing and growth,” she says. “How it represents healing and growth.”
Bringing the ideas to fruition was complicated by the coronavirus crisis and its travel restrictions. Unable to fly to Los Angeles to film, the directors were beamed in via laptop. “It was an unusual experience [because] this was our first remote shot,” says Perez. “Because we wanted to shoot everything as a single shot with hidden cuts, it was even more complicated.” As they filmed into the wee hours to get things right, the team was motivated by the star’s work ethic and willingness to collaborate. “She’s one of those performers where you know that they are fully committed,” says Perez. “Music videos are about taking you into the world of the artist, and hopefully people will like the video, but they’ll also get to see another side of Selena, one perhaps more emotional than what they knew before.”
Describing the process of working with Los Perez as “magical,” Gomez appreciated their innate understanding of the track. “From the very beginning, they got the sense of what a great love anthem the song is and how to bring it life visually,” she says. With the melancholic, magical video now online for all to experience, Gomez wants her audience to see the silver lining within the lyrics and the visuals. “I hope the message of hope comes across after acknowledging the pain and hurt,” she says.
Originally published on Vogue.com