Young Miko: ‘My greatest accomplishment in life is having told my dad that he’s done working’

Although her birth certificate says her name is María Victoria Ramírez de Arellano, her audience (including 26 million monthly listeners on Spotify) knows her as Young Miko. This Puerto Rican reggaeton star, and the face of Loewe’s new ad campaign, is a global artist with the blessing of Karol G and Bad Bunny. Her adventures have just begun

Young Miko
Singer Young Miko wears a complete look by LOEWE Paula's Ibiza.THOMAS WHITESIDE
María Porcel

Young Miko doesn’t know what imposter syndrome is. When asked about it, she squints her eyes and slowly shakes her head. “I don’t know...” she answers, hesitantly. After the description of that ballast of feeling like a fraud that haunts millions of women, the 26-year-old Puerto Rican singer and songwriter shakes her head again. She has none of that. In the last five years (she began uploading songs to YouTube in 2018 and in 2022 released the first single of her dazzling career), Young Miko has released fifty songs with Bad Bunny, Karol G, Bizarrap, Bad Gyal, Tokischa, Nicki Nicole, J Balvin... Before becoming one of the most listened-to artists (she doesn’t like to label herself as a reggaeton singer, rapper, trapera...) of the moment, María Victoria Ramírez de Arellano Cardona was many other things. The girl from Añasco, Puerto Rico, the daughter of a seamstress, the middle sister of two boys, the manga and anime lover who knows that if she goes to Japan she won’t want to come back (miko is Japanese for priestess), the professional soccer player, the dedicated art student who finished college just to please her parents, the tattoo artist who inked half the island (she called herself Samurai Miko), the girl who uploaded her music to SoundCloud, the young woman who doesn’t want to stop sharing a house with her friends, the queer icon who loves to be on stage and, now, the face of the latest Loewe’s Paula’s Ibiza collection ad campaign.

Young Miko, Loewe
The artist in jeans and LOEWE Paula's Ibiza ribbed tank top.THOMAS WHITESIDE

You’re only 26 years old, you’ve gone to college, you’ve had a career... and in a couple of years you’ve made a name for yourself in music. How and when did all this happen?

It’s been so fast that I feel like I’m just kind of getting it together, processing things from months ago. As I’m getting to know other artists, I’m realizing that it’s quite normal, that it’s a very fast and busy life. Right now, you’re asking me what I did yesterday, and I have to think, because we do so many things every day that... My god!

Sometimes you are referred to as the female Bad Bunny. What do you think about that?

Obviously, I’m Young Miko, but I take it as a compliment, and I appreciate it. Benito is amazing, very loving, very talented and I love the fact that he’s from Puerto Rico. I felt very comfortable with him, I loved it.

Young Miko, Loewe
The artist wears a LOEWE Paula's Ibiza tank top and necklace. THOMAS WHITESIDE

And in this industry, do you notice any female solidarity?

One hundred percent. It’s noticeable. I consider Kany, Villana, who is our baby, Karol, I adore her, Nicki Nicole, Cazzu, who sometimes writes to me: “I hope you’re well; I’m sending you a hug.” Yes, there is [sisterhood]. Maybe you can’t see it, but you can feel it, I’ve been lucky enough to feel it. Also professionally, I absorb, I’m a sponge.

Are your lyrics feminist?

At the end of the day, feminism is not so much equity, it’s more justice, I feel, and freedom of expression and [being able] to do whatever your ovaries want, without being afraid of anything and in a safe space. But I think just standing in front of a microphone and saying I like women is pretty feminist; but yeah, I try not to think about it, really.

Young Miko, Loewe
Young Miko in grey LOEWE Paula's Ibiza skinny jeans and crop top. THOMAS WHITESIDE

Who are your influences?

A little bit of everything. My dad loved English rock. The Police. AC/DC, Pink, The Beatles, Bob Marley, Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney, U2... I was very little, but that’s what we listened to in the car, I’d sing Hotel California without knowing what the fuck they were talking about [she laughs]. And my mom loved Spanish rock: Kany, La Quinta Estación, Julieta Venegas, Paulina Rubio, Maná, Jarabe de Palo, Abba too... Some really badass bands. That’s my playlist almost every day. And then my older brother and an older cousin: Tupac, Nash, Souls of Mischief, The Fugees. That’s when I started making my own mix and discovering women like Lauryn Hill, Gwen Stefani, Fergie...

You take in a lot of pop music...

I love Dua Lipa, Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, I saw him in concert. Anderson Paak, Bad Gyal, I know all of their songs.

Young Miko, Loewe
White acetate glasses and a black LOEWE Paula's Ibiza tank top. THOMAS WHITESIDE

If you could work with someone completely different from you, who would it be?

If I could do something with Juanes I’d break down, I’d die. Big dream, eh? And SZA, and Doja Cat. I can imagine singing with La Oreja de Van Gogh. And doing a ballad like Julieta Venegas [hums]: “Eres para mí, me lo ha dicho el viento [You are for me, the wind told me so].”

How have they taken your foray into music at home?

I remember telling my mom that I wanted to do music and she said: “My God, María Victoria, I’m going to get gray hair because of you, finish studying.” The diploma is the only thing my parents have ever asked me for in my life. I remember my mom talking to my younger brother, and he said to her: “But why are you surprised, why are you scared? Everything she’s done has turned out great. She got into soccer and played for the national team, she became a tattoo artist and tattooed all of Puerto Rico. Now she wants to be a singer: she’s going to do well.” And my mom [said]: “You know what? You’re right.” I’m very lucky to have such good parents.

Young Miko, Loewe
LOEWE Paula's Ibiza knit sweater and two-tone Bermuda shorts. THOMAS WHITESIDE

There, Miko denies imposter syndrome. “Look at the way I’m sitting,” she laughs, legs crossed Indian-style, half lying down. “I think being in the closet too long was enough, not anymore.”

You were in the closet that long?

As a little girl, you don’t know.... How the fuck are you going to come out of the closet without being completely sure! You’re getting the hang of it. You were taught one thing, your body and mind say another, your heart, another. It’s a super-mega process. And I never had a gay person in my life. You start to mature, you get into your teens, you get to college, you leave home, and your mind kind of opens up. You say, “My God, how come I’ve been suffering all this time if nothing’s going to happen?” I’ve made my peace with that and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

Young Miko, Loewe
The artist wears LOEWE Paula's Ibiza woven-letter T-shirt and sequined skirt. THOMAS WHITESIDE

What about your parents? Was it hard for you?

I couldn’t help but think: “My God, what are others going to say,” or “My parents this and that,” or will they accept me, will I find someone who feels the same way, will I find someone who likes me? Everyone has their own battles; it is important to choose and know where to put your energy. At the beginning it was not easy. My parents are not bad people, they had to unlearn to relearn, and thank God they love me so much that it was like, “No, I want to understand, I know it’s okay.” Now my dad watches RuPaul’s Drag Race because he knows my brother loves it. It’s great.

You know you’ve become an icon?

That word weighs on me a little bit. But in a good way. It makes me feel like I have a lot of responsibility, a nice responsibility. I’m sure there are responsibilities that are not so much fun. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to process it, partly because I grew up with a lot of freedom. A perfect example: I wanted to play basketball when I was very young and there was no women’s league in western Puerto Rico. My dad, very innocently, told me: “Well, go play with the boys.” Since you’re little, nothing seems abnormal to you, you don’t think it shouldn’t be done. When I go out on a stage with a microphone with the flag, when I say I’m like this, I’m like that, it’s because I want to. I try not to let go of that little girl inside me, who doesn’t mince words, who doesn’t think about things so much, if she feels good she does it. Sometimes I try to let her guide me.

Young Miko, Loewe
LOEWE logo towel from Paula's Ibiza.THOMAS WHITESIDE

You’ve said that rest is just as important as work. Have you ever said enough is enough?

I don’t know if it’s to the point of “no more, I’m going crazy,” but yes, for example, last year with our first world tour we realized that six shows in a row, six days is like.... Fuck off! I was really tired. When I opened Karol G’s tour in the United States, I was doing my tour in Latin America. I was going from Costa Rica to Chicago, from Chicago to Guatemala, from Guatemala to Boston. Like a pinball. There were shows where I almost didn’t make it, flights were canceled, and fans waited for hours. Karol saved our lives, God bless Karol, because she lent us her private plane. She didn’t have to do that, she is a queen, she deserves everything in this life. And we said: we’re never doing two tours at the same time again.

What did you think when you were asked to star in a fashion campaign?

When I was a little girl, sometimes I would see magazines, and I would say: “Oof, being on a cover would be dope.” So, when they asked me, I died and went to heaven. I am a big fan of fashion. Loewe is having a very big moment and Karol [and] Bad Gyal were some of their past models. I said yes, one hundred percent.

Young Miko, Loewe
Wearing a LOEWE Paula's Ibiza striped polo shirt and denim shorts. THOMAS WHITESIDE

You manage your own social media. Does it cause you anxiety?

Sometimes it does. As much as you don’t want to, you’re still human. And sometimes you read something you didn’t mean to and it’s like poof, and it’s one comment out of millions. It’s about picking your battles, where you put your energy. I use TikTok, but sometimes I even forget that I go on my social as myself, as Young Miko [laughs], I get videos of puppies and funny things, I forget, I have fun.

Thanks to your musical career, you are giving your family financial stability. What has that been like?

If you ask me what my greatest accomplishment has been in the past few years, with everything we have done: buying a car, buying a house, the trips, the sold out shows... I’d choose telling my dad that he is done working [she gestures excitedly].

Is your family your priority?

Of course it is. I don’t need a mansion. And I don’t need a Porsche right now. I’m happy in my guagüita [pickup truck]. I’m happy in my apartment. Eventually... things will grow, and some things are going to have to change. But I’m at peace where I am, I’m not in a hurry.

Young Miko, Loewe
Young Miko wearing a bucket hat, cotton sweatshirt and two-tone shorts by LOEWE Paula's Ibiza.THOMAS WHITESIDE

Basically, you want a simple life...

I swear, sometimes I think things like, “I don’t want to draw attention to myself.” If I go out in a Porsche, a tinted Ferrari, oh shit, everyone will be looking at the car: “Let’s see who’s going to get out of there...” Versus going out in a quieter car that no one pays attention to. It’s even safer. And anyway, if I’m traveling so much, it’s just sitting there, collecting dust. When I’m a little calmer and I want to buy a little toy for fun, well, I’ll do it. But I don’t see myself moving out of Puerto Rico for a long time, so why am I going to buy a house in another place that is not my home? Resting in Miami versus resting in Puerto Rico, my parents are just an hour away, my brother lives near me, the beach, the arroz mamposteao [a rice and beans dish], the mofongo, the amarillitos [fried sweet plantains].

Where do you see yourself, not in 10 years but in two years?

I want to feel the same, the way I feel now. Calm, happy with what I am doing, growing and evolving. I want to look over and continue to see my children. I want daddy and mommy to stay relaxed, to be retired.


Styling Marc Forné 
Makeup Jonuel Nader 
Hairdresser Pablo Macías (Prima Talent) 
Local production Emmanuel Tanner (Eiger Agency) 
Production Cristina Serrano  
Styling assistant Gabriela Alvarado 

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