From selling cell phones at a store in New York City to Billboard Latin award-winning success, Prince Royce is living the dream.
El principe de la bachata will be melting corazones with his sweet voice and flirtatious ways this Sunday at the Fillmore Miami Beach for his Soy el Mismo tour.
But first, la estrella de pop took some time out of his crazy schedule last week to chat with Crossfade. Here's what he had to say about his latest album, crazy fanáticas, and the story behind his moniker.
Crossfade: So where are you calling from now?
Prince Royce: From my home in Miami. It's my first day home in a long time.
Must be an awesome feeling. Pretty soon, you'll be back for your show at the Fillmore, but before we get to that, I guess I'll go back to the start. How'd you get involved with music?
In high school, I was all over the first Usher album. He had the song, "You Remind Me." That's when I got obsessed with music in general. I grew up in the Dominican Republic. I would hear salsa, reggaeton, hip-hop, but it was Usher that really got me into it. I really identified with it. It was urban, romantic, clean cut. I was just a fan of it. At about 14, I joined the poetry club in school. That's when I got into writing, and at 15 I wrote my first song. After 15 is when I started truly recording and writing songs from my computer.
You've been into music since you were 13. How'd you go from a teenager who loved music to a Billboard Latin Award winning musician?
Music was more of a hobby. I met a friend of mine. He knew of a studio. We started recording songs. At around 17 or 18, I started working at a cell phone store. After working there for a year or two, I was able to save up money and work on this music thing. I was also studying to become an English teacher in Manhattan. I was a full-time student. So I would work all day, leave school at like 10, and head to the studio around midnight.
My first album was like my demo. That was off of selling cell phones. I started going places to promote it, and would go into buildings and slip CDs under people's doors. We first released "Corazon Sin Cara." The song really didn't connect with radio. I was like, 'Man, I wrote this song and it was beautiful' [laughs]. So that's why we came up with the idea to record something that everybody knew that was familiar, which is why I chose "Stand By Me." It's one of my favorite songs I didn't really think much of it. It was a very emotional roller coaster. The feeling of not knowing and having people say no and that your music sucks to your face. It was hard and it still continues to be hard. You still have new goals. It's always a new challenge. Right now I'm just focusing on continuing to grow as an artist.
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What made you take the bachata route?
I would always visit the Dominican Republic almost every summer, and I've been so connected to Latin culture ever since we were growing up. You see, my family, we're very Hispanic [laughs]. We all listen to Latin music. When they go to the club, they go to Latin clubs. We grew up attached to Latin culture. We've always spoken Spanglish at home, and in the street, every time I would go to the D.R., I would listen to this rhythm bachata and in New York, Aventura started really blowing up. For me, it was like the new generation of bachata that sounds cool. I wanted to be a part of this movement. It was kinda frowned upon at the time. It wasn't really a popular genre that people looked up to. I saw this and really wanted to take it to the next level. I think it's all about trying new things. I think that's what makes a song a hit. I try to be unique and try to make bachata my own and give it my own flair.
Your debut album, Prince Royce, was nominated for a Latin Grammy, won three Premio Lo Nuestro awards, won three Billboard Latin awards, and was even certified double platinum. What do you think made it so successful?
I think there was a lot of hunger. I'm hungry now, but it's a different type of hunger. That album was driven by so much hunger. I would think about it every day. I think I did everything possible to really try to make it the best possible. It was really made from the heart. When I wrote those songs, I didn't know if it was gonna go to radio or if anyone was gonna hear it. There were no expectations of people listening. It was genuine and natural.
Back in 2011, you toured with Enrique Iglesias and Pibull. How was that experience and what's the biggest lesson you learned from it?
It was kinda just about going out and having fun while people were discovering my music. At the same time, I got to hang out with Enrique and Pitbull. Having that first interaction with fame, I really learned a lot from these guys. Till this day, I keep in mind the things that I learned from them and how I can adapt it to my tour.
Your second album, Phase II, contained songs in English and Spanish. It was even more successful than Prince Royce. Do you think it was more relatable than your first album?
The second album is always the hardest. There's pressure between doing the publicity and finding time to write. I think by my second album, people already knew more about me and were curious to get the album and see what was in it.
In April 2013, you signed a record deal with Sony Music Entertainment to release you third Spanish studio album, Soy el Mismo under Sony Music Latin, and a debut English recording under RCA Records. Should we be expecting an English album soon?
This is a deal that hasn't been done in a long time. I think it's one of the first times they do it. I signed a deal: one in English and one in Spanish. I'm really excited because I'm able to release two albums. Now, I'm prepping for my first English album, which is pop with a little bit of Spanish. Prince Royce is a whole 'nother animal [laughs]. I'm also collaborating with Latin and American artists. It's gonna kinda be like what I grew up listening to, a little bit of R&B and pop, but still reppin' that Latin flavor. It's definitely gonna be another step in my career. I'm really excited about it.
Is there a release date yet?
Sometime next year. I'm also gonna be releasing new music by the end of this year and the middle of next year.
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Talk to me more about Soy el Mismo. How is it different from the rest?
I think it's the most different when compared to the other albums. I got so many different instruments like the accordion, violin, trumpets, saxophones, the ukelele. It was an album to me was perfect in every way. I took a lot of time with this album. It wasn't rushed. I was in a different stage in my life and had a clearer mindset. I was better accustomed to this fast life. I had more peace of mind.
You were also a coach on La Voz Kids. How was it like working with kids? It must have been refreshing, yet hard at the same time.
It was great. At first I didn't know what the experience was gonna be like, but being with kids and seeing them as my little brother and seeing them with the same dream I had, but even younger and singing way better than I sing now, and seeing so much potential in these kids was inspiring. It made me think, 'Man, I wanns go out and discover talent.'
Your full name is Geoffrey Royce Rojas. Royce comes from your middle name. Where does Prince come from?
Royce means royalty or son of the king. Originally, it [his stage name] was just Royce. I Googled myself, but the car Rolls Royce would show up. So I thought, 'What do I do to get people to find my music?' I thought why not add Prince to it, since Royce means royalty. It clicked with the girls and stuff and we ended up keeping it.
You were featured on People en Español as one of the 50 most beautiful people in 2011. And later in 2012, you were featured on their "Sexy Edition." What's your secret?
There's no secret. I don't really pay attention. I think people have this perception that I'm so into my looks but I don't really do much. I try to be myself. I don't put no lotion on my skin. I'm not the type of dude to get my nails done. I think everybody's beautiful in their own way.
What tips would you offer guys who are looking to reach that Prince Royce level of sexiness?
I think it's about being yourself. I think when you try too hard, girls notice. I think they wanna be with somebody who's respectful and a gentleman. I don't think guys have to be so insecure. You just gotta have that game on point.
You have a lot of screaming lady fans who pretty much wanna marry you. What's the craziest thing you've seen a fan do or the craziest thing a fan has asked you?
I've seen everything, from girls throwing me pieces of their clothes and giving my presents that are really expensive, which is really nice. But the thing I've seen stand out is when girls tattoo my logo in their arm. It's really nice, but it's like man, I hope I don't change my logo now [laughs]. It's nice to see. It's showing me the responsibility I have as an artist.
You'll be back in Miami on September 9. What are you looking forward to the most?
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Miami is my second home. I'm looking forward to just hanging out with my people and having fun and seeing the girls and putting on the best show possible.
Prince Royce's Soy el Mismo Tour. Sunday, September 7. Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. The show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets cost $65.50 to $131.50 via livenation.com. All ages. Call 305-673-7300 or visit fillmoremb.com.