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Fonseca Talks Returning to the Sound of His Beginnings & the Magic Behind His Songs

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To celebrate the first 20 years of a fruitful career and many hits along the way, the tropipop icon Fonseca shared anecdotes about his music and played some of his songs, accompanied by his guitarist Jairo Barón, in an intimate setting Wednesday (Oct. 4) at Billboard‘s Latin Music Week 2023.

During The Icon Q&A panel — presented by Michelob Ultra and moderated by Sigal Ratner-Arias, deputy editor of Billboard Español — the artist took a musical journey from his beginnings in music, how some of his songs emerged, the role of his children in his compositions and his Latin Grammy-nominated collaboration with Juan Luis Guerra, to details of an upcoming album with which he wants to return to the sound of his beginnings.

The Colombian singer-songwriter remembered his early days as a time of great excitement. He said that during the recording of his self-titled debut album and recorded in Caracas, Venezuela, with the Líderes record label, he spent a lot of time alone walking through the streets of the city, imagining the future and thinking about how he was going to get his music played on radio stations.

After his record label closed in the middle of the promotion process, it took him about two years to free himself from this contract. Bernardo Ossa appeared, with whom he produced “Te Mando Flores.” The song gave him his first entry on a Billboard chart and marked a turning point in his career.

“Overnight we were practically all over Latin America, in the United States, in Europe doing promotional tours, playing,” Fonseca recalled. “It was crazy.”

Now that he is an international reference of Colombian music, Fonseca wants to return to the sounds of his early days on his next album, which he plans to release early next year. “I want to make an album where the instruments are 100% recorded and that’s that phrase of going back to that sound,” he said. “That’s how I recorded that album in Venezuela the first time, and that’s how I recorded my second album, Corazón.”

Additionally, he revealed that at the end of this month, he will release a new song called “Canto a la Vida” as a tribute to Colombian music, with accordion, clarinets and percussion.

He also reflected on the song “Entre Mi Vida y la Tuya” released in 2015, which gave him his first No. 1 on Billboard‘s Tropical Airplay chart. He said that the melody came to him while he was resting in a pool in the middle of a tour through Central America. He quickly found his guitar and recorded it on his phone, where he usually saves song ideas, phrases and feelings.

Among funny anecdotes, Fonseca stated that he shares his songs with his three children — ages 4, 9 and 13 — and they are like his “A&R department: absolutely without compassion.” “They’re like, ‘No, no, no, no, no, that’s horrible.’ [laughs] … They’ve inspired me a lot of songs.”

Regarding his most recent hit “Si Tú Me Quieres” with the Dominican maestro Juan Luis Guerra, who received nominations for the Latin Grammy 2023 for song of the year, recording of the year and best tropical song, he said, “I remember writing the song, arriving at the bridge moment that says ‘like a bee in a honeycomb.’ There I said, ‘Well, this is also like a tribute to Juan Luis’ … and from that moment I began to dream that could happen. It happened two or three years later.”

He also highlighted a special anecdote in his career with the song “Ven,” which he wrote inspired by his daughter Paz and which he said is the fastest song he has ever written. “I started making some chords and literally in an hour and a half, ‘Ven’ landed as if someone was dictating it to me and it was one of the most special intimate moments of my career,” Fonseca said. “I remember singing it after I wrote it so quickly and tears came to my eyes. It was something so personal that it was like a sublime moment by myself.”

Finally, as one of the secrets to staying current in music over the years, the artist stated, “Regardless of the profession one has, one comes to serve through what one does.”

Fonseca also closed Billboard Latin Music Week 2023 with a concert for the En Vivo series at Oasis Wynwood in Miami. Watch a summary of his presentation below, and don’t miss the video of his interview on The Icon Q&A panel above.

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