"I've been getting to know all the corners of my house," Camilo Echeverry says. While the Colombian singer-songwriter is becoming more familiar with the Montaner family home while in quarantine, the world is getting introduced to him now that his new album Por Primera Vez is out.
The album's title, which translates to "For the First Time" in English, is symbolic for Camilo. After winning a Colombian variation of The X Factor in 2007, he released two albums under his full name. That name was later buried in the credits of hits like "Sin Pijama" by Becky G and Natti Natasha and "Si Estuviésemos Juntos" by Bad Bunny when he was focused on writing for other artists. Camilo signed a recording contract with Sony Music Latin in February 2019 under his first name to mark his music career's fresh new start.
The past year has seen Camilo go from a behind-the-scenes hit-maker to an artist on a swift rise. He launched this new phase in his career in March 2019 with the Marco "Tainy" Masís-produced lead single "No Te Vayas," which was certified Platinum in the U.S. The follow-up "Tutu" with Puerto Rican singer Pedro Capó became a bigger hit, reaching No. 16 on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart. The song even caught the attention of one of Colombia's biggest superstars, Shakira, who jumped on the remix.
The release of Por Primera Vez on April 17 also coincided with another major milestone in Camilo's life, his recent marriage to Evaluna Montaner, the sister of Mau y Ricky and the daughter of Argentine great Ricardo Montaner. Not only is Evaluna a part of his life, but she is also a part of the album. The newlyweds' union is beautifully celebrated in the title track on which they duet.
Every step of the way leading up to this third album that feels like the first, Camilo has shared his journey with his fanbase La Tribu, or "the tribe." He leads them with the message "Amar es la Revolución," or "Love is the Revolution," that is often elevated on his Instagram account. Golden Oportunidad Music became part of that tribe when Camilo let us into his world for an exclusive interview about life before and after Por Primera Vez.
What's the difference between that Camilo on The X Factor and the Camilo now?
I'm still the same spirit, the same essence, but the way I approach things and my music is different. This is me living authentically through my music. Now I'm living what I'm writing. I feel like people are hearing the real me for the first time on my new album. That's why it's called Por Primera Vez.
We're going to take it back a bit. What's the story behind writing "Sin Pijama"?
It's easier to write for someone else because they are the one singing the song. When it's you onstage, you can either feel the tomato hit your face or the roses at your feet. That song is way different than what I would write for myself. It was about feeling sexy and it was fun to write with Becky G and Natti Natasha in mind. The song made me ready to understand my career and what it's like to be artist.
How was it to write with Bad Bunny on "Si Estuviésemos Juntos"?
Bad Bunny is my favorite artist right now. If you don't like him or his lyrics, there's just no denying that he speaks with honesty in his music. He's one of the most honest artists out there right and I appreciate that. There's a part of the song where I'm singing in the background vocals. When we hear it at home sometimes I'm like, "Hey listen, you can hear me in the back!"
Can you tell me about the moment when you decided to be an artist again?
I wrote "Medialuna" after me and my first record label parted ways. I was having doubts about ever becoming an artist again, but I feel dead if I'm not writing anything. Before we were even dating, I wrote it for Evaluna hoping that she would hear it and she did. She played the song for her brothers Mau y Ricky and her dad Ricardo Montaner and they loved it too. They were like, "You're so talented." Mau y Ricky took me to L.A. to write with them and that's when everything was starting again.
Besides "Medialuna," "No Te Vayas" was the first song we made for the album. That made me see that I can be an artist again. I loved working with Tainy.
How did you feel when Shakira said she wanted to do a remix of your song "Tutu"?
It was surreal. She's Colombian too and she's our flag out there. My phone was blowing up because she posted that she liked my song "Tutu" on Instagram. I wrote in the comments thinking that she would never read it that we should make a song together someday. She responded back to me and wanted to do a remix of the song. Now she's on my album. It's such an honor to have her on it.
How did your duet "La Mitad" with Christian Nodal come together?
Christian is an artist I've admired for awhile. He stays true to his roots in his music and in this industry. I was like, "I have to him on one of my songs." We met on a red carpet and I let him know that we should collaborate. On another red carpet, I reminded him and then we connected. The biggest part of my following comes from Mexico. Mexican boleros are actually part of my childhood because that's the kind of music my parents would listen to. This song in a way is a homage to my Mexican fans, my family, and the music I grew up on.
How did you feel to record "Por Primera Vez" with your wife Evaluna?
Me and Evaluna have been working together for like five years and I was like, "How do we not have a song together yet?" That finally happened when we wrote "Por Primera Vez." We recorded it in like November or December 2019. We said that we should record our wedding video for the memories and then we decided to use it for our music video for the song. That was so special. No disrespect to Shakira, Mau y Ricky, Manuel Turizo, Pedro Capó, or any other person I've worked with, but I loved working with Evaluna the most. She's my favorite artist.
Who do you want to collaborate with next?
I feel like in this industry we're always focusing on what's next and never enjoying the moment. You could win a Grammy and it's the mindset of how can I win my next one. Right now I'm just trying to enjoy finally having my album out and everything that's coming with it. Maybe this energy will inspire me later to see who I want to collaborate with next.
You always speak of "Amar es la Revolución." Do you think you accomplished that with this album?
I wouldn't say that I accomplished that because I see this as a journey or a long road that I'm on. I like to say this new album is like planting the seeds in the ground for something bigger. With every post, melody, song, or anything that I put out there, I always ask myself, "Is this going to put a bit of love into the world?" That's what I'm trying to do and it's a process.
As one of your fans who is gay, I want to ask if you have a message for your fans in the LGBTQ+ community?
I would say my message is really for everyone who is alive and has a spirit. Inside our spirit doesn't have race, gender, social status, sexual orientation, or anything like that. That's what matters the most is our spirit. Be you. Be true to yourself and don't let anyone change you. God loves everyone. We always have to lead with love.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
These past three months were planned out before me and what I've learned during this time [of Coronavirus/COVID-19] is that God laughs at our plans. I had all these plans and everything went to the floor. I'm learning that not everything can be done according to plans. In the meanwhile I'm going to keep making music and I'll go with the flow from there.
Photos courtesy of Sony Music Latin/Lucas Villa