Sebastián Yatra is an idol superstar. He’s also a damn good songwriter. Yatra, who was born in Colombia and raised in Miami, Florida, now has tens of millions of fans. He’s collaborated with the Jonas Brothers, reprized Elvis Costello, with the singer’s blessing, and he’s currently touring with Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin, idols Yatra admired as a child.
Now, however, he shares their same tune. This is what happens when you are a Latin Grammy nominated artist, what follows you as you put together millions of song streams in a matter of days. Yatra, who released her most recent hit, “Tarde” two weeks ago, even more recently won a Latin Grammy nomination for her 2021 debut single, “Adios.” This song, which has its own unique story, reached the artist within moments.
“It’s a very personal and meaningful song to me,” Yatra says. “It’s a crazy story, I actually improvised it on the microphone.”
While Yatra can sometimes undergo painstaking efforts to write and finish a track, “Adios” came to him within minutes. Sometimes it can happen, sometimes the muse sends you something straight from the proverbial skies. It’s happened before with artists like The Beatles, Lady Gaga and Gnarles Barkley. And when it happened for Yatra, he knew how to bottle it. Then, with the demo in hand, he re-recorded it later, worked on some musical parts and the chorus, and boom. Sometimes ten minutes can change your life.
“For me,” he said, “it was very gratifying as a songwriter to see people connecting to real, deep emotions that sometimes you don’t even understand – those lyrics came out of my mouth, but I only understood them a year and a half later.
For Yatra, recent accolades and attentions are only “huge” honors. For him, they testify to the belief in your own dreams and imagination. And if he continues to play his cards right, he’ll be on stage for decades to come to help usher in new stars, just like Iglesias and Martin are doing for him today.
“They are definitely two of the biggest names in music,” Yatra says. “Two guys who replaced the Latinos for 20 or 30 years, which is insane, to have such a long career. And they will certainly last beyond even when they leave this world.
Listening to Yatra’s songs, it is clear that he enjoys feeling and finding a full heart wherever he goes. He is in love, caring, in touch with his soul and his spirit. He sings, most often in Spanish, about love and loss, connection and desire. During his new song, “Tarde,” Yatra sings as if he’s whispering, and your ear hairs are shaking.
“’Tarde’ is pure honesty with some wonderful chords,” Yatra says. “I do a lot of falsetto. I hadn’t done this for a while. I say things that I wouldn’t normally say in songs, speaking them very honestly and clearly.
Yatra shot the music video for “Tarde” in Venice, Italy. This was another track that came from a day of songwriting and a motivated effort to produce the video afterward. But where does this dedicated motivation come from? For someone so famous in their country and around the world, it can be easy to get started here, to release a song there. But Yatra strives to maintain its dynamism and creativity. He learned it from his parents.
“I think this is definitely the example I saw in my house,” Yatra says. “All my life my parents work very hard. My father worked very hard. His whole family, my mother’s whole family. They never give up on things or projects that are long term, especially. It’s something that I grew up being a bit used to.
Yatra, who moved to Miami with his mother while his father stayed in Colombia to work in real estate, recalls when he started to engage in music and songwriting as a child, around the age of 12. There weren’t many peers around who wanted to be singers, Yatra says. In fact, he remembers laughing here and there. Around that time he got the role of a big school musical and there was no turning back. But even before that, there was a moment during class where, for a big homework assignment, Yatra wrote new lyrics for a favorite song.
“It felt good,” he says. “It was like something that I was comfortable in and something that came naturally to me. This is where I started this connection with songwriting and music.
While Yatra’s songs are often rooted in romance, he enjoys trying out different styles. From traditional ballads to electronics or even trap. He’s a perfectionist, which is probably the real source of his success. If a melody, chorus, or lyrics aren’t right, it won’t move on. There is no good future without a real present. But this perfectionism is helped by an appreciation of eclecticism. Growing up in Miami, Yatra interacted with all types of people. It gave her a unique and worldly perspective. He is fluent in Spanish and English and uses it in his work. But, at the end of the day, it’s all about the songs, of course, and the journey that goes with them.
“I like where the music can take you,” Yatra says. “It can take you for a ride. Music has the capacity to mark our lives. There is a song every moment.