By SIGAL RATNER-ARIAS
The global phenomenon “Despacito” may be overwhelming to many, but not to Luis Fonsi – even when it has transformed him into a 24/7 globe-trotter. The Puerto Rican sensation considers it a real blessing that the megahit arrived two decades into his career.
“It is a lot, but I’m trying just to enjoy every day and be very grateful and I’m blessed that it came 20 years in,” the singer-songwriter told The Associated Press during a brief stop in New York this week.
Many people around the world are just learning his name, but “I’m not new to this,” he said. “I know how to really enjoy it. ... I’m very grounded, I’m very grateful and I love music. ... It’s what I’ve done all my life. Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be a musician – I didn’t want to be famous; I wanted to be a musician.”
Fresh from the European leg of his “Love and Dance World Tour,” Fonsi said it was fun to sing in front of so many new audience members. The tour next takes him to Latin America and, starting Sept. 8, to the U.S. With dates through the summer of 2018, it’s the biggest tour he’s done, thanks to “Despacito.”
“This took me to Turkey, to Cyprus, to Egypt, Sweden. ... Just to see so many people that are really there because they know one of my songs – it’s huge, and they were singing along to that one song and enjoying the rest of my repertoire,” he said. “It keeps me very humble and is very refreshing to have to sort of prove myself to this new audience who is going like, ‘Who is this Luis Fonsi? Who is this Mr. Despacito?’... It keeps it really interesting.”
Some things have changed for the Latin artist, who was better known before as a balladeer. But some things have not: “The way I go about doing my daily things, the way I treat people, the way I go about respecting the stage and writing songs and doing my normal things, those things will never change,” he said.
“What changes is that ‘Despacito’ has opened a lot of doors for me, so now I’m able to collaborate with artists that maybe before wouldn’t pay so much attention.”
He recently joined DNCE and Nicki Minaj on a remix of “Kissing Strangers” and said “some amazing collaborations are coming up, literally as we speak,” although he wasn’t ready to give any details. He did say, however, that his next song will be released in about two months and that it would “surprise some people.”
“It’s not a drastic difference from what I’ve done, but it’s a little more pop oriented, a little bit more just rhythmic oriented,” he said. “I want to just push the envelope and keep kind of mixing and intertwining different genres and just really explore within the range of pop music.”
Traveling the world with the biggest hit of the year has been fun, but it doesn’t come without a high price to the father of two: Mikaela, 5, and Rocco, born last December just a few days before “Despacito” was released.
“That is the only negative about my job, the only thing that I’d say, ‘Ugh!’” Fonsi admitted. “I can go a week without sleeping and I’ll take it. [But] not being with my kids, you know. I have a 7-month-old, and every day he learns something new and I’m missing out a lot.”
On the other hand, he said, it keeps him very focused: “Everything I do, I do it for them – and that sounds a little bit like a song, but is true,” he said, laughing. “It’s kind of my engine.”
Although “Despacito” has been a hit, MTV didn’t nominate the song for its Video Music Awards, despite it being the most watched video in history, with more than 3 billion views. Fonsi said “it would have been great to be nominated,” but he is not disappointed.
“I hope this is the beginning of something new. I hope that, thanks to ‘Despacito,’ a new category is created,” he said. “But I simply believe that this news, as is, has caused a little positive stir in the sense that now the eyes are more on Latin music.”
He feels like he’s already won, anyway. “The biggest award that I can get is the fact that we made history with this video,” he said. “With all due respect to every single award, that to me is the best award in the world.”