The Many Faces of Romeo Santos
Photos By Omar Cruz
Lead singer of the group Aventura, soloist, songwriter, fashionista, heartthrob, single father, basketball fanatic and defender of the Spanish language, but above all, a family man. That was how singer Romeo Santos was gradually revealed during this interview with Explore. He also made it clear that even though his newest album (Formula Vol. 1) has already sold several million copies and placed two songs on top of the Billboard charts, neither his happiness nor his heart are tied to fame and fortune.
In addition to your Billboard achievements, the music video for your song with Usher (“Promise”) had 2.5 million hits on Vevo. To what do you attribute this reception?
It could be because the duet was such a surprise. The whole album is about surprises. I was bold enough to interpret and experiment with other genres like pop, which I sing with Mario Domm from Camila (“Rival”); or record something urban, like the song I recorded with La Mala Rodríguez (“Magia Negra”) and the one with Pitbull (“Aleluya”). In this album I wasn’t trying to abandon the bachata genre, which is my forte, but I did things to provoke a reaction from the audience. My wish was that after listening to my songs, they’d say, “Wow! I can’t believe that Romeo Santos is singing that song!”
What was it like recording with these artists?
I recorded with most of them in the same studio. It was a lot of fun with Usher. For starters, I was a surprised that he dared to sing bachata with me. We could have done a lot of other stuff, we exchanged several ideas and in the end he decided to do bachata, and he did a great job! Who would’ve known that a big star like him would become a bachatero? He’s a super cool guy; when he’d hear something we’d recorded well, he’d say, “I think we can do it better.” He’s a perfectionist like me. In that sense we’re a lot alike.
Also, you both love dressing well. Did you talk about fashion?
Right before we started taping the music video he told me that he liked what I was wearing. Even before the Grammys we discussed what we were going to wear that night. I’m really into fashion and have always liked the way Usher dresses... but the truth is that we talked about a lot of other stuff that doesn’t have to do with fashion or our music.
Since you’re a fashionista, have you thought about launching your own clothing line?
Did you know that they’ve asked me about that a lot? And yes, it’s something that I’d like to do in the near future, but I’d like to devote 100 percent to it. I’m so focused on this album and the TV show that will air in a few months with Will Smith for ABC (“Untitled Romeo Project”) that I haven’t been able to think about what I’d design, but it’s something I plan to do in the future. Aside from that, I’ve always wanted to act, and I’ve always said that I love the Spanish language. In this show, I can insert little phrases in “spanglish,” which really attracted me, since it’s important to me to defend the Spanish language.
How did the opportunity to record with La Mala Rodríguez come about?
I really like mixing genres and collaborating with artists who are totally different from my style, and creating something that will surprise the audience. When I wrote this song I felt like something was missing: the surprise element. After listening to some of La Mala’s songs I understood that she could add the perfect touch. And when I listened to the song with her in it, I went crazy! “Magia Negra” is a very powerful song, it’s about that woman who can make us crazy with passion and hypnotize us.
Who was the muse that sparked such a powerful inspiration?
As a man, one always goes through these situations, sometimes stronger than others. I am 100 percent an admirer of women. And yes, there have been a couple of occasions where I’ve felt all of that for a woman. However, 95 percent of the songs I write aren’t about me, they are about what I’ve seen in other people. I put myself in their shoes and the songs come out like this one.
It’s a fact that you’re dating someone because you revealed it on a TV show. Why are you keeping someone who inspires so much love anonymous?
My feeling is that I don’t want to open the door to my privacy even a little bit, because then I’d have to open it all the way. When one is in this business, one can’t say certain things and then be quiet when they don’t want people to know other stuff. That’s why I prefer to keep my personal life behind closed doors. The only thing I’m interested in telling people about is my music.
As one of the most eligible bachelors of the moment, do you plan to marry at some point or do you see yourself as an eternal bachelor?
Right now I’m immersed in my career, but I’m not ruling anything out. At this time my girlfriends are my songs. I love my fans, my audience... For now, it’s not something that’s on my mind, but in a year or more, the answer might be different.
Until that moment arrives, what is a perfect day in your bachelor life?
The perfect day is when I’m with my family. You see, I don’t like anyone to wake me up, but when my little niece comes to my bed and says, “Uncle, get up,” my day begins with a smile. My sister, her husband and their four children live with me, so I’m always surrounded by love in this house. That was always the idea: To have a house so my whole family can live with me.
We saw on TV that you just moved in to a mansion in Georgetown, New York. Which is the best moment you’ve had in there?
There are so many! It’s wonderful to see my nieces and nephews playing. When my mother and father are here I feel happy. I bring friends over and we play pool or basketball out on the court. I won’t lie and say that I’m a good player, because if one day someone sees me they might be disappointed, but I hold my own. It’s a part of the house where I have been very happy.
Have you experienced any disappointments in the house?
In this and in my last house I had to accept that what made me happy was not the same thing that made my mom happy. I bought a house in New Jersey thinking that, seeing how it was much bigger, my mother would come live with me. But what made my mom happy was to be near her friends and the places she already knew. It was difficult to understand, but I’ve accepted it and as long as she’s happy, I am too.
With so much success and a beautiful home environment, is there anything that worries you?
I don’t fear death, but I fear that it comes to my loved ones or something tragic happens to any of them. I don’t like to think about negative things coming to them. I would not want to lose any of my loved ones, I don’t know how I’d handle it, because no matter how strong I try to be, when something happens I suffer and that greatly affects me. I don’t want anything to happen to the ones that I love.
In closing, after 30 years, what has been the biggest life lesson you have learned?
Wow! There’s several. One of them is that this business is very cruel and you have to know how to choose your friends wisely. We can’t open our hearts to or trust everyone. It took a lot for me to understand this, but I finally did. My best friends are those who were by my side before I was famous, not those who became my friends afterwards. And my best friends and the best advice I’ve gotten has come from them, especially from my parents.