Why Sebastian Yatra Wants to Sing In English


Sebastián Yatra started singing when he was 12 years old. He landed the lead role as Troy Bolton in a middle school production of High School Musical, and it immediately made him think, “This is what my life is going to be.” Raised in Miami, the Colombian native modeled himself after ballad singers like Luis Fonsi, Ed Sheeran and Michael Bublé. He released his breakout slow-tempo stunner, “No Hay Nadie Más,” in January 2018. On April 12, the 24-year-old artist will release his second album, Fantasía, through his recently renewed contract with Universal Music Latin Entertainment. And he’s already at work on his third -- a reggaetón-inspired LP due in early 2020 that will feature, according to manager Roberto Andrade Dirak, “some of the most powerful collaborations within Latin urban music.”

Fantasía is an album of pop ballads. Was there any pressure to take a more Latin-urban approach?

It felt right to take a risk. Why not an album of just ballads? Nobody is doing it, but these songs have such a great impact. I’m doing arenas by myself in Latin America. I attribute the success of these ballads to [the fact] that I fall in love very easily. When you are honest, there is no way to go wrong.

Your manager has worked with Carlos Vives. How has he helped your career?

Before him, I was in limbo. I had been all over the place for seven years, knocking on doors, and things were not working out. Roberto and I first met at a McDonald’s in December 2013; in 2014 I finally released my first single. The team started growing, and [in April 2016] we signed with Universal. Roberto and I make all the artistic decisions, along with my co-managers Alejandro Duque [managing director of Universal Music Latino, Machete and Capitol Latin], Angel Kaminski [executive vp of Latin America/Iberian Peninsula at Universal Music] and Jesús López [chairman/CEO of Universal Music Latin America/Iberian Peninsula]. They trust my point of view and take us exactly where we want to go.

Are you thinking about recording in English?

I sang with Halsey [at the Latin Grammy Awards in 2018], and we did “No Hay Nadie Más” in English and “Without You,” her single that hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. My label, management team and I thought I would [record in English] five years from now, but after that, we thought, “Why not sooner?” I wrote the best music of my life in San Carlos de Bariloche [in Argentina] in January during my break, including a song that is 100% in English. It would be cool to find a big featured artist in the English market [to collaborate with].

Do you see yourself landing on a future U.S. music festival lineup?

J Balvin is a great example to follow -- he’s headlining festivals. We’re on the same label, and he has given me some good advice through the years. Now is not much of a festival moment for me, but I’m sure 2020 will be a year where I’ll be at different festivals around the world -- that’s my goal. To be at Coachella next year would be incredible.

This article originally appeared in the April 13 issue of Billboard.