La Doña Serves Dembow With Magic Mushrooms in ‘Penas Con Pan’

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

Singer La Doña is in bed in a dark room wearing a chiffon robe.
A still from La Doña's music video for 'Penas Con Pan.' (Photo: courtesy of the artist; illustration: Kelly Heigert)

Welcome to Pass the Aux, where KQED Arts & Culture brings you our favorite new tracks by Bay Area artists. Check out past entries and submit a song for future coverage here.

At just two minutes long, La Doña’s “Penas Con Pan” is a small but addicting dose of dembow and salsa. Its beat is perfect for the dance floor, and when La Doña unleashes her powerful voice in the crescendo—absolute chills.

The San Francisco artist has studied various Latin American musical traditions since starting out in her family band as a child, and this track is a perfect example of how she expertly builds upon her influences to create her own style with vision and intention. There’s an enigmatic aura to how she sings in English and Spanish about unrequited love, using it as a metaphor for survival.

La Doña wrote the lyrics about how “someone is withholding from the singer, but also how we make do with the scraps of what comes,” she told me before she hit the road to South By Southwest in Austin, where she’s performing at not one but six showcases this week.

Naomi Garcia Pasmanick, who sings and plays saxophone in La Doña’s band, directed the “Penas Con Pan” music video, and the visuals are just as alluring as the track itself. It opens in a redwood forest, where we see La Doña foraging for lavender-capped mushrooms. She leads us into a cabin where she’s making a potion for the lover in question out of mysterious herbs and fungi. The vintage ’70s aesthetic of the wardrobe and the interior is very Northern California and very cottagecore—with some high-femme glamor and sparkle in the mix.