Maná's Fher Olvera Talks Latin Grammy Person of the Year Honor


When Fher Olvera, the lead singer for best-selling Mexican rock band Maná, wrote “Vivir Sin Aire” (Living Without Air) in 1992, his authentic aim was to pen a track concerning the setting.

“But my coronary heart betrayed me, as a result of I used to be in love with a lady,” recollects Olvera with amusing. “It was an fascinating hybrid, the lyrics: ‘I can’t reside with out air, with out water and with out you.’ And in the long run, love, and every part that surrounds us, is a part of a large world. That track has been used for environmentally acutely aware advert campaigns, and likewise for advertisements about weddings.”

“Vivir Sin Aire,” now thought to be a Latin music normal, displays the intimacy and universality of Maná’s music, a mixture that has made it one of the vital profitable Latin bands of all time.

In recognition of the group’s influence and affect, The Latin Recording Academy will honor Maná because the 2018 Person of the Year on Nov. 14, the night earlier than the Latin Grammy Awards. It would be the first time within the 19-year historical past of the awards band has acquired the glory.

With its signature mixture of calypso, reggae, pop and rock, anchored by Olvera’s trademark raspy vocals (his voice is commonly in comparison with Sting’s), Maná performs songs with lyrics about love in addition to social and political points. Comprising Olvera, drummer Alex González, guitarist Sergio Vallín and bassist Juan Calleros, Maná holds the document because the band with probably the most No. 1s on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart -- 10 -- together with the 2015 hit “Mi Verdad” (My Truth) with Shakira. The band additionally has positioned two titles within the prime 5 of the Billboard 200 (probably the most for a Latin group) and has scored eight No. 1s on the Top Latin Albums chart, together with its newest, 2015’s Cama Incendiada (Burning Bed).

As a touring act, Maná has achieved equally lofty success: The group has offered out the 20,000-capacity Staples Center in Los Angeles 13 occasions, the venue reviews, a tally second solely to Taylor Swift’s 16 sellouts.

Iñigo Zabala, president of the band’s longtime label, Warner Music Latin America, has described the group as an iconic act, “however they’re an icon that continues to supply hits.”

Beyond these hits, the selection of Maná as Person of the Year is a chance to honor a gaggle of musicians who've “used the energy of music for the larger good,” says Latin Recording Academy president/CEO Gabriel Abaroa Jr.

In 1995, Maná based the Selva Negra Foundation to concentrate on environmental and social justice efforts, together with reforestation all through Latin America, the safety of sea turtle habitats in Mexico, the development of low-income housing, initiatives with native Indian communities and environmental training in Mexican faculties.

The Latin Recording Academy says Maná shall be acknowledged for “their extraordinary inventive accomplishments and philanthropic contributions to the Latin neighborhood, in addition to for his or her steadfast and devoted help of environmental preservation and safety, in addition to human rights.”

Billboard spoke with Olvera concerning the band’s upcoming honor, its environmentalism and the standing of Latins within the Trump period.



It’s the primary time this honor goes to a band, and to a rock act. What’s your response?
We’re actually excited. This award speaks to the truth that the band has a monitor document of songs. The key with these awards is that they honor creators: individuals who proceed to present music to previous and future generations. And that is one thing that has been in decline for one cause or one other. The media has devoted loads of time to selling singing competitions, they usually yield good singers, however not composers. Creativity must be fostered.

How do you view the traits in mainstream pop and in Latin hits?
We spoke not too long ago about the truth that the top-selling artist on the planet is Ed Sheeran. He’s a romantic singer-songwriter. [Romantic songwriting] isn’t going to vanish. It’s not that I've something in opposition to hardcore reggaetón; it’s simply that there must be a couple of style. In phrases of lyrics, not every part is, “Mamita, open your legs.” That’s simply too coarse for seduction. The sensuality is cool, however you'll be able to have a bit bit extra poetry in there. “Labios Compartidos” [Shared Lips], for instance [one of Maná’s biggest hits], is a horny track that claims: “I’m trapped underneath the swaying of your hips.”

You teamed with Nicky Jam for a remake of your hit “De Pies a Cabeza” [From Head to Toe] in 2016. Why did you document with a reggaetón artist?
We prefer to experiment, and we made a deal: “We don’t need to go to your nook of the ring, nor you to ours.” We need to do one thing all of us like. We do reggae and one other kind of calypso, not reggaetón. So we discovered a method to not use that tuc, ta-tuc exhausting beat, however extra of a dancehall [beat], which is extra the Maná fashion ... It’s a type of songs that makes you shake your booty however is cool.

Maná has an extended record of hits. What are three which have specific significance for you?
A track that basically delivers musically and lyrically, “En el Muelle de San Blás” [The San Blas Pier]. It’s a track I didn’t suppose would seize the viewers, as a result of it’s extra poetic and metaphorical. [The song is loosely based on a local woman who waits for her long-lost lover on Mexico’s San Blas pier.] And I really like that it had that communion with individuals. “Mariposa Traicionera” [Treacherous Butterfly] as a result of it criss-crossed Latin American tradition -- you'll be able to hear it carried out by mariachi, by a trio, in a automobile, on a ship. It goes in every single place. And a extra rock’n’roll illustration of Maná is “Clavado en un Bar” [Stuck in a Bar]. These are songs I prefer to carry out.

Your father died whenever you had been very younger, and your mom raised you and your three sisters on her personal. What are your reminiscences of rising up in a single-parent family?
The total duty of getting 4 kids fell on her shoulders. I used to be eight, and my sisters had been 9, 7 and 5. My mother needed to do every part. I keep in mind she’d sit down and work out her funds, and he or she would barely make it or not make it in any respect and would ask an uncle for a mortgage. It anxious me a lot to be so younger and never be capable to assist out. We had been all very, very thrifty. I had a scooter that I made out of roller-skate wheels as a result of I didn’t have the cash to purchase a brand new one. And I used to be pleased with it. I used to be as soon as requested who my heroes had been. The true heroes are single mothers.

Feminism and the #MeToo motion are prime of thoughts proper now. How has your upbringing affected your notion of girls?
Intellectually, ladies have the identical potential as males, after which they've that further [ability] that comes with instinct.

Your basis, Selva Negra, is a pioneer in environmental philanthropy. Can you share an replace on its actions?
We have lovely reforestation initiatives underway. We’re beginning to reforest parks inside Guadalajara [Mexico] along with faculties. We suppose it’s necessary to coach. We additionally labored to combine environmental training into the college curriculums: little issues like easy methods to save water, or recycle. Or how all people ought to try to have at the very least two timber.

How did you get began with environmental work?
I used to be having beers with my sisters on the seaside, and we had been watching the sundown. And all of the sudden, I begin to see one thing spring up from beneath my toes. Baby turtles! We picked them up and pushed them towards the ocean and fought off the seagulls that had been making an attempt to eat them. I assumed it was a miracle. And I made a decision we had been going to try to save the turtles, though clearly we work with different species. But a very powerful work we do is encourage. That’s what can actually transfer the needle. When we began, actually nobody was doing it. And at the very least individuals are actually extra acutely aware about what’s occurring, and that fills us with delight.

Maná has been vocal in opposition to President Donald Trump’s insurance policies, and also you had been the primary Latin act to denounce his feedback in opposition to Latins throughout his marketing campaign. Are issues higher or worse now?
At a political stage, a lot worse for Latinos. This entire subject of racism has been taken too far, and I’ve by no means seen it this unhealthy. Our Latin neighborhood has been vastly undermined prior to now three years, and every part we had gained over the previous 70 years has fallen by the wayside. And it will likely be very troublesome to rise up once more. But it is a democracy, and that’s the way in which it's. It’s like Mexico: People wished a change. But we’ll proceed to work from our little nook, to push the wheel and push for change. This received’t be without end, and there shall be different elections.

Are performers obliged to talk out?
There’s nothing unsuitable with artists not talking up; it’s their proper to become involved or not. What all public music figures must do is sweet music, good artwork. They want to position all of the impulses into their hearts, their balls, their brains, into their artwork. Having mentioned that, this nation enjoys freedom of speech. And we’re additionally talking a couple of humanitarian subject. It’s not honest for a gaggle to return right here, to assist construct a rustic after which be referred to as trash. It’s a violation. And wherever there are violations, we should always communicate up. We communicate with respect, however we will see what’s taking place, and it goes past politics.

This article initially appeared within the Oct. 13 subject of Billboard.