Manuel Lara, the Venezuelan producer behind Bad Bunny

(CNN Español) – Since childhood, music has been part of the daily life of Manuel Lara, a music producer from Valencia, Venezuela.

From a saxophonist father and a dancer mother, music, specifically jazz, sounded at home. That passion – and those melodic roots – led him from playing with his parents to graduating from the prestigious Berklee College of Music where he received a degree in music production and engineering.

“I went to Boston for a scholarship they gave me and studied at Berklee. While there, my whole mind opened up, developing ideas for artists. I love being in the studio, so I think that’s where the spark of producing exploded. Then I moved to Puerto Rico and started working with Álvaro (Díaz). There were my first moments as a producer for other artists, “Lara told Zona Pop CNN.

Along with working as a producer, he also created the band together with his brother Félix Lara Project.

The innovative rebellion of Manuel Lara

One of the phrases with which Manuel Lara defines his work is innovative rebellion. An attitude and way of thinking that is reflected in his work, either with the Puerto Rican rapper Álvaro Díaz, with Kali Uchis, Sebastián Yatra or Bad Bunny.

“Rebel in matters of not following patterns,” Lara told Zona Pop CNN. “I go against many things and many of the rules and formulas of music mainstream“Lara adds.

“One should not be something like ‘oh, what do you want? Well, I’m a little machine, I put this code here and you get the song’, No! What one tries (to do) is to be able to develop the idea of ​​the artist and to be able to help the artist to take (that idea) where he wants, or his vision of what he wants with the song to its maximum exponent “, says the producer.

This determination has led him, he says, to reject ideas or change projects, even risking the contrary opinion of the artist. And it is something that supports it.

Together with his brother, he was behind the production of “The last tour of the world”, one of the three albums that Bad Bunny released in 2020, as well as the success “Telepatia” by Kali Uchis and the album from which that song “Sin fear (of love and other demons) “.

Also, he was named one of the 10 Latino Producers of 2021 by Billboard magazine.

“The success has come from innovation and difference,” says the Valencian producer to Zona Pop CNN.

His work on “Telepathy”, the success of Kali Uchis’ TikTok

The song was born in a camp – a creative meeting between musicians – with Kali Uchis, says Lara.

It is a song that defines organic, which was born in 15 minutes. In the composition, he was accompanied by another Venezuelan, Servando Primera.

“We were at a camp for Kali, a great friend named Brandon Cores and me. Before entering the studio I told him ‘look brother, I want to do something like that, let’s go this way’. We did it, it was our turn. about 15 minutes. We go into the studio and I say to Kali: ‘Look, I have something that isn’t reggaeton, but it’s more your identity and it’s something that if I don’t do it with you, it’s like I haven’t worked,’ “says Lara.

“I give play, I have Servando Primera, obviously we know him very well, and he started to do the chorus. Albert Hype was with us too and then obviously Tainy put the finishing touch on it, “he said.

The song exploded during the pandemic. It went viral on TikTok and reached the top 10 of Billboard’s Global Top 200 and topped the chart Hot Latin Songs from the same publication for four consecutive weeks.

What was the secret behind this single?

“I feel that it is a song that is very organic, that is very real and also like it was made before the pandemic. And I think the punch it had was that it exploded into a pandemic and it is a song that basically speaks love from a distance. So I think it worked so much, “Lara said.

“I think TikTok obviously helped her get people to listen to her a lot, but the message and the vibe and everything was different. It wasn’t disco music because you couldn’t go to discos. So I think it worked. And the song was not going to be on the album, “adds the producer.

Ironically, the song that initially was not going to be on the album ended up winning the American Music Award for Favorite Latin Song, topped the sales of Latin songs, accumulated more than 546 million views on Spotify and on YouTube, the audio beats all 124 million views.

The sounds we will hear in 2022

In 2021 we have heard the fusion of different genres. Musical boundaries seem to be blurring. Clear examples are the songs “Todo de ti” by Rauw Alejandro or “El Madrileño”, the album by C. Tangana and even “Telepatia”.

“All of this has literally opened a door so that in pop or urban music there is fusion and that artists really also have other colors that they can use and not just reggaeton,” he says.

But a genre, which some consider dead, looks set to take center stage in Latin music again next year.

“I think rock is going to come back, it’s coming back and you’re going to listen to it right now next year with a lot of artists,” he says.

However, this will not be the decline of reggaeton as a genre, explains the producer.

“The fusion of reggaeton is going to continue, because it is difficult for it to fall. That also helps us and also helps many independent, alternative artists who make pop to have more exposure, to have a window a little more open and wider for them. Before it was pure reggaeton and now with this I think we are going to listen to many more new artists that are out there, “Lara told Zona Pop CNN.

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Manuel Lara, the Venezuelan producer behind Bad Bunny

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