Get to Know Ovy on the Drums, Karol G’s Go-To Producer

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As he watched from a suite while Karol G performed at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium on Sept. 8, Ovy on the Drums was nostalgic and teary-eyed. Over 70,000 fans were chanting the Colombian reggaetón star’s biggest hits at the top of their lungs — the majority produced by him.

“I cried that day because there were no words,” he recalls, slouched on a couch in his Miami-area home a few days later. “One day, we are working with the hopes of making it big, that our music will go around the world, and life itself makes sure things happen. God himself has given us these blessings, and it’s because we have worked with love, with dedication, without stopping. We are dreamers and unstoppable.”


After accompanying Karol G on most of her shows during her Mañana Será Bonito summer stadium tour, Ovy (real name: Daniel Echavarría Oviedo) is finally back at his three-story corner house in Doral, Fla., where he resides with his personal manager, Alejandro Muñoz, and his aunt Gloria. He’s relaxed, wearing a neon-green Nigeria soccer jersey and black Nike shorts, and his signature spiky, blond dreadlocks are tamed. It’s a typically hot summer Florida day, but inside, the 32-year-old’s aunt is cooking lunch while he catches up on laundry and sips homemade hibiscus tea. “This is amazing for your health. I drink it every day to stay hydrated,” he says, offering a glass.

As Karol’s longtime producer, Ovy is behind her biggest hits, including “Tusa,” with Nicki Minaj; “Provenza”; “TQG,” with Shakira; “Mi Ex Tenía Razón”; and the Peso Pluma-assisted “QLONA” — which all hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart. But his road to success has not been, as he puts it, “llegué y pegué” (“I came, and I conquered”). In fact, Ovy says he never knew music would be his calling.

Fifteen years ago, Ovy, then 17, was working at a plaza in Medellín carrying bags of chicken and selling disposable party supplies when he realized he had to find a passion if he wanted to succeed in life. His first taste of music production came a few years later, in 2012, when a cousin’s friend offered to install the digital audio workstation FL Studio on his laptop and give Ovy a beat-making crash course.

“From that moment, my life changed. Look, I even have the [company’s] fruity logo tattooed,” he says, flaunting the mango-strawberry ink on his right forearm. “I didn’t know what a melody was, I didn’t know anything [about making music], but when he showed me that program, that was where I, Daniel Echavarría Oviedo, discovered a new planet.”

As he practiced each day and sold his first beats for only $5 each, Ovy made headway in the Colombian music scene, working with artists such as Landa Freak, Lorduy and DVX. He also connected with producers Ronald El Killa and La Compañía (the production group of Mr. Pomps, DJ Maff, Migueman and Gotex), whom he credits as the first people to give him an opportunity in the music industry. The latter, which produced Karol G’s 2013 Nicky Jam collaboration, “Amor de Dos,” ultimately connected Ovy with Karol.

“The first day we met, I overheard her talking to her father about needing a DJ for a presentation, and I respectfully offered myself,” he remembers. “At first, she didn’t take me seriously. But about a month later, my friends at La Compañía called me to share the news that Karol wanted me as her DJ.”

After a successful debut performance together at a local university, the duo embarked on a “school tour” across the country while also promoting themselves on local TV and radio. Along the way, Ovy decided to play Karol some of his beats, and they immediately began creating music. The first song they worked on together was “Ricos Besos,” a flirtatious reggaetón track released in summer 2014.

“She was happy because I was the only person who understood what she wanted to express with her sound,” he says. “I remember that we were on a balcony one day when I proposed that we become a team — just like The Rudeboyz with Maluma, Sky Rompiendo with J Balvin — and she told me, ‘Let’s do it!’ ”

Since then, Ovy — whose style is characterized by minimalist urban-fusion beats backed by edgy keyboards, dramatic violins and hard-hitting drums — has produced a handful of Karol’s bangers, such as “Tusa,” which earned him his first No. 1 as a producer on the Hot Latin Songs chart, and the EDM-fueled “Cairo,” which marked his first Billboard Hot 100 entry.

His work on Karol’s studio albums Unstoppable (2017), Ocean (2019), KG0516 (2021) and the historic Mañana Será Bonito (2023) — the first all-Spanish-language album by a female artist to top the Billboard 200 — ultimately has kept him at No. 1 on the Latin Producers chart for 25 nonconsecutive weeks since February 2020, the third-longest reign atop that chart, following Tainy and MAG. He was less involved on Karol’s latest, Mañana Será Bonito (Bichota Season), released in August, but still produced three of its 10 songs: “S91,” “QLONA” and “Dispo.”

“I’m taking time for myself,” he says as Gloria serves warm picadillo (ground beef), rice, salad and noodle soup. “It hurts me because I want to be making new music with Karol like the old days. But it’s not a bad thing — it’s just that now I want to focus on my project.”

Inspired by the multihyphenate Dr. Dre, Ovy wears many hats: he produces; he composes; he develops artists under his record label, Big Ligas; and at one point, he even had a singing career — though after releasing music with Mike Bahía, TINI and Danny Ocean, he decided to quit because “Ovy on the Drums has respect as a producer, not as a singer.”

At the dining table, where Muñoz and Gloria join him, Ovy says that moving to Miami in 2020 was the best decision of his life, mainly because it allowed him to grow as a producer. “I got to a point where I asked myself, ‘What am I doing in Medellín?’ I felt like there was nothing more to do. Other than enjoying my country, my family and relaxing, I wasn’t being productive,” he explains. “Once I moved to Miami, I started creating and creating more, and establishing more relationships.”

Ovy on the Drums photographed on September 12, 2023 in Miami.

And while he’s best known for his work with Karol G, he has now worked with numerous other artists, including Enrique Iglesias, Zion y Lennox, Camilo, Ozuna, Prince Royce and Peso Pluma. When he hits the studio with those other acts, he prepares thoroughly, studying them, observing their musical styles and making sure to arrive with the best energy.

“He is a master of his craft,” says Leslie Ahrens, senior vp of creative, Latin America at Kobalt Music, where Ovy signed in December 2018. “He can create an entire song by himself — production, lyrics and melody — and 99% of the time, they are hits! Beyond that, when you meet him, you want to be his best friend and confidant. He also has a great sense of humor, and all that is a part of his magic.”

Now, as he shifts his focus to his personal musical projects, Ovy is also planning his next move: expanding to work with mainstream artists.

“I’ve had opportunities. Producers like London on Da Track who has worked with Drake have written to me, but nothing has happened yet because I feel that I need to learn to speak English first,” he says. “If I speak the language very well, I will get along with the mainstream producers and artists and even create a solid friendship like the one I have with artists in the Latin music world. I’m on it right now.”

In the meantime, he’s preparing his debut album as artist-producer, titled Dr. Drums, which will include features from Karol G, Quevedo, Sech, Ryan Castro and Blessd.

As we finish lunch, he reminds me that his trajectory hasn’t been “llegué y pegué” but rather working hard for his dreams with the hope of one day inspiring others.

“Tomorrow, when I’m not in this industry or in this world anymore, people will simply remember me because I created different music from everything that has ever existed, and hopefully, they will be inspired by the music I made. That’s my goal,” he says with a smile. “Every day I wake up with that hope — with the purpose of leaving a legacy.”

This story will appear in the Oct. 7, 2023, issue of Billboard.

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