Rising in the international music world over the last few years, with the release of his 2018 debut MANTRA and 2019's FANTASIA, Sebastian Yatra has shown his vocal versatility, genre rule-breaking mentality and love for collaborations.
In his joint efforts with heavy hitters like Wisin, Carlos Vives and Maná, with whom he sings "No Ha Parado De LLover" (a remake of the iconic Mexican rock group's 1995 song), Yatra has embraced reggaeton, pop and rock ballads, and those are only a few of the genres that make up the Colombian-born, Miami-raised singer/songwriter's song collection. It's clear that Yatra isn't subscribing to one genre or sound on his way to the top—he already boasts Latin GRAMMY nominations (he was up for Best New Artist in 2018) and top spots on the Billboard 200 and Top Latin Albums charts.
"I think genres are becoming less existent," he recently told the Recording Academy, just days ahead of the 2019 Latin GRAMMYs. "You see artists that are making all kinds of music. What we are making is good music, good songs."
It may be Yatra's gut feeling about good music that has earned him nominations in the major categories at the upcoming Latin GRAMMYs, airing on Univision Nov.14. The "Un Año" singer, who is also set to perform at the show and again at the Person Of The Year ceremony (honoring fellow Colombian singer Juanes), is up for Album Of The Year and Song Of The Year. He's also up for Best Pop Album.
The nomimations are something he still can't believe: "You tell me [I'm nominated], and it seems like a lie," he says humbly.
Although still early in his career, ultimately Yatra wants to follow in the footsteps of some of Latin America's most romantic balladeers, including Sin Bandera and Camila, and chose his Latin GRAMMY-nominated album FANTASIA, filled with ballads about love, to showcase that.
The Recording Academy caught up with Yatra before the Latin GRAMMYs to talk more about his nominated album, his latest single with Maná, his nominations and performances, his sustainability docuseries El Poder De Los Centennials and more.
You covered "No Ha Parado De Llover" at Person of the Year a year ago. How was it for you to give new life to this song now with Maná?
It is the greatest honor for me to be next to my favorite band, which I think is the greatest Latin band in history. It is also a great learning experience for me because beyond being great musicians, they are even greater humans. For me, there are two iconic bands who are legends for Latinos: Maná and Soda Stereo.
Being able to live this experience with Maná is something that if you told me [would happen] five years ago, a year ago, I wouldn't believe it. Last year I had the opportunity to sing "No Ha Parado De Llover" in front of them at Person of the Year [and] you can't imagine how nervous and excited I was. We decided to put our touch on the song so that they would listen to something different from what they had already heard and what they had sung all their lives. Keeping the essence of the song, but putting a very personal touch of mine. I would never have imagined that they would like it so much, they would want to record it together. That is just what we did. The song is great, many people like it. I'm going to start playing it during my shows, of course. I love [the band] a lot and [they] are an example for me to follow in every way. I always keep in touch with Fher [Olvera] about life, we talk about God, talk about spirituality, talk about the way he sees things, which is very special.
As a singer-songwriter, what do you like about this song in particular?
There are many phrases in the song that are special. I like that it is a song that allows any performer to enjoy it because it has very singable melodies. It is one of those songs that is also objectively very good, but you also listen to it with all your heart. Because I grew up listening to this song, you put it on and I'm filled with beautiful nostalgia, it also reminds me of moments, it reminds me of people.
You have several great musical collaborations. What do you like about singing with other artists?
I like that you have the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone, perhaps. When you sing alone, no matter how much you are inventing new things or experimenting, it's just your mind and the people with whom you're writing with, but when there is another voice, there is another way of interpreting, other sounds, and you mix that, something different always comes out, something that people have not heard before. [Something] innovative.
You're an artist who moves fluidly through genre and singing style. In your opinion, does genre still exist?
I think genres are becoming less existent. You see artists that are making all kinds of music. What we are making is good music, good songs. Be a ballad, be salsa, be reggaeton, be an opera, whatever it is. It is about understanding where one is doing well and where one can transmit and where one's essence is and where one feels comfortable and where perhaps not. I have explored many genres. There are some that have been better than others, but I always try to put my essence on the track, on the arrangement we are making.
This year, you're nominated for Latin GRAMMY Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year, Pop Album Of The Year. How are you feeling?
With everything happening in politics and with the environment, do you think that your songs can help people feel a little better?
I think so, and I think we are doing it. We are in a complicated moment for the whole world. In fact, I have just made a docuseries called El Poder De Los Centennials. I believe that as an artist one also has the responsibility and opportunity to reach people, not only through songs, but also through our words, day-to-day actions and the other things that one can do. This docuseries creates awareness for young people, for adults, and for all of us so we can work as a team to make this world more sustainable. That [we] can't only be aware that the world is going through a bad time, but that every day we do something as individuals to improve or not continue to be detrimental. It talks a lot about sustainability, I invite you to see it. It's something very nice that I did with [Colombian financial institution] Bancolombia.
Going back to the Latin GRAMMYs, what can you tell us about your performance?
This interview has been translated to English