Sebastian Yatra Talks Writing Song for Pope, Defending Ballads: Interview
In just over a month, at age 24, Columbia’s Sebastian Yatra fullfilled high-caliber commitments in four different countries.
At the end of February, he was at the Chilean festival Viña del Mar for the first time with his own show (in 2018, he accompanied Carlos Vives to perform “Robarte un Beso”). Then, he returned to Colombia for a few days to wrap up details of Fantasia, his recent studio album, released April 12.
He immediately traveled to Rome, to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican to show him the single he composed for the Pope’s Scholas foundation. “I never expected to meet the Pope. And much less be associated with his foundation and contributing my bit to his work, which is to share love around the world,” he said.
“What I like very much about Scholas is that it is secular; it means that he is not directly associated with a religion but rather it is a foundation that supports young people around the world regardless of their beliefs. The important thing is to help so that they can receive education, not only academically, but also in terms of values. To learn about kindness, generosity and respect.”
Yatra talked to Billboard Argentina during a visit to Buenos Aires on the eve of his first sold-out concert at Luna Park Stadium:
I get very nice vibes from my colleagues. I see it a lot especially with pop artists. For example, Luciano Pereyra sang with me at Luna Park. I also wrote a beautiful song with Noel Schajris from Sin Bandera. There are many artists that I admired throughout my life, such as Carlos Vives or Fonseca, who validate my work. Now, I’m also recording with maestro Andrés Calamaro for something he plans to release later.
The fact that these artists — excellent musicians, composers recognized worldwide for their art — respect what I do, is the greatest honor they can have for me. It encourages me to give more, and that’s why Fantasia comes with an album that has stories as its protagonist, the lyrics. Of course, also music and melody, but I think it is mandatory that a song that sounds brutal should have a great story or lyrics.
Then the ballad was the perfect way to condense that idea, of songs with great stories and lyrics.
I’ve always defended ballads. I started my project with a reggae ballad called “El Psicologo” and then, in order for this to grow, we made something urban. I encountered some resistance at the beginning but decided to get out of that comfort zone. It was a challenge, and today, I feel very comfortable within the urban areas with songs such as “Ya No Tiene Novio” or “Por Perro,” which is too frank.
But I did not want to lose my essence as a baladista so, after “Traicionera,” I wrote a song called “Como Mirarte” which, thank God, did very well. Then I fought to the end to get “No Hay Nadie Mas” out as a single. No one wanted to produce it, and it took me a while to convince everyone about it. At first, it was going to be a soft release, but it ended up becoming one of my most successful songs. It is the most played tune in my YouTube channel.
That’s when I dared to say “Let’s make a ballad-only album.” Every single did very well, like “Un Año” with Reik, “Vuelve” with Beret, and “Cristina” with Tini, which although she does not sing, she is part of the story in the video. I’m super grateful to her.”
In a way, you and Tini have grown professionally together. Since your first collaboration in “No Hay Nadie Que Nos Pare,” as well as in “Cristina,” you show a lot of chemistry together. What can you tell us about that relationship?
I appreciate Tini very much. She is a super talented and professional woman. She is making spectacular music, many disco hits. She is growing more and more. There is no doubt that her career is constantly on the rise.