If you've never heard of Prince Royce, get used to his name.
The Bronx-raised, 22-year-old Dominican kid writes beautiful songs in both English and Spanish. In only three years, Royce has brought a new kind of bachata to the Billboard charts. And recently signed to Atlantic Records, he's coming out with two albums in 2012, one in English out in May/April and one in Spanish out in February/March.
Prince Royce currently lives in Miami and he's touring with two other famous local dudes, Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull. Though he performed earlier this year at the BankAtlantic Center, this will be his first time in front of a sold-out show at the American Airlines Arena.
We spoke with him about what it's like to be an American boy making bachata and the eclectic sounds downloaded to his computer.
Crossfade: What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
Prince Royce: I listened to a lot of Usher growing up. At about 13 or 14 when I first discovered "You Remind Me," I've been a fan since then. I've purchased every album. I followed his career. I grew up in New York, in the Bronx, so I listened to a lot of tropical music styles, Latin music, techno, pop, rock. Every year I would go to the Dominican Republic on vacation with my family. I would learn English in school and speak Spanish at home. So that's where I kind of got that Latin feeling, that Latin root, that Latin background.
You make bachata. But what other styles influence your sound?
Definitely pop. The bachata that I've done in the past isn't really the traditional bachata that is normally done in the island. We add violins on the record. We add pop percussion, so it really gave it a different twist. Right now, I'm working on two brand-new albums, my second bachata and my first English pop album. In the English pop album, we're trying to incorporate that, still keep it pop, but also add some Latin influence as well.
It's interesting that you're an American guy making Latin music. Do you ever feel like an outsider?
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You know, sometimes. Sometimes people criticize and say, "We've got this kid singing Latin." That's the problem with music. I think music recently has transformed into something where we have people like Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Mark Anthony ... So many different cultures in the United States now that you have people listening to different music, different languages. I think that's the beauty of it. You can sing in Spanish, you can sing in English, and people from many different cultures still become a fan of it. I feel like an outsider maybe sometimes. I actually feel like something refreshing, something different.
Are there other kinds of music from other cultures that you are a fan of?
I've listened to a lot of Basshunter. Now with the internet, I think it's really what's expanding, making you more open-minded. You can search an Italian song, a French song. Now when I get to a new country, I turn on the radio and try to download as many of the songs that I like on the radio. I think it's a good way of expanding yourself in seeing what other artists are doing around the world. I'm definitely into Italian, French techno. I have a friend that sends me some cool Arab songs. It's really fun to be able to listen to new music. We dropped, not an official single, but a preview of what my English album's going to be like, the song's called "Addicted" and it's basically a poppy English ballad but it has a different tropical feel, a little of the Spanish in it. So it's a little bit different than what a normal pop ballad would be. I think we're trying to find that perfect sound through the English album.
You had the honor of singing for President Obama. How was that?
It was truly an honor. It was at the Hispanic Caucus. I sang "Stand By Me" to the 9/11 people that passed away and I sang the National Anthem and I got to meet President Obama and the First Lady. I took a picture, and I'll be posting it on Facebook soon. [Laughs] There's so many things that I would never imagine... Meeting the President of the United States, I would have never thought. I remember being in kindergarten and in my class, we would write letters to President Bill Clinton and the White House replied back with a thank you. I can't believe that years later I'm meeting the President of the United States. It's crazy and it's truly a blessing.
What is the coolest thing you've experienced by gaining fame?
Just traveling in general. Seeing so many places, like Paris and Rome. Seeing all of these places that I would only see in movies or on TV. Seeing them in person has been amazing. Growing up in New York, the only place I'd been to was the Dominican Republic. Being able to get out of there and travel the US, Mexico, Europe. It's an awesome experience.
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Do you like Miami?
Definitely! My whole life, I've been in New York, I've been accustomed to polar bear weather and the winter. Miami's more of a tropical New York. It reminds me a lot of the Dominican Republic with the weather and the palm trees. But it reminds me of New York because of Brickell and the city. I think it's a beautiful city with beautiful women. [Laughs] It's definitely fun.
Prince Royce with Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull. Saturday, October 22. American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. The show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets cost $16.50 to $126.50 plus fees via ticketmaster.com. Call 305-960-8500 or visit aaarena.com.