You could understand why Chayanne was a little nervous. The Puerto Rican superstar was about to formally release the aptly-titled Bailemos otra vez (Let’s Dance Again, out Oct. 27 on Sony U.S. Latin), his first studio album in nine years. In anticipation, he was going to sit for a live Q&A in Miami before an audience of press from the U.S. and Latin America.
“It’s like coming to see a girlfriend, that’s how nervous I am!” he said with a shy smile as he took his seat onstage. “It always feels like the first time. It’s not bad nerves, but it’s about wanting to do a good job.”
At 55 years old, dressed in a sharp blue suit and starched white shirt that clung to his athletic frame, Chayanne looked youthful and handsome, still the definition of a heartthrob with his gleaming smile and self-effacing, confident charm.
“We all wanted to have your children, Chayanne,” one reporter said loudly, to collective laughter. t’s the kind of reaction Chayanne still elicits when he shows up somewhere or performs: Grandmothers, mothers, daughters and granddaughters all melt at his feet.
“I see four generations in my shows. I’m full of gratitude,” he said. Now that his album is finally out, he’s ready to give back with a region-wide tour of North and South America.
“We are planning for next year,” he said, adding quickly that a launch month wasn’t set yet. But a set list is already in the works. “For me a show is in the present; it’s not the past or the future. So it will have a lot of the new album: “Bailemos otra vez,” “Necesito un Segundo,” maybe “Bailando bachata.” I’ve been thinking about it, but I haven’t told anyone yet.”
Chayanne’s last studio album, 2014’s En todo estaré, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart at a time when pop albums dominated the chart. But the release of Bailemos has coincided with the start of a resurgence for pop (and romance).
The album is signature Chayanne in its inclusion of up-tempo, Latin dance fare like the title track and the single “Bailando Bachata,” which topped Billboard’s Latin Airplay chart, as well as romantic cut-your-veins ballads like “De tanto,” with special attention paid to beautifully-crafted lyrics and tasteful arrangements with a contemporary edge (listen to the free-form slow intro of “Bailemos”). Chayanne has also managed to dabble into other genres; aside from “Bailando bachata,” his new single is the poignant ranchera-tinged “Necesito un Segundo,” written with a stellar cast of songwriters: Edgar Barrera, Andrés Torres and Mauricio Rengifo.
“Romantic songs will always exist and that’s what I’ve devoted my career to,” he said. “I think it’s fantastic to release it as a body of work.”
Do you believe in signs? I was told you saw something different this morning while you had breakfast before coming here…
You touched my sentimental vein. There was an eagle poised by the pool at home. They represent messages from people who maybe aren’t with you anymore, so I remembered my mother, who died 14 years ago. When I talk about her, it’s not to get melancholy, but as a reflection of all the happiness with what I’ve done all this time with my life; how blessed I am and all the beautiful things that have happened.
The focus track is “Necesito un Segundo.” Tell us about it?
It’s a medium tempo track. I’ve gone my entire life to Mexico, a country that embraced me from my first time there. And I’ve always sung ranchera, mariachi, I’ve performed mariachi in shows, even if I hadn’t recorded it in an album. But the liberty that pop gives to do fusions with other genres allowed us to flirt this time with Mexican music. It’s a tough song about a split. That line, “Tu no eres pa’ tanto y yo no soy tan poco” (You’re not that much and I’m not that little), it’s tough! It’s the kind of song I haven’t lived but I love to sing.
I feel like in this album you got more involved with the writing and the production than in the past. Is that correct?
I was involved in the entire process. I had the opportunity and the time. It’s the first time I’ve ever stopped in my life. The pandemic allowed me to do something I hand’t done before: Be at home. I joke that the dog finally got to know me! I was always or recording an album, or touring, or doing a film or a series. I had never actually stopped working.
And team Sony has always been by my side. I’m a label artist. Afo [Verde, chairan of Sony] has always been with me. Rafa [Arcaute]. I want to mention all of them. I was able to be with the producers and the arrangers and explain where I found myself, and how happy I am with everything I’ve received. You get up every morning, and as my father says, the sun comes out, no matter what happens.
You talk a lot about the pandemic. During that stay at home time, did you think about retiring?
No. But I did think carefully about the next step. It was like starting again. Baby steps. That’s where my team came in and the many conversations I had with Afo.
In two sentences, describe this album.
Organic. From the heart. It’s been done with a lot of emotion and excitement. It’s a thank you to everyone for all they’ve given me, because you can’t buy what you receive, and I’ve received so much. It’s a responsibility.
You’ve told me before that when you record songs, you’re already thinking how they’ll work on stage. Are you kicking off your tour with “Bailemos otra vez?”
We’re planning the tour for next year. We don’t know the month yet, but we’re building the stage, the concept, preparing. A show for me is the present. You’re not thinking of the past or the future, so it will have a lot of the album in it.
You recently played sets in two different shows. What had you missed about being onstage?
Being onstage and receiving all that love, is something you can’t describe. It’s like your life flashing before your eyes, because it has been my life. I’m a professional, but that person is the human being who’s dedicated his life to music, with hope. Being onstage and receiving that from people is beautiful.
As an artist and a family man, you appear to be exceptionally balanced. What do you do for your mental health? What has helped you?
We have a family chat with my siblings and my dad. And even though I always talk about my immediate family, I can also mention the pyramid [of people] we’ve created based on core values and beliefs; on being as healthy as possible, realizing no one is perfect, that you learn from your mistakes. All of that is in the conversation more than in the volume of the conversation. That’s it. Talking to each other, being thankful and being in harmony and peace. I think that’s what’s helped me live my day to day both personally and professionally.