Among the most commercially successful and artistically respected Latin pop artists in the world, singer, songwriter, and composer Alejandro Sanz has sold more than 22 million albums over the past two decades while also becoming the most Grammy-winning Spanish-language artist in history, with three Grammys and 16 Latin Grammys in his trophy case.
So predictably, when his latest album, La Música No Se Toca, was released in September, it immediately rocketed to the top of Latin radio charts in the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, and Ecuador, among others.
Now Sanz is taking La Música No Se Toca to Peru, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, and elsewhere. He has sold out dozens of shows and performed for huge crowds at huge venues, including the legendary Foro Sol in Mexico City for 50,000 fans. And this Thursday, he will arrive at Miami's American Airlines Arena.
In the midst of all this frenzied traveling, though, Sanz took time to speak with New Times about his new album, his tour, and playing for his second home, the Magic City.
New Times: Your album La Música No Se Toca has been a huge success so far. After all these years, are you still surprised by people's response to your music?
Alejandro Sanz: I think one always has to be amazed and thankful. Many times, we take things for granted. But actually, it's been many years of hard and intense work in different countries. Now it almost seems like a gift to me, but the truth is there's a lot of hard work behind it, and I'm still surprised and thankful every time I see the reaction of people at my concerts, signing all the songs I composed. It's been worth it.
This latest tour will visit U.S. cities like Miami, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C. Has it been difficult to break into the American market?
Yes. Very difficult. I got here around 15 or 20 years ago. My first trip was to Los Angeles and then to Miami. At that time, my record company was Warner Bros. and the person in charge of my PR had my records in the trunk of the car, and that's how we would go to all the radio stations, newspapers, and TV stations promoting my music. It wasn't easy. The Hispanic community in this country is growing so much, but it has still been hard to go to the media since most of it's in English. But it's been worth it too. It's a fantastic country.
Now Miami is your second home. How does it feel to play for this city again?
It's always exciting, but I still have that feeling of not knowing what's going to happen. But the show this year is great. I'm sure people will really enjoy it.
On this tour, you've performed for huge crowds at huge venues — like Foro Sol in Mexico City. Was that intimidating?
Well, there's no way I can think of it as intimidating, because I would panic and miss out on one of the best opportunities of my life. [laughs] So when I'm about to go onstage, I am full of energy and excitement. I do feel nervous, especially if I don't feel 100 percent, but I can never feel afraid. I always have to go onstage ready to enjoy every second of the show as if it were the last day of my life. Anything else would be disrespectful to the venue and my fans.
Speaking of the fans: You won the Premio a la Excelencia, a lifetime achievement award, voted by Univision viewers, at the Premios Lo Nuestro. How have you remained focused on the music, maintaining your style and simplicity for all these years, while being a very public figure?
It's been a lot of hard work. I've always being very honest with myself and with what I do. I'm always trying to learn something new and just be a better person. I'm always trying to write the most beautiful song in the world.
How has producing your own albums changed your perspective as an artist?
Well, I can't imagine not being part of the whole process. I am a part of it from the moment I write the first word to the moment we make the last mix. I told that to [composer and producer] Julio Reyes Copello when we first started working together. "I hope you know what are you getting into," I said, "because you'll see me all the time while we record the album." [laughs] I really can't conceive of the idea of just showing up to record one thing here and there. That just doesn't go with me.
So, are you a perfectionist?
Hmm... [laughs] I would like to think that I couldn't be more perfectionist than what I already am. If being on top of my work and what happens around me, trying to be the best at what I do means I'm a perfectionist. Well, I'm guilty.
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You've mentioned La Música No Se Toca is a tribute to the music — its beauty and purity. Do you think that nowadays the music is not being respected as it should?
I think we still need to find a balance between technology and the music as art. Technology is fabulous and has brought music to places that we never imagined. It's amazing the amount of information we can find online, but we shouldn't give up quality for quantity. I would hate to see us using music as something disposable. We are becoming like that in so many things. My point of view is that music is almost like the soundtrack of your life. There are songs that are part of a particular moment you will never forget. You know what I mean? Before, you would hear a song over the summer, and that song would follow you for months. It was the song you fell in love to. I just think we have to take care of the music a little more — give it the value it deserves.
As the most Grammy-winning Spanish-language artist in the world, selling millions of albums, being a father, is there anything you haven't achieved?
I think every day is a constant battle to conquer. Happiness is not something you can achieve and then just fall asleep. Happiness, justice, equality, harmony are things you need to fight for every day. I can't think that just because I have a family, an album, and I went on a tour, now I can sit and wait for the rest to come. I always wake up thinking, One more day to conquer.