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Story / JoAnn Zhang
Directed by Sam & Andrew White
Photographer // Andrew White
Photographer // Sam Bates
Creative Director & Stylist // Phil Gomez
Beauty // Marci Saucedo
Video // Xian Gunther
Photo Assistant // Nashid Mckay

After years in New York City’s underground music scene, Bentley Robles’ new electronic pop has taken queer nightlife by storm, a tempest of equal parts glamour and blood. He aspires to the glittery exaltation of divas, and his music, like a cardiogram of the heart’s highs and lows, describes the intimate and wrenching moments of his life. His new EP, Ugly Crier, frames his ethos of glamor and vulnerability in one rarified package of music, offering the listener an exquisitely him, particularly Roblesian piece of music. The album cover— a portrait of Robles with his eyes whited-out like a man possessed— sums it up: his teartracks, glittery red rivulets on his cheeks, are the liquid version of his lyrics: they are lines, laid out— like any good poetry, any good art— in beautiful blood.

How do you tie beauty and emotion together in your life and your music?

They are chaotically intertwined, it’s taken me some time and some well-received music to understand that. The more personal I’ve got in my music, the more it’s connected. I’ve been so scared and at times embarrassed to lay my soul bare, but it’s always paid off. I see how it resonates and heals not just me but others. It’s given me the necessary perspective to delve deep and understand. 

Your music roots seem to be more electronic, but it seems you want to “conquer the mainstream pop music landscape,” and this album sounds decidedly more pop than, for example, “lay all your love on me.” How has this shift in sound played out— has it been a conscious decision, or a natural evolution? What factors do you think influenced your shift in sound?

In the beginning, I was in awe of the synth-pop greats: Ellie, Tove, and Robyn. But like any other f#g I have a true obsession with MAIN POP GIRLS, the gloss, the culture, the energy. Reckoning with my queerness allowed me to start daring to dream and imagine a world where I could be whoever I wanted to be as an artist and without those limitations I’ve figured out exactly who I’m supposed to be as an artist, and that’s the first ever main pop boy!

In terms of Ugly Crying, what things make you ugly cry today? How about 10 years ago?

Last week, it was a commercial for allergy medication, god it was good. I’m rewatching Grey’s Anatomy for the third time and ooof that gets me going every time. Also Camila Cabello at Coachella???? That’s MY girl. I was so happy to see her back on stage I wept. I can’t wait until I’m her special guest at Coachella in 2027! I Luv Her!

10 years ago my tears were less cathartic and more wasteful, I no longer shed tears over people or things that don’t deserve them anymore. I think that’s called growth.

Tell me about some of the biography— the anecdotes, life experience— that went into these songs.

Ugly Crier is a series of diary entries from the deepest, darkest, and ugliest parts of my heart. A lot of people say they wear their heart on their sleeve, and to that, I say I wear my heart all over. I’m an emotional mess covered in blood for all to see and there’s proof of this when you stream my music. I no longer care what people think of me, I’m empowered to feel, to be queer, and to be loud. These songs are me and I am them, there’s so much more to come!

So you’ve been on tour for a couple weeks! How has performing this album live been? What has receiving audience reaction and interpretation been like?

I’ll go on the record now and say that touring is my favorite part of all of it. It feels like a reward for all the blood, sweat, and glitter tears I pour into my music. To get on stage, in a room full of people who are as excited for me as I am for them, it feels like I’m bringing an hour-long music therapy session to the masses, and my only goal is that people leave feeling lighter, brighter than they did before. 

Where did your love for music come from? 

The Mexican me is about to jump out right now! My Mexican parents raised me on the divas Belinda, Paulina Rubio, and Selena. So from the youngest age, I had a fascination with music and the power of the people making it. I was engrossed, and then one day around 12 I started to sing and I haven’t stopped since! Music, specifically singing was the only thing I enjoyed during my tumultuous teen years, it gave me purpose. 

Where do you hope to see yourself in 20 years? 

I want to have more Grammys than Beyonce, a personal chef with his chef, a chihuahua sanctuary, 17 #1 songs, and a house under the ocean.

Or I’d trade all of it in order to just still be doing exactly this, it’s what I’m meant to do.

Who are your biggest inspirations? In music and in life? How have they influenced your life and work? 

I mentioned the divas above, but along with them was the woman who introduced me to all of them. My mom. She is the original diva, she showed me what it is to be strong, to be fabulous, and most importantly to persevere. She allowed and inspired me to be myself, to dream, she is my biggest supporter. 

I look to all the pop greats for guidance – what they did, how they did it, why they did it. We’re in this weird space where main pop has taken a back seat and it’s almost frowned upon, everyone is alternative and cool and in their own lane. So if anything it’s that, it’s my (and Dua Lipa’s) mission to keep main pop alive. And if I do say so myself we’re doing a great job.

Necklace, Heven by MARC JACOBS. Corsetm SEKS. Pants, QUEERA.
Gloves + Shorts, LANEROS. Shirt + Boots, Vintage.

Blazer + Pants, QUEERA. Corset, SEKS. Necklace, HEAVEN by MARC JACOBS.



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