When it comes to Luis Fonsi, there’s no need for an introduction. You already know him, and even if you don’t, then you’ll most likely know his 2017 smash hit “Despacito” (and we’re not talking about the Justin Bieber version). If you’re like us at mitú, the song might still be tucked away somewhere in the very depths of your mind, playing like a broken record that still gets your body moving.
👏And 👏You 👏Love 👏It! 👏
mitú had the opportunity to catch up with Mr. Fonsi and find out what he’s been up to in this quarantine/pandemic/absolute clusterf**k of a year, and what you can expect to see on his upcoming episode of NBC’s songwriting competition show Songland.
Mitú (M): How are you doing in this time of coronavirus and quarantine?
Luis Fonsi (LF): Good! Good, good. Adapting, you know? This is new for all of us, so I’m making the best out of it. It’s a different world we’re living in now. We just have to get through it together.
M: The “Vida World Tour” was canceled because of the outbreak, which is unfortunate. Anything you would like to tell your fans?
LF: We had to postpone [the tour] for obvious reasons. I think everybody understands what it is that we’re going through and the seriousness of it. And for everybody’s safety, we have to adapt. Nobody really knows how and when things and tours and concerts will go back to “normal.” We just have to follow the instructions and make sure we’re doing things right and make sure that everybody’s safe, and hope and pray a vaccine will come out sooner than later.
As soon as we’re given the green light, we’ll reschedule everything then go out there and hit the road like we’ve never done before, that’s for sure. It’s gonna be an interesting sort of recovery process. We’ve all been holding in a lot and going through a lot, so I think music is going to be really important to help us heal, to help us come together. It’s really gonna be special to be in front of a crowd again.
M: The Luis Fonsi Foundation helped Puerto Rico through donations and reconstructions of homes after Hurricane Maria. Is your foundation doing anything during the pandemic? Anything fans can donate to?
LF: Absolutely! We’re laying the groundwork for the big events that we’re gonna do once we can get out of the house and do them. In the meantime, I’m doing different webinars and events to raise money – whether it’s for my foundation or not – you know what I mean? I think right now it’s just helping and using music and using my platform to help. It might be for another foundation, it might be for whatever… but if I can sing a song and bring people together, then you know what? I’m doing something right. And that’s what we have to do with our time.
We had an event in May in Puerto Rico, a gala that was gonna raise money and help the south of [the island]. They had really bad earthquakes at the beginning of the year. 2020 hasn’t been the best year [laughs] and for Puerto Rico it’s been horrible. Historic earthquakes took out most of [the southern part] of the island. People still to this day are living in tents, it’s really bad. So we wanted to do something really special but unfortunately, for obvious reasons it had to be canceled. Trust me, as soon as things go back to somewhat normal – this is just like my tour – this is a priority for me. It always has been, now more than ever.
M: What made you want to join Songland?
LF: I love the show. I was a big fan of season one. And I’ve worked with [producer] Ryan Tedder before, we’ve written some songs. I think he’s one of the most talented all-around musicians in the game. I remember him back when we were working together he was talking about the show. I saw season one and I was really happy when I got the call to be invited into this new season.
[My episode] is a different thing, it’s a bilingual take on a song. It was really cool that they support Latin music and, being the first Latin artist on the show, I love the concept of it. I love the format of it. I’m a songwriter myself, so I know what it is to be stuck in a room trying to write the best hit song ever.
For these songwriters who are not artists themselves, who are pitching songs to other artists, it’s such a beautiful opportunity to do it directly in this way and to make a competition out of it and make it fun. So I love the concept. Obviously I knew the show from watching season one, so to be a part of it was really special.
I think people are going to enjoy my episode this Monday. It’s really cool and the winning song is amazing! I already recorded it, I performed it. Luckily this was pre-taped earlier in the year. I’ve been waiting for this moment to see the edited show and to be able to show the world the winning song and to release it and for people to hear it.
M: Can you tell us what the song is about?
LF: I wish I could sit here and sing it for you [laughs], but I can’t really talk about it until the show airs. All I can say is that all four songs that were pitched to me were amazing. It’s so hard to just pick one, but what I can say is that from the very first time I heard that song, it just felt like it was mine, you know? It felt like a song that I could sing every day on tour, and it was fun to see it grow and change quite a bit. But the essence of the original idea is there. I think people will get a kick out of that growth process, that evolution of that original idea and how it ended up sounding. I kinda gave my own personality to it. People will hear me perform it live, which is really cool. I did it at one of my shows! It was actually my very last show before quarantine time started. So it’s going to be a cool show and I can’t wait to see it myself.
M: Do you find songwriting in English to be a totally different experience than songwriting in Spanish?
LF: It feels the same because I’m sort of used to doing both things. I feel very comfortable speaking both languages. I can kind of switch it on and off, like the rhyming process and creative process. I can think in English or I can think in Spanish. It’s not really like I have to think differently. I think it’s more about the vibe of the song, like if I’m doing something more Latin-sounding. That’s kind of where it’s more than just the language. It’s more of the culture and the style than whether I’m singing in Spanish or English, and that’s the beauty behind it.
I talk about this in the show, but I don’t know if it’s going to come out or not [laughs] because we do a lot of talking. But twenty years ago it would be really weird to do a Spanglish song, you know? To mix both languages in one song it would be a little bit clunky and awkward, but now, the way the world has come together, we’re all a little bit more open to celebrating people’s differences and cultures and languages and stuff like that. So it almost makes it kinda cool, and that’s something that I really wanted to talk about and keep on “promoting” because that’s who I am. That’s where I come from. That’s what I want to keep celebrating.
M: Where do you think Latin music is going in the future? What do you want to see next?
LF: It’s just like any kind of music, any kind of genre, any kind of language. If it’s good, if it’s a good song, people are gonna vibe. People are gonna connect to it somehow. To me, it’s not just like, “oh it’s in Spanish, they’re not gonna understand it, they’re not gonna like it.” That thought to me is gone now. Because if the song has that whatever it is – that rhythm or that catchy hook, line, or it just takes you to that place – then you’re doing something right.
And that’s tough to do. It’s tough to get people engaged and hooked on something that they’re not fully understanding. It’s twice as hard. And I’ve been blessed to do it and I did it in a big way with a song that the world connected to. And I wish I could sit here and tell you I knew exactly what I was doing when I was doing it but no, it just happens. I use that as fuel to keep on trying to connect the world through music. At the end of the day, that’s really the final language of it all. It’s music.
M: What advice would you give to aspiring songwriters?
That’s a tough question to answer in a simple quick way. If you’re starting out in the songwriting world, surround yourself with people who have a little bit more experience. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, to do co-writes, to sit in a room and see how other songwriters work. And then decide what your angle is and defend who you are and what it is you do and what makes you different.
I think every songwriter has an angle, has a style. That is what we all need to find, and that’s what we really need to work on. It’s like, okay I’m good at doing this, let me work on that, let me be the best at that. And just write and write and write and write and never stop writing. And that’s it. It’s like any career. You have to go out there and you have to go for it. We’re all gonna fail, we’re all gonna run into walls, and we’re gonna run into people who say that we suck and that we should find another job, and that’s part of life and we should use that as fuel. It’s happened to me as a songwriter and it’s happened to me as an artist, and we just have to use that as fuel and keep going.
M: Thank you for your time!
LF: Appreciate you guys! Please stay safe!
Luis Fonsi’s episode of Songland airs Monday, April 20th at 10p.m. ET/PT