Isabella Lovestory Wants to Seduce the World

Isabella Lovestory Wants to Seduce the World

Story by Kenna McCafferty / Photography by Oscar Ouk / Styling by Caitlan Hickey / Makeup by Jezz Hill / Hair by Blake Erik

Red lipstick smears across a funhouse mirror, the soft clink of stilettos raise dust from a creaky stage and the distorted whisper of Isabella Lovestory’s opening overture "Amor Intro" lingers on the gaping lips of an imaginary audience. "A mi me gusta el amor hardcore," her voice drawls with the speed and perversion of a single drop of saliva growing long before hitting the floor.

Lovestory’s debut album, Amor Hardcore, hangs in its own delicate balance. Told through her reimagination of reggaeton, Lovestory’s dark fairytale plays on femininity, sexual freedom and queerness. Reclaiming her dominance inside a genre traditionally steeped in machismo, Amor Hardcore builds with gentle intensity.

With the inspiration of a sex-crazed circus, Amor Hardcore is a juggling act. In it, Lovestory plays the graceful trapeze artist, the alluring magician and the commanding ringmaster, wrapping a collection of extremes and fantasies into 30 minutes and 24 seconds of pure seduction.

"I want to feel like I’m seducing the world," Lovestory says from the Ludlow Hotel lobby, her legs crossed under a brown micro-mini. The artist’s long gold-chrome nails adjust a Garbage t-shirt, drawing an apt parallel between the rebellious, subversive band that gave us "Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go)" and the “Cherry Bomb” singer herself. Lovestory’s own lips, also painted cherry red, sip on a Tequila soda, embarrassed to find I opted for coffee.

While Lovestory now seems larger than life, the singer started off small. Into the Apple earphone microphone I hold to her mouth, she jokes that she used the same mic to record her early music, only stepping into the studio during her first visit to New York City in 2019.

Now based in Montreal, Lovestory has come a long way from her Honduras hometown of Tegucigalpa, where her architect mother and radio host father bolstered her appreciation for the unconventional. Moving at age 13 to small town Virginia, Lovestory experienced personal, artistic and sexual awakenings — all of which run parallel to inform her sound and self today.

“Mariposa” introduced Lovestory as an edgy, imaginative mind in music; her 2021 remix EP demonstrated her versatility and subculture clout; and a synth-symphonic remix of Erika de Caiser’s “Drama” honed her sonic perspective. Everything she touches sparkles like body glitter and Amor Hardcore is the skin beneath it, scrubbed raw after a night of perverse pleasures.

On “Cherry Bomb,” Lovestory’s spiraling sexuality pushes up against an aggressive rhythm, while “Colocho,” more softly asserts lyrics about a cowboy fantasy. Each song captures a scene in Lovestory’s romantic tragedy, where she plays the villain pushing love to its breaking point and dancing on the shards of her own image reflected in its pieces.

Below, Isabella Lovestory pulls back the curtain on Amor Hardcore for PAPER, making our wildest fantasies come true.

Top and skirt: LRS, Bracelet: Swarovski

What does Amor Hardcore mean to you?

Amor Hardcore means hardcore love, which I feel explains who I am, like the duality of love. My personality is romantic and delicate and beautiful and sentimental, but also very harsh and aggressive, so those two combined describe how the album sounds in total because each song is a different reflection of the way that I love and my passion. Each song is a different expression of my romantic self.

Each song sounds like a different scenario or fantasy. Can you walk through them?

“Amor Intro:” The grand opening. It’s a door that opens the mansion where all the other songs are the rooms — or maybe like being in an elevator and hearing the songs go by.

“Cherry Bomb:” Fireworks. It’s very raunchy. It’s a red firework at night. It’s spontaneous love.

“Fashion Freak:” Obsession. “Fashion Freak” is a crazy bitch who is obsessed with clothes, like me, but at the same time is very careless about them. It’s about always wanting the next thing and devouring everything.

“Exibisionista:” PDA Anthem. It’s the exhibitionist side of me. I love being naked and being perverted and being watched.

“Gateo:” Lesbian anthem. In reggaeton there’s “perreo,which means male dog or doggy style. You know, it’s a very male-dominated genre, so it’s a play on words. “Gateo” also means crawl, so it’s like a feline, lesbian, animalistic anthem.

“Unica:” Love triangle. It’s me and a girl in a couple. It’s making a couple fall in love with me and get hypnotized by me seducing both of them.

“Sexo Amor Dinero:” Sex, Love, Money — basically, what turns me on. My rising is sex, my sun is love, my moon sign is money. No, I’m actually Taurus, Sagittarius and Gemini moon.

“Tacon:” My dominatrix anthem. It’s about my love of heels and putting heels inside my lover’s mouth, like penetrating and dominating someone with your heels. Stepping on people.

“Hit:” Aggression, just aggression — not physical abuse, but dominating and just grabbing someone and kissing them.

“Colocho:” This is actually a love song for a cowboy. I talk about him eating me out while I’m on a horse. I did live on a farm with 24 horses like two years ago and I was in this horrible abusive relationship with a straight haired white boy, but I was fantasizing about a curly haired man — the total opposite of who I was with, but actually like who I’m with now. He’s a curly haired Latino. I just manifested him by fantasizing about him and escaping in that fantasy.

“Keratina:” The bitchy, straight hair side of me. The type of girl who gets a keratin treatment, especially Latinas. I have a lot of friends who have keratin treatments and also love ketamine, so it’s my love for keratin and ketamine.

Top and skirt: LRS, Necklaces: Swarovski

There are so many stories wrapped up in this album, so what is the throughline for you?

It’s me documenting my romantic life because all of it has a kind of darkness. The album has that hint of darkness and obsession and toxicity that can happen in romance. I’m definitely attracted to that. I’m a Scorpio Stellium, so I’m attracted to darkness.

What role do you play in the story? Are you the hero, the damsel?

Villain. I’m trying to fuck it up, in a way. I say I’m the villain because I’m the one who’s burning everything down in every song, just fucking things up in a way. There aren’t any sugary romance love songs. It’s darker, more dramatic. It’s a cynical, chaotic love. It’s kind of like a snow globe shattering, like a situation where it's so suffocating that it shatters. That’s what I like about love. I like to feel suffocated, maybe that’s bad.

Dress: ET OCHS

There is a lot of fetish and fantasy in Amor Hardcore. What role do taboos play in your music?

It’s honestly who I am inside. It’s not like I’m trying to prove a point or anything. I do think it’s important for women to talk about sex and feel comfortable, especially Latinas in a society that is so male-dominated. I feel like we should normalize women talking about sex and feeling comfortable in their skin and not making it a big deal. That’s also just my visual taste. I really love Chiaroscuro-type feelings.

Do you feel like your sexual expression runs parallel to your music?

I just feel like music, especially reggaeton, is sexual. When I dance, I want to feel like I’m seducing the world. Dancing is very sexual. You’re exploring your body, you’re feeling comfortable in your body. So, with the music I make, I want people to be able to feel like they’re seducing the world when they listen to it — to feel confident and comfortable in themselves.

Top and skirt: Dion Lee, Necklace and rings: Martine Ali

What are some of the inspirations for the album, both sonically and visually?

I wanted to make it feel like a circus. In my mind, I envisioned a circus or a fair, where I wanted to make each song a different ride, which is present in the artwork, with the colors. I wanted it to be like something neon in darkness.

I get inspired by myself. I treat myself as a reference. I’m my own muse, but I do love movies. I am obsessed with and really inspired by movies, more than any other musician nowadays because I only listen to K-pop now. I stan NewJeans, it’s a new girl group, and Twice, BLACKPINK, Itzy, Stacy. I’m here for the girls. And Le Sserafim, I actually co-wrote a song for them that’s coming out, called “Anti Fragile.”

I love and respect their aim to be perfect. I really admire their work ethic and how perfect they aim to be, and not in the way that they’re going by any standard but just creating a mirage and entertainment. Their performances are a ritual. The music is also amazing because it’s so extreme. Each part of the song is really exploitative, exploiting the sound. It’s like what hyperpop wants to be.

Where do you want to hear Amor Hardcore played?

Everywhere. Church, the circus, everywhere. That’s the thing with my music, I want to make it accessible. I don’t want it to be exclusive. I want everybody to be able to listen to it and like it. I do love experimental music, but at the same time, I want to be accessible to all ages and all different types of people.

Dress: Victor Glemaud

Is there anything about you that you think is hard for people to digest?

I think maybe if I had a certain image that was more digestible for people I would be more famous. But I like to do things my way. I don’t want to be digestible, but I want people to digest things they’ve never tried before. I always aim to be really fresh and original.

That’s why it’s so important to me that I creative direct and art direct everything. I direct all my videos. I edit all my videos myself. I make everything, basically, which is a lot of work and has hindered me a lot. But in the end, it’s worth it to have that personal touch on everything.

How do you want people to perceive you?

I want there to be an exaggerated version of myself. Because, if I was just bare bones, I think it’d be boring. I want to be something shiny and mysterious. But I’m a Sagittarius, I give too much away. I just want people to be curious about my world. I don’t mind people being confused, because I want to be something that people haven’t seen. I want them to want more because I’m still learning about everything. I’m still super new. I’ve only taken music seriously for like, two years and I’m still learning about who I am in the music world.

Photography: Oscar Ouk
Styling: Caitlan Hickey
Makeup: Jezz Hill
Hair: Blake Erik
Photography assistant: Vincent Doria
Styling assistants: Lea Zöller and Cassie Jekanoski
Nails: NYC Nail Room