Valentina Vazquez, known by her stage name okayceci, is 21 years old and just started making music at age 18, but she’s already amassed nearly 200,000 TikTok followers and over 2.6 million Spotify streams for her first single, 2019’s cheeky, minimalistic “feel u.” Her fourth and latest single, “love bug,” follows in the footsteps of her earlier songs, with dreamy production and playful lyrics as she basks in the excitement of new love.
“You could be my love bug baby/And if you wanna we could get crazy/Like maybe driving in your car/Going pretty far/Tell me who you are,” she sings in an airy voice against laid-back guitar strumming. The earworm lyrics and melody are hypnotizing and practically beg to be blasted out of a window on a sunny day. Her goal with it, unsurprisingly, was to create a “repetitive, quick, catchy song for the car.”
The song was inspired by the early days of Vazquez’s relationship with her girlfriend, telling the story of “a crush or a relationship that just started — you know, when you get butterflies, like a new romance,” she says. “It’s just my second relationship with a girl, so it’s a lot of butterflies.”
The artist likes to write about her relationships with women in order to normalize same-sex romances. “There’s not that many girl singers that rock out for a girl,” she says. “I try to make more music that’s girl-for-girl just so there’s more LGBT-type music — we need more representatives in the community.”
She recorded the song, like the rest of her music, on her own laptop. Typically, her producer/manager 199X Sound sends her a beat, then she improvises the song over it and sends what she likes back to him.
Vazquez has no formal training in music; she simply always enjoyed singing and decided to try writing songs one day in high school. “I just recorded on my iPhone, found some beats I liked, and that’s how I did it,” she remembers. Her artist name comes from her middle name, Cecilia, and a YouTube convention of putting “okay” in front of your name. She cites singer-songwriter and YouTube star Clairo – with a similar bedroom-pop style and LGBTQ themes – as her biggest influence, as well as Doja Cat, SZA, and Spanish-speaking artists like Bad Bunny (she herself has incorporated Spanish lyrics into her music).
After her breakout single “feel u” — which also spawned a danceable, disco-reminiscent remix — she released 2020’s “falling on me,” which features angelic echoes, infectious beats, and fun, flirty lyrics: “Likely, yeah, I like girls, they excite me/Hi me, I’m trippin’ on the weed, it excite me/Fight me, I do not fight but I’m feisty/Put it on my face, make your girl wanna try me.” Then, earlier this year, came “pink,” a dark, sassy, hip-hop-influenced single celebrating okayceci’s signature look and essence.
It’s not just okayceci’s catchy tunes that have rapidly garnered her fame, but also her endearing social media personality. Her Instagram bio simply reads “ur cute,” a phrase she’s considering as the title for her debut album, and her photos are full of hot pink hair, eye-catching fashion, and attitude. On TikTok, she posts intimate, musically illustrated snippets of her daily life, from dyeing her hair to playing with her cat to dancing to her own music with her dad.
She chalks up the success of her music in part to TikTok, particularly of “falling on me,” which features singer/songwriter Kinneret. After a TikTok trend of students doing their homework while listening to Kinneret’s “No Wind Resistance!” blew up, Vazquez noticed tons of people were suddenly streaming her music, too.
“We did the song ‘falling on me,’ and then she out of nowhere blew up on TikTok, so it was perfect timing,” she remembers.
Vazquez is currently compiling a collection of songs including “love bug,” “falling on me,” “pink,” and “feel u” into a debut album. “It’s very soft and, I would just say, cute,” she says of the project. “I kind of dip into some urban and go back into my main song ‘feel u,’ which is bedroom-pop Clairo-type music.”
Currently, the Miami native is learning guitar and also plans to learn to produce so that she can make her own beats. “I’m still in the process of learning, but I definitely want to be involved in the music-making for the beats,” she says. She and her girlfriend recently moved to LA so that she can dive more deeply into music, and given the scrappiness and creativity that’s characterized her career thus far, it’s exciting to imagine what she’ll do with even more support and focus.
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