Luis Fonsi Celebrates 17 Year Career with New Album ‘8’

Luis Fonsi (Photo: Ruben Martin / Universal Music Latino)

Looking at Luis Fonsi, you’d never guess he’s been hustling in the music industry for nearly two decades. With his boyish good looks, the Puerto Rican native could easily pass for someone half his age, but don’t let the baby face fool you. It’s his knowledge of what works in an industry where trends are normally what dominate the charts, that has kept him working and succeeding for so many years. While Fonsi is known mostly for his honest and heart-felt lyrics normally accompanied by guitar, he isn’t afraid to kick things up a notch as was evidenced by his performance with reggaetonero Wisin during the 2014 Billboard Latin Music Awards.

And while the Latin Grammy winning singer-songwriter joined members of the media in Miami yesterday for an exclusive CD listening party, he continued to collect accolades as his first single “Corazón en La Maleta” topped the charts in the U.S. and in Latin American countries including Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Panama, and many more.

Congratulations on the success of your album! Can you give us insight as to why you chose to record and master this album in London?

“This is my eighth studio album and [throughout my career], I’ve had the chance to work with some great producers. With my first 4-5 albums, I pretty much followed the same routine as far as where I recorded and who I recorded with. As much as I love working with all those guys who have become family to me, it comes to a point where you reach the same rhythm and I felt I wanted to mix things up a bit.

I knew I wanted to work with Martin Terefe, who I’m a big fan of, because of the amazing work he’s done with Jason Mraz and Train. I was surprised to learn he had worked with Latin artists Jesse & Joy before, so it gave me comfort knowing he had this bridge between the European sound and that of Latin U.S. My trip [to London] was meant to take one week but I ended up staying for two months and doing the whole album with him.”

Working with a Swedish producer you’d guess we’d hear a lot more club tunes but you stayed true to your sound. Why did you choose to go in this direction?

“I went against the new pop sound, the very clubby with a lot of sequence and that kind of thing. I wanted the experience to be more organic; let’s just play music. That’s how we recorded it. We recorded the songs as if it were a live album. I’m hoping people will be able to tell that is has a very live feeling to it. It was all very organic, very pure. This is what music should be like, not overproduced or over autotuned. That’s how I felt my music should sound now— 17 years later.”

Going back to your first album and thinking of where you were in your life and your career and fast forward to this very moment. What can you tell us about the evolution of Luis Fonsi?

“I always focus on taking a step forward with each new album. Staying in the same place as before is not an option. My theory is that you always want to evolve a little bit and give each album its own personality. My first album 17 years ago, I recorded while I was still in college at FSU. Universal Music basically came to me and said, ‘these are the ten songs you are going to record.’ Of course I just said, ‘ok!’ [laughs] I recorded my whole first album in two days. My latest album took me two years to do. In the big spectrum, that’s the biggest difference between my first album and my most recent.

In my second album I became more involved, I chose the producer Rudy Perez, and I wrote my own songs. Little by little I started making it more about my music versus just singing the songs I was told to sing. In my third album I wrote four songs and I even experimented a bit in my fourth album with the uptempo sound with tropical flair. By the time I got to my fifth album, it was when I made the biggest change to more singer-songwriter. It was me with a guitar and the lyrics were more heartfelt, since I wrote every song.

From then on, things just kept changing and now I’m not an 18-year-old anymore. I’ve done the good things, the bad things, and all of that is written in every song. Before it was more about “Cantar” whereas now it’s about “Contar.”

In the song “Llegaste Tu,” you collaborated with the legendary Juan Luis Guerra. How did that come about?

“Juan Luis is one of those talents that ends up becoming like a teacher to you without them even knowing it. I was a big fan of his since I was really young. His music marks a big part of my life, when I moved to the United States from Puerto Rico. I was living in Orlando, meeting new people, learning a new language and it was his music that always kept me celebrating my Latin culture. There are just some musicians who have the power to transport you to different times and places with their music and that’s what he did for me.

For this album, I created the song “Llegaste Tu” for my daughter Mikaela. Juan Luis and I had discussed collaborating before and I thought this was the perfect time for me to reach out. He loved the song and the idea so he agreed. We found a bridge to bring together his bachata sound and my pop sound to unite this collaboration. I had the nerve to hand this maestro of composition something I had written and asked him for his honesty. I told him he could change parts he wanted to or change it completely. He said to me, ‘no, no, no. You don’t need to change even one comma.’

In order to maintain the sound of the album, I recorded my part in London with the musicians I worked with and traveled to Santo Domingo to record Juan Luis’s portion with his legendary group of musicians. I’m really happy with the end results and I hope you all like it too.”

You can purchase Luis Fonsi’s “8” in stores now.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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