Sebastián Yatra’s Genre-Bending Album ‘Dharma’ Is His Most Ambitious Work Yet
Colombian singer Sebastián Yatra has unveiled to the world what he considers his “best and most personal work yet,” the third studio album “Dharma.”
Yatra is pushing the envelope from the Latin pop genre we’re used to him occupying to adding other unique elements to his music, such as flamenco with vallenato, reggaeton collaborations — and even experimenting with punk rock.
Today, “Dharma” already has 2.3 billion combined streams from previous singles “Pareja del Año” with Myke Towers, “Tacones Rojos,” “TBT” with Rauw Alejandro and Manuel Turizo, to name a few. At only 27 years old, Yatra is part of the new generation of Latin pop stars that want to make music on their own terms and refuse to be boxed up in one genre. The “Robarte Un Beso” singer spoke to mitú about the inspiration behind the new album, his favorite tracks and even Encanto’s soundtrack “Dos Oruguitas.”
The title and concept for “Dharma” was inspired by a book Sebastián read while traveling.
While half of the album was already completed, it wasn’t until Yatra experienced anxiety while traveling and had nobody to talk to on his plane, that he grabbed a book that changed his life. He was reading “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” and in the chapter that covered Buddhism, he discovered the concept for this third studio album. “The chapter talked about kharma, which is a concept I was familiar with, but there’s another side which is called dharma. The moment I read that word, I knew something was up,” Yatra shared.
In Yatra’s words, “Kharma is the lessons you learn in life and they hurt so much, because they’re tied to ego, fear and expectations. Dharma is when you already learned those lessons, and you’re conscious and you start seeing things from a different perspective. You lose that ego, and you lose that fear and the need to control everything. You let life flow and be what it has to be. You accept your reality, and you’re ready to live in the present.”
For Yatra, the concept of dharma fit with the themes of his previous albums: his debut “Yatra” which he calls “a spiritual journey,” and “Mantra” the positive things that you repeat that lead you to positive results. Naming his third album “Dharma” was the perfect fit due to his storytelling, which takes place in the present moment. Other themes like accepting life’s good and bad and looking for love and longing for it are also seen in his album.
Flamenco and vallenato meet in the title track “Dharma.”
In the title track, Yatra recruited Spanish flamenco singer Rosario and vallenato singer Jorge Celedón for something that we don’t hear often: bridging the musical gap between Spain and Colombia’s unique genres, delivering a sonic experience that recalls the good deeds done in our past lives.
The original idea of the song was always going to be in Colombia’s native genre of vallenato with Jorge Celedón, an artist Yatra recalls fondly as his first introduction into the genre. It wasn’t until a dinner that Yatra had with his Universal Music team, that he toyed with the idea of having iconic Spanish singer Rosario as a collaborator, but he never thought it could really happen. “I couldn’t fathom Rosario being interested singing with me,” shared Yatra.
Ultimately the stars aligned and his team worked on getting Rosario on the track. “This is where I really say that good things in life work-wise happen when you truly enjoy what you’re doing, and not when you sit down to look for results. When you look for results, there’s so much pressure and you’re not really having fun. In music and in art, you need things that spike your senses.”
Sebastián calls “Quererte Bonito” with Elena Rose as the best song he’s ever written.
Venezuelan singer-songwriter Elena Rose has found success with her own work as well as songwriting for artists like Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez and more.
As a frequent collaborator with Yatra, “Quererte Bonito” marks the first time the pair are singing together on a track. “The song doesn’t even have a genre, it’s a mix between a ballad and a bolero, and to me it’s the best song I’ve ever written,” Yatra said. “We had to record the song fully live in one take, it was impossible to record it any other way because it’s a song that has no determined tempo, and the only way to guide ourselves while recording it was basically looking each other in the eyes and feeling our emotions while singing it.”
Finally, how does he feel about his hit “Dos Oruguitas?”
Yatra was a part of the animated film, “Encanto” inspired by his native Colombia by recording “Dos Oruguitas” for the original soundtrack.
For Yatra, this was a dream come true. “It’s been a hugely gratifying experience, especially being Colombian and loving Disney. The fact that when I’m older and I can say that I’m literally the person that sings the main song for a Disney animated movie, it’s completely surreal,” Yatra shared.
“It’s the first time in history that the song is performed in another language than English throughout the whole world, even in China and Russia, “Dos Oruguitas” is played in Spanish. It’s pretty crazy. Thank you to Lin-Manuel and Disney for believing in me.”
After the song was nominated at the Golden Globes, Yatra is crossing his fingers that the song also gets nominated for the Oscars as “Encanto” continues to break records on the Billboard charts, which to Sebastián “speaks to the powerful message of family.”