Music

Colombia’s Manuel Medrano Talks Spreading Love And “Luz” With His Songs, Working With Nile Rodgers

Since breaking out as a singer-songwriter in 2015 with “Bajo El Agua,” Manuel Medrano has dabbled in many genres. What lies at the core of his songs is a message of love that is powered by his soulful voice. In the past few years, the Colombian musician has worked with J Balvin’s collaborators and funk legend Nile Rodgers. In an interview with Latido Music, Medrano talks about his biggest hits, winning two Latin Grammys, and his new single “Hay Una Luz Dentro De Ti.”

Manuel Medrano was gifted a guitar as a Christmas present after he flunked a year in school.

Medrano became a musician thanks to his parents punishing him with a guitar after he wasn’t doing so great in school. To think that we could’ve been robbed of this great talent from Cartagena if he was given a different Christmas gift.

“I wanted another gift, but they gave me a guitar because I flunked a year in school,” Medrano tells mitú. “It was the best gift of my life. I didn’t know it at the time because I didn’t know how to play guitar or anything about music.”

Manuel won the Latin Grammy for Best New Artist in 2016.

In 2015, Medrano would break out of Colombia and onto the international stage with his single “Bajo El Agua.” The guitar-driven ballad was included on his self-titled album a year later that garnered him two Latin Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and for Best Singer-Songwriter Album.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Medrano says about his wins. “I almost fainted. That’s definitely one of the best moments in my life that I’ll always treasure in my heart. [‘Bajo El Agua’] brought me so much happiness because a lot of people in the world connected with that song.”

Despite his love songs, Manuel Medrano admits he’s not a very romantic person.

Medrano is one of the most romantic musicians out there. His songs are either the sweet side of love or the sensual side. I ask him where does that romantic energy comes from.

Medrano laughs and says, “I’m going to be very honest with you, I’m not that romantic. I think it’s the women that inspire me. The beauty of women. It’s everything they make me feel that lets me write romantic music. With love, you can transmit very beautiful things. Not just love between couples, but self-love and love for the world. That’s what can make the world a better place.”

“Mi Otra Mitad” is a bop! It’s hard to believe that some people don’t like it.

Two of Medrano’s sexier songs are “Mi Otra Mitad” and “Buena.” On the former, he’s a smooth operator over an R&B sound. Medrano’s also got the moves in the colorful music video. The departure from the old sound he admits had turned off some of his fans.

“It’s one of my favorite songs right now,” Medrano says. “It’s funny because that’s one of my songs that some people don’t like, but it’s generated a positive impact on an audience that wasn’t familiar with me before.”

In “Buena,” he worked with J Balvin’s frequent collaborators, Feid and Mosty.

In “Buena,” Medrano blended his R&B sound with a Latin trap edge. He worked on that song with fellow Colombian musicians Mosty and Feid, who are the duo behind J Balvin’s early hits like “Ginza.” This is Medrano’s bedroom banger.

“I worked with Mosty and Rafael [Arcaute],” Medrano recalls. “We did a writing session in Medellín. We invited Feid who was nearby in the city. That tremendous song came out. Feid is a huge talent in music for writing. Rafa and Mosty are beasts with producing as well.”

Last year, Manuel Medrano had his “dream” collaboration with Nile Rodgers.

Medrano is also breaking through the Anglo market. While in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic, he worked with icon Nile Rodgers for the song “Cielo.” Medrano seamlessly finds his groove in Rodgers’ funky guitar rhythm.

“Mind-blowing!” Medrano exclaims about the experience. “It’s a dream come true that I worked with Nile Rodgers. I admire him. I love his work. It was a little while before I could meet him because we worked from a distance. To me, he’s a phenomenal person with a giant heart. I’ve followed his career since I was young. It was an honor.”

His new single “Hay Una Luz Dentro de Ti” is an anthem for everyone.

In April, Medrano returned with his new single “Hay Una Luz Dentro de Ti.” The message behind the empowering ballad is clear as day: everyone has their light that allows them to shine in their own way. That message Medrano mentions is for every person listening, including his fans in the LGBTQ+ community.

“It’s a message of love that’s directed at every person to keep creating a better world,” Medrano says. “It’s a message directed at respect and tolerance for love and friendship. It’s a clear message to all communities. That’s definitively my message with my music. Every time I write a song, I write it with that purpose. That it touches the heart of every person and transforms their lives in a positive way.”

On his next album, Manuel is going to keep experimenting with different sounds.

As for what’s next, Medrano says “Hay Una Luz Dentro de Ti” is the kickoff release for his next album that’s due in the second half of 2021. The album will be 13 new tracks and there will be a documentary covering how it came together. As he works towards live shows pending the pandemic, Medrano promises will be some virtual ones in the future.

“There’s the Manuel that wants to experiment, work with different people, and who wants to learn,” he adds. “Also, there’s the Manuel that people are familiar with from my first album, the singer-songwriter and guitar-player. That Manuel will always be there. Those are going to be the two facets that are present in my albums.”   

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