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Mau y Ricky On Adding Punk To Their Reggaeton-Influenced Sound On 'Rifresh' & Life In A Musical Family

Mau y Ricky

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Mau y Ricky On Adding Punk To Their Reggaeton-Influenced Sound On 'Rifresh' & Life In A Musical Family

The Venezuelan singer/songwriters tell GRAMMY.com about the creation of their new album in quarantine, how proud they are of their brother-in-law, Latin GRAMMY-winner Camilo, and more

GRAMMYs/Dec 10, 2020 - 07:01 am

Mau y Ricky are reinventing themselves on their aptly-titled new album Rifresh. Finally finding success as artists with their blend of pop and reggaeton on their 2019 debut LP Para Aventuras y Curiosidades after songwriting for years, the Venezuelan-born brothers used their time in quarantine to revamp their sound and image for their sophomore album. A little over a year after releasing their debut, the punk rock and '80s influenced Rifresh, released on Nov. 20, takes them to an edgier place musically.

On the new album’s vibrant cover, Ricky sports his Cruella de Vil-like black and white hair as he playfully kicks Mau in the groin, leaving behind the calm, cool and collected rock star demeanor displayed on their debut. There's a looser vibe on the album as well as the brother duo bounce around on rambunctious bangers like "Fresh" and "Mi Moto." It’s clear: They're enjoying the ride this time around and showing it.

"I feel like right now we're obsessed with evolving and doing new and different sounds and concepts that not only differentiate us from the rest, but most importantly, differentiates us from what we've done in the past," Mau tells GRAMMY.com over Zoom. "I think that's the beauty of evolving."

The evolution didn’t come fast for the singer/songwriters—it took them nearly a decade to find themselves as artists. Mauricio "Mau" and Ricardo "Ricky" Montaner, Jr. are the sons of Ricardo Montaner, the GRAMMY-winning Argentine icon who received a Latin GRAMMY lifetime achievement award in 2016. They began their careers as balladeers, following in their father’s footsteps when they began to make music as MR in 2011. But after not quite breaking through, they shifted gears into songwriting, penning hits like Becky G and Natti Natasha's 13-times Platinum "Sin Pijama" and Ricky Martin and Maluma's "Vente Pa' Ca," for which they received a Latin Grammy Song of the Year nomination in 2017.

In 2018, they found their pop groove as Mau y Ricky with their reggaetón-influenced breakthrough single "Mi Mala'' featuring Karol G. A year later, their debut album followed with Platinum success. They have become go-to collaborators featured on hits by Mexican superstar Thalía, Argentine pop princesses Lali and Tini, and Puerto Rican reggaeton OG Nicky Jam. They went global this year when they were invited to sing in Spanish on the remixes of John Legend's "Bigger Love" and JP Saxe's "Hey Stupid, I Love You." They have also brought GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Camilo, who married their singer/actress sister Evaluna Montaner earlier this year, to the forefront on their multi-Platinum singles "Desconocidos'' and "La Boca."

Now with their new sound, Mau y Ricky are “exploring the possibilities and showing the people that there is no limit,” Mau says.

The guys chatted with GRAMMY.com about Rifresh-ing their career with the new album and life in a musical family.

What's the experience like to work together in Mau y Ricky as brothers?

Mau: As brothers, it's a beautiful experience. We learned that our relationship is actually our biggest strength, and our connection as brothers I feel is what differentiates us from the rest of the people.

Has your dad Ricardo Montaner given you guys any advice on the industry?

Ricky: Throughout our entire life, we've seen his example. I think being grateful is the biggest advice. To always look at everything as a gift. Being able to write songs and do what we love for a living, I think that's beautiful. And appreciating every single step of growth. One is always focused on the end goal, but we tend to forget the small steps that it takes to get there.

The "Mi Mala" remix with Karol G, Lali, Becky G, and Leslie Grace was your first big hit as Mau y Ricky. How did your lives change after that song?

Ricky: That song definitely changed our lives. We did "Mi Mala" and the remix. Both those songs kind of set ground for us to start building off of that. We were able to grow a lot after that—and knowing that we played, even if it was just a small role, in this Latin women movement by having all these beautiful and talented artists on one song: Becky, Karol, Leslie, and Lali; It was the first song in Spanish to have that many women on it—To know that we were a part of that, I feel like that's a dream come true. We didn't do it intentionally. We just thought it would be really dope. It's beautiful and really set the way for everything that happened after that.

There are notably no artist features on rifresh. Why did you guys decide to do that?

Mau: When we decided to make this album, one key decision we made was to have no features. The beauty of a feature is that it's kind of [finding] that middle ground; having to surrender to certain things and the other artist doing the same and meeting in the middle. In this case, we were very clear on what we wanted, in our minds and hearts, to communicate on this new album and what we wanted to happen in our career, that evolution and that growth. We had to make sure that that message wasn't scattered. A lot of times when you work with other people, your message has to take a back seat, so that you're able to work as a team. It doesn't mean we won't do that in the future. We already started working on features on some upcoming projects.

Manuel Turizo has uncredited vocals at the end of the song "Dolería."

Ricky: That was a dope surprise we wanted to do for our fans. When we did the first arrangement of the song, we pitched my vocal down. We put it low so that it sounded like Manuel Turizo. It was a little bit of a joke. Then we thought it would be really cool to actually have him on it. The day I proposed to my girlfriend, [Stefanía Roitman], I was so nervous that I needed to get out of the house and ended up going to the studio with Manuel an hour before proposing. I was in the studio recording his part.

Mau: Rick was so nervous. He didn't even tell me. I called him like, "Yo, where are you?" Because we were an hour away from him proposing. He's like, "I'm at the studio." And I'm like, "What in the world are you doing at the studio? You're about to propose!" He's like, "I'm cutting Manuel's vocals." I'm like, "First of all, you're about to propose. No. 2, what the heck? You didn't let me know that you were cutting his vocals."

There's a punk rock influence on songs like "Pápas" and "Fresh." Where did that inspiration come from?

Mau: It comes from the music that we grew up listening to. It's this kind of hint of an influence, which I love. Most of it is in the album's aesthetic or in our music videos. We wanted to explore the possibilities of reggaeton music being combined with music like punk rock. We feel like people didn't think that could happen. We're here exploring the possibilities and showing the people that there is no limit. Anything can happen if you do it with excellence and love. If you actually believe in and be genuine to who you are, it'll sound dope.

You worked with Bad Bunny's main director Stillz on your wildest music videos for rifresh like the creepy "Ouch." How did those collaborations come about?

Mau: During the quarantine, we found out Stillz was Rick's neighbor. We ended up reaching out to him. We started creating all the concepts together. It was a creative, awesome relationship growing through these videos. Most of the videos have come out already, but there's still some that haven't come out. In our opinion, they're some of the greatest music videos out right now. Stillz is one of the top directors. It's a huge honor to be able to work with him. He allows us to be extremely crazy with our ideas. We allow him to go crazy as well with his. We fit together.

What did you think when John Legend invited you guys on his "Bigger Love" remix?

Mau: We had two crossover moments, which are wild, in this quarantine: John Legend, like you're saying, and JP Saxe. Those two are our favorite collabs we've done. We went straight to the studio to write our part for that song. We sent it. They loved it. John actually asked us to do more, so we went back to the studio to record some more. It's crazy to me because he's an artist we've admired for awhile. JP Saxe is our favorite artist in the world. We've become friends with him in the past year. We have a beautiful relationship. He invited us to become a part of that remix and it's our favorite song.

How did you feel seeing Camilo win the Latin GRAMMY for Best Pop Song for "Tutu"?

Ricky: So excited! I busted my lip celebrating it. I'm still in pain. So much pain. We've all gotten nominated, but he's the first one in our family to win one.

Mau: It was this family moment, we all celebrated as if it was our own win. It does feel like it's our win. We're proud of him. He deserves it. Nobody works harder than him.

What can we expect from you next?

Mau: After "Ouch," there's two new videos coming that you're going to freak [about]. They're crazy and also with Stillz. There are a couple songs that we'll be releasing with other artists. One in particular comes out very soon with our entire family, which is a surprise that I wasn't supposed to tell, but because it's you, I'll tell you. It's our first song as a family that we're ever going to release together. It's one of my favorite songs in the world.

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Tyga Talks Inspiration Behind "Go Loko" & Collaborating With L.A. Rappers Like YG

Tyga 

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Tyga Talks Inspiration Behind "Go Loko" & Collaborating With L.A. Rappers Like YG

"Growing up in L.A., it's a really big culture here, Mexican culture," the rapper said. "So we really wanted to do something to give back to the culture."

GRAMMYs/Jun 8, 2019 - 04:16 am

Tyga's latest collab has him paying tribute to Los Angeles' large Mexican community. The rapper is featured on fellow L.A. rapper YG's  leading single, "Go Loko" off his latest album 4REAL 4REAL and when asked about his take on the song, he says much of it was inspired by Mexico's cultural impact. 

"Growing up in L.A., it's a really big culture here," he said. "Even YG could tell you, he grew up around all Mexicans, so we really wanted to do something to give back to the culture."

The video features visuals and symbolisms inpired by the Mexican community, including mariachi, but also by the Puerto Rican community (you'll easily spot the boricua flag). The song also features Puerto Rican rapper Jon Z. Tyga mentioned the diversity of Latinos on the different coasts and wanted to make a song that also celebrates the different Latin cultures in the country. "We wanted to do something different to kinda try to bring all Latins together," he said. 

Watch the video above to hear more about the song and the vibe when he joins forces with other L.A. rapppers. 

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Quarantine Diaries: ARI Is Cuddling With Her Cat, Making Her Own Tea & Preparing For Her Debut 'IDIOT GRL' EP Release

ARI

Photo: Nicole Davis

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Quarantine Diaries: ARI Is Cuddling With Her Cat, Making Her Own Tea & Preparing For Her Debut 'IDIOT GRL' EP Release

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors

GRAMMYs/Aug 12, 2020 - 02:59 am

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, rising singer/songwriter ARI shares her quarantine diary. ARI's debut IDIOT GRL EP is out Aug. 14.

[9:40 a.m.] A late start to the day. I just woke up to my cat Malakai licking my face and snuggling under my chin, desperate for cuddles. I reluctantly gave in before diving into my morning routine, which starts by going through all of the daily news on my Snapchat feed to see what’s going on in the world.

[11 a.m.] Just out of the shower and into the kitchen for the usual: tea and avocado toast. I don’t typically like tea or coffee, but I had this amazing tea from Starbucks once and fell in love with it. I ended up finding the recipe and making it myself, and to be honest, I like my version better. Once I boil the kettle, I start part two of my morning “meditation”: watching one of my favourite shows while I respond to emails. With the IDIOT GRL EP coming out next week, I can tell you there are a TON of emails. I turned on "Gilmore Girls" (my guilty pleasure) and opened up my laptop to go through my calendar.

[1:45 p.m.] Recording session time. Zoom calls have become my everyday life. It’s crazy to think that this time last year, you could actually be in a room with people. Now the most social interaction I get is virtually. On the positive side, I get to set up my little home studio from the comfort of my own bed and I find the sessions to be really productive with no outside distractions.

[3:30 p.m.] Malakai is meowing at my door. As I try to sing over him, eventually I can’t ignore his cute little voice. We take a quick break and I have a little playtime with him. I can hear my song playing in the living room—it still weirds me out hearing myself. My guess is my roommate aka my manager is sending off final approval for the “IDIOT GRL” music video, which comes out the same day as the EP. Super excited for everyone to finally see it!

[6:00 p.m.] Time for dinner. It may just be my favourite part of the day. During my session, my roommate cooked us some delicious pasta. We eat dinner together every night, which is really nice. Usually, after dinner, we wind down and watch TV, but we decided to try doing an arts and crafts project tonight. I watched this TikTok video of a DIY way to make music plaques. You take a screenshot of a song on Spotify and use a marker to trace out the name of the song, artist, play button, etc. Once that’s done, you simply add the album artwork of your choice, frame it, and voila! I thought it would be a cool idea to make a wall of each of the songs off of my EP.

[9:00 p.m.] After an eventful day, I decided to go watch a drive-in Maple Leafs game (wearing a mask, of course). My sister works for the TSN network and started hosting drive-in game nights to promote the network and social distancing events. I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest hockey fan, but I’ll never pass up an opportunity to spend time with my family.

[11:30 p.m.] I finally get home and hop straight into bed. I feel like I haven’t spent much time on Instagram today, so figured I’d open it up before getting some shuteye. I launched the pre-save link for the EP today and told my followers that I would DM anyone who pre-saved it and sent me a screenshot. I always love getting to interact with my fans and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to see how excited people are for my debut EP. It’s a great feeling to end the day with.

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EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Mexican Institute Of Sound Takes Gaby Moreno Into New Musical Territory With Mystifying "Yemayá"

Gaby Moreno 

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EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Mexican Institute Of Sound Takes Gaby Moreno Into New Musical Territory With Mystifying "Yemayá"

Listen to the synth-infused track blending pop and Latin sounds that's named after the Afro-Carribean goddess who represents fertility, water and self-love

GRAMMYs/Jun 25, 2020 - 08:56 pm

Anything Mexican Institute Of Sound (MIS), a.k.a Camilo Lara, touches turns into musical gold. The Mexican producer and artist proves that with celebrated GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Gaby Moreno in "Yemayá."

Moreno, whose soothing voice we have heard magically adapt to a range of genres including Americana, Latin folk and R&B, continues exploring her creative range this time with GRAMMY-nominated Lara in the synth-infused, mystifying track blending pop and Latin sounds. The catchy song about the overpowering feeling of love is named after the Afro-Carribean goddess who represents fertility, water and self-love.

Moreno told the Recording Academy she and Lara wanted to capture the deity's essence in their collaboration:

"She's a powerful woman of color taking all forms. It's a universal theme and we wanted to incorporate this mysterious and mystic figure into the song, since it's part of the folklore of many different cultures." 

The song, which Lara brought to Moreno and was written in one day in 2019 at Red Bull Studios, takes Moreno into new territory. 

"I’ve been a big admirer of [Lara's] work and esthetic and the way he blends Latin folk music with electronic and hip hop. I come from a fairly different musical background, having very rarely experimented with synths and those kinds of sounds, so this was a really fun and different collaboration for me," she said. "I got to step out of my comfort zone and bring forth something a bit unusual but very much enjoyable, nonetheless."

The Guatemalan singer/songwriter will also soon be releasing "Fire Inside," a song she wrote with Andrew Bissell. The song has already been featured on ABC’s "Station 19", TLC’s promo "I Am Jazz," UK’s "Free Rein," NBC’s "American Ninja Warrior" and recently on YouTube’s "Dear Class of 2020."

Moreno is also working on an upcoming album she will produce herself and is also producing other artists. 

Listen to "Yemayá" in full above. 

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ReImagined At Home: Monsieur Periné Perform Enchanting Cover Of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida"

Monsieur Periné

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ReImagined At Home: Monsieur Periné Perform Enchanting Cover Of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida"

In the latest episode of the ReImagined At Home cover series, Colombian band Monsieur Periné perform a gorgeous rendition of Coldplay's 2008 GRAMMY-winning song, "Viva La Vida"

GRAMMYs/Aug 10, 2021 - 09:00 pm

In the latest episode of the ReImagined At Home cover series, Colombian band Monsieur Periné perform a gorgeous, moving interpretation of Coldplay's 2008 GRAMMY-winning song, "Viva La Vida," complete with a string section and a wooden flute.

The beautifully filmed performance ends on a powerful note, with the band holding signs that read, in Spanish, "We're not born for war," "Art over bullets," "I'm a flag of liberty," and other bold statements.

Watch Monsieur Periné's moving performance of "Viva La Vida" in full below.

"Viva La Vida," a track off Coldplay's 2008 album Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, won the GRAMMY for Song Of The Year and Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals at the 51st GRAMMY Awards in 2009; the album itself won the GRAMMY for Best Rock Album that same year.

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