Check out our interview with Spanish singer-songwriter Juan Ricondo.
To celebrate the 5th Anniversary of his first Album “An American Affair”, the Spanish singer-songwriter, Juan Ricondo returns with the single “Solo pienso en ti 20/20” bringing an “instant classic pop song” that has a retro vibe with Jazzy-Bossa Nova arrangements and powerful yet sensual vocals.
His success keeps growing non-stop and Juan recently won the People’s Choice Award at the “New Wave Music Festival” in Sochi (Russia), becoming the first Spanish singer to receive this award at this festival.
Follow Juan @juanricondo
How do you define your musical style?
A mix between the British Pop of the 50s and the American Soul of the 60s with the voice of a Latin crooner. The piano is my favorite instrument so I tend to give more importance to the piano, the strings and of course the voice.
What was your musical training?
Hours on stage. I started playing guitar when I was 15 years old and several teachers gave me classes. I discovered the voice later. Everyone was telling me that I should dedicate myself professionally. I used to play opera and pop records and imitate Placido Domingo, Elton John, Elvis but it was in New York, when I received a scholarship to study acting and directing, when I was taking lessons from Patti Donnham and Jeff Buckley. Later I moved to Los Angeles and it was there where I developed my voice with Gary Catona (Whitney Houston, Frank Sinatra, Christina Aguilera) friend and teacher. The best Vocal coach I have had. The rest it’s just practice and hours on stage.
“Solo pienso en ti 20/20″ is your new single, tell us about it?
I wanted to celebrate the 5th anniversary of my first album “An American Affair” and “Solo pienso en ti ” was the single in English that we released for the promotional campaign. It seemed to me the best way to close the circle. This 20/20 version is completely in Spanish and never released before.
Tell us about An American Affair, your first album: how was it born? Did you write all the songs? Why singing more in English than in Spanish now?
I have been working outside of Spain for a long time and always sang in English. It was a logical consequence to write the first album in English. My audience is mostly German and American that’s why I called it “An American Affair.” I wanted to pay tribute to my American influences by presenting a collection of songs that had an American theme. I composed all the songs and two of the best producers in the industry, JD Salbego (Demi Lovato, Jason Derulo) and Sean Hamilton (Justin Bieber) produced the album with me. Musically I wanted to close that period with this anniversary and at the same time open a new one for my future project in Spanish. So the new version of “Solo pienso en ti” is the perfect link.
Why that turn to Spanish now?
I couldn’t find my identity as a Latin artist. I had a lot to say but couldn’t find the right sound vehicle. Therefor it was easier for me to release an album in English. Latin music has also evolved and thanks to new composers and artists the gap between the classic songbook and the Latin party songs is no longer that wide. We have more colors in the palette. We’ve adapted other genres and incorporate them into our musical culture and this has caused an international expansion. Right now, Latin music is experiencing a historic moment. Our music is consumed equally throughout the world and in our language. We used to hummed pop songs in English because we liked the melody and although we did not know the lyrics, we mumbled them. This is what happens now but backwards. Worldwide you hear people singing Spanish songs even though they don’t know the lyrics.
In the music video we see parts of the original video, why?
The first version was Inspired by the Hollywood of the 50 and its black and white iconography. In this new version I wanted my character to go back and revisit the idea. To dust off old memories of how it all started. That’s why it takes place in a old garage with just his guitar and a projector.
You are from Santander a small town, but music has taken you to travel half the world. What do you think are the keys to that success?
Dedication, passion and perseverance. There is nothing that can stop the force of the constancy and patience. Eventually it all ends up coming for those who wait.
You’ve recently won the Peoples Choice Award at the ‘New Wave’ Sochi music festival How it was the experience? What does it mean to you to be the winner?
It’s something amazing. Be the first Spaniard to participate in this contest, reach to the finals and win one of the most important prizes. For me the Peoples Choice is the most important award there is, because in the end it is the people who buy a ticket, who follow you and the ones that become your fans.
How did the possibility of participating in the ‘New Wave’ Sochi festival come about? How has it been your experience? What does it mean to you to be the winner of the public?
It’s incredible. Be the first Spaniard to participate in this contest, reach the final and above win one of the most important prizes. For me the audience prize is really important, because in the end it is people who buy a ticket, who follow in the networks or the one that becomes your fans. It was also about the Russian public, which is another market, another culture … The preparation there was very intense. In fact, four weeks we were there were practically focused on preparing for the television event, that is, how the western world prepares for the eastern world. They gave us many guidelines on how to do a lot of things so as not to offend the jury nor to the public, who could interpret it as a lack of respect. With that background, having then won the audience award has been an honor.
How did the possibility of participating in the festival come about?
I was on tour in Switzerland and a friend mentioned it. He said it was like the Russian Eurovision. The rest it’s history.
We are living in difficult times, how the current situation has affected you? And how do you see the entertainment sector in the future?
Without a doubt, we are all living very hard and difficult times. It is modifying, changing and destroying many sectors and entertainment is one of them.
I can personally say, in my humble intention to get something positive out of all this, that has made me think about the type of music I want to compose and the type of artist I am. I also believe that our way of music consumption has changed. Music has been consumed without any kind of criteria or filter. We had reached a “Musical bubble” in which only the quantity mattered.
During confinement, on the other hand, music consumption became more select. Classical music for example, experienced an unprecedented growth of 30% in Spotify and other platforms. Also international pop classics, jazz standards etc… Everything responds to the same factor, selective attention.
This is now a crisis in many aspects, not only a health one and is lasting over time, so it inevitably makes us reflect on many things and rethink. And musically, on how we consumed and what.
I think there is pre-covid and post-covid music. I feel people want to listen to the message we give them, not just hear.
As for the model of concerts and shows as we understood it until now, will not be the same. We will adapt because survival is in our artistic nature but there will be some who will be left behind and this is the tragic thing about drastic changes. We knew that, since technology took over the music industry and the entertainment business, we would experience gradual changes to which we would have to go adapting and assuming evolution and progress that, although sometimes dramatic, is unstoppable. Downloads, new streaming platforms, online shows, new ways to entertainment consumption … Even so, we would always have the ultimate goal that makes our profession so special and different from the others, the contact with the public and the live experience. But it is precisely where they have hit us, nobody saw it coming and it caught us unprepared.
They will try to create new ways of reaching the public until one works and is the more effective and sustainable. Meanwhile, we will have to resist and adapt to the changes. But of course, old models of entertainment will become obsolete because they will be no profitable. At least until we get over this crisis.
Photo Credit: Tobias Sutter