‘The Four’s Stephanie Zelaya Talks New Single, “Stronger Now”
One of the original members of The Four in season two was Stephanie Zelaya. Known as the “Guatemalan Queen,” Stephanie brought her fierce vocals and dynamic performances to the stage every week. Since being on the show, she has been hard at work on her music. Stephanie just released her first single since The Four, “Stronger Now,” which is available in both a Spanish version and a Spanglish version. The song is an empowering, upbeat song about rebounding after a tough breakup.
We caught up with Stephanie Zelaya to talk about her journey on The Four and what she’s been up to since! Here is our interview with her:
Talent Recap: What was the process like becoming one of the original members of The Four? We obviously see the audition process for the challengers but what did that look like for you before the season started?
Stephanie Zelaya: I was approached by one of the producers of the show. They told me they had been researching talent globally to have four people that they thought represented the best independent artists now. So they reached out to me about the show and said that if I was interested, I could audition. I was like, “Okay!” It was super interesting because it was something, honestly, I never thought I would be a part of. So I sent a couple of videos singing acapella. One of my original songs and a couple of covers.
Then they approached me again and said that I made it to the second round of auditions, which was through Skype because I wasn’t in LA at the time. That was very interesting, I had never sang before on Skype. It was like a room filled with people and me singing through the phone.
After that, they told me they wanted to have me for the final round of auditions, which was live. So they flew me to Los Angeles and I auditioned for the executive producers. That night they called me and told me I was chosen to be one of the original four! I was super excited. It was something that I wasn’t expecting. I was really blessed to be chosen as one of the original four because it made me feel like they saw what I was doing and that it had value.
TR: So I know you have been working hard and releasing originals for a while now, even before The Four, which is unique because a lot of artists are pretty new to the music scene when they come on these shows. But how has everything changed for you since you’ve been on The Four?
SZ: It was definitely an incredible experience. It was the first time I got to do what I love, how I’ve always dreamt of doing it. Obviously, being in a production like that that’s so incredible, you get to work with not only Meghan Trainor, Diddy, and DJ Khaled, but all the people behind the scenes who help you enhance your art. Being a part of that, it’s been an amazing journey. As an independent artist, you have to find creative ways to do your music and release it. It’s definitely a super fun but a tough journey I’ve gone through.
So when I was chosen as part of the show, it validated what I was doing. Every single day, always working on your voice, your moves, your performance, doing interviews. It just exposed me internationally to something that I was never exposed to before. And especially performing on that stage! With that incredible band, with the lights, with the audience, it was so different than what I had done before.
TR: Let’s talk about your new song, “Stronger Now!” First of all, we all love it over at Talent Recap. It’s very fun and upbeat but also has a great, personal message. What was your inspiration for that song? Was it about anyone in particular?
SZ: Most of my songs, I write myself. Even though most of them are love stories, there are a lot of experiences that I can relate to. This one, it wasn’t something that happened to me personally. But I think throughout my journey, I’ve encountered a lot of doors that close or people that tell you you’re not good enough or you should be doing this. A lot of negative messages. They have taught me that in the end, your strength comes from within. It’s inside you. If you are sure of what you want and the dreams you want to achieve and you’re willing to work hard for it, you can say I’m stronger now and continue fighting and prove everyone wrong. I wanted to do something so people felt like they can be who they want to be. It doesn’t matter if some people don’t agree with it.
Even being on The Four, it’s definitely amazing. You get exposed to a lot of new people who love your art. But it also makes you stronger because you also get exposed to people who don’t like it. But at the end, it just proves how much you love what you do. If you are passionate, you have to keep doing what you do because people will notice. You have to be yourself. Value that you are different because you are going to inspire a lot of people by being unique.
TR: Definitely. That’s such an important message, especially in today’s society and the climate of the world right now. So with that, what made you decide to release both a Spanish and a Spanglish version of the song?
SZ: Well honestly, since The Four, I am getting a lot of fans who don’t speak Spanish. I was used to just speaking Spanish on my social media. But with all the new fans, I started writing in Spanglish and they started appreciating it. They would write me messages saying they were learning Spanish with me! After all the love I’ve gotten since I’ve left The Four, from around the US and around the world, people who connected with my energy or the way I sang and what I was doing, I was like, “I do music for people. ” And if some of the people who are listening don’t speak Spanish, I want them to understand the message that I’m sending with my music. So from the moment I recorded the Spanish version, I also wanted to record a Spanglish one.
TR: That totally makes sense. And what you were saying in there too was that a lot of people were drawn to your energy and to your performances. That’s something that really translated to your new music video too! What was your inspiration for the “Stronger Now” video?
SZ: Oh, I love creating the videos. It brings to life the inspiration for the song. For me, I started the video dressed as someone that I am not. They made me dress that way. The reason why I take off everything and become who I really am, it represents how you need to get rid of the negativity and all those comments, everything that surrounds you that doesn’t make you better. Because once you get rid of that, you can really shine and show who you really are. Then people are going to see you, like my ex did in the video, and they’re gonna say, “Wow! This is what I missed.”
TR: I love that. And I think The Four gave you a platform to do that as well, to show people who you really were and display who you are as a person and a performer.
SZ: Totally! I am super blessed having been a part of The Four. I opened myself up to a lot of new fans who didn’t know me before that now I call friends. A lot of people from the show had been so aware of everything I do! They commented on everything and even helped me release this new song. Now, people who didn’t even speak my language are listening to my music and I’m able to share that with them as well.
TR: So what can we expect to see from Stephanie Zelaya next?
SZ: I am working on a new album now in Miami! I am finishing up a few new songs and I am trying to release one more before the year ends. Then preparing the new album that comes next year. It will have not only Spanish songs but some Spanglish versions so people who don’t understand Spanish can still vibe with them. And definitely doing some shows! I can’t wait to do something in LA and Miami and New York. I want to connect with the people who have been so present with me since The Four. So a lot of things are coming and I’m super excited! I try to post as many updates as I can on social media so people feel like they’re part of my journey.
TR: Well we’ll definitely be on the lookout for everything that’s coming and we know our readers will be too! We’re excited for what’s ahead for you.