On a recent Wednesday afternoon Ricky Martin, clad in cargo pants and flip flops, played with his twin boys in the yard of his waterfront Miami home. Upstairs, in his home studio, candles and incense burned as his new album played on the console. Moments later, Martin sat down for a cozy one-on-one over Cuban coffee to discuss his new album, "MAS (Musica + Alma + Sexo)," book, children and coming out.
Click to Read Ricky Martin's comments about every song on "MAS (Musica + Alma + Sexo)."
You look relaxed!
I just got back from Jackson Hole in Wyoming. We were skiing. Unfortunately the kids can't ski yet. We have to wait until they're three or toilet trained. So, none of the above!
So you wrote and recorded the new album here?
Between here and my home in Golden Beach, Fla. Desmond Child practically moved in with his entire family. We had two studios. One for the programmer, another to record bass, guitars and drums.
This album has gone through many changes to become what it is today: A very personal, very up-tempo, fun, danceable album. Did the change in the music come about as a result of the changes in your personal life?
Everything changed last year. I started writing the book and my mind opened up in a thousand ways. And my need to talk about other things and do other sounds solidified. Because writing the book began almost like a game. I'm going to talk about my foundation, my career, my work, without going into great detail. And suddenly, you realize there are missing links and you see very clearly what this book is going to mean for my life. It was a vital pressure that led me to this creative catharsis, for lack of a better word.
When did he book take you in another place?
Within the first 500 words I knew where I stood. It's my way of tearing barriers down and getting rid of a lot of excess baggage I was carrying around. That's why I say that musically we started from scratch. Because lyrically there have to be different texture and nuance.
Why is it a more up-tempo album?
When I get up on stage, the first thing I say is, 'We're here to forget everything and to have a blast the next two hours.' And when I work with my producers, we look for that liberty. It's up-tempo because I'm at a point in my life where I simply want to be, and be free and not be contrived at all.
When you sent that now famous message over the Interent, did your finger hover over the keyboard as you thought, 'Am I making a huge mistake?'
I spent many months figuring out the best way to do it. I thought it could be a song, or an interview, or in the book. But I couldn't wait eight more months. I needed to do this, now. Several months before I pressed send, there was a hate crime in Puerto Rico against a gay boy. And at the time, if I had spoken out, people would have started conjecturing. There are moments of great tension in the book because I was living under great tension. And one Friday, I called my manager and said, I'm doing this on Monday. I spent the entire weekend drafting that letter. And when I sent it, I felt such a relief, such peace and joy. I thought, My God, had I known, I would have done this 10 years ago.
So you spent all this time worrying over nothing...
Yes. That's why I say in the book that fear is in your head. But everybody has to go through their own process. I feel very fortunate that I was able to open up in my 30s and find this sense of peace and clam when there are people in their 40s, their 50s, their 60s who go through life and fie and can never fully love themselves.
I always thought your kids influenced your decision.
I want my children to be proud of their father and to say, 'My father is the best dad in the world.' And I want them to belong to a modern family, and live a path of happiness and calm. Many people have come to me and said, 'Thanks for sharing." It's about opening the doors to diversity in general and accepting that everybody is different.
There are few ballads in this album.
Well we wrote at least 60 songs and obviously, not all are in here. The ones that felt right are in the album. I think there are songs here that can become ballads. The most important thing about this album is it's for the audience, but also for musicians. There's great musicianship here.
It's a great pop album at a time when pop is so hot. That was a happy coincidence, wasn't it?
Yes. You hear what's going on and you try to take it to another level. It's a great time because the melodies that you hear on radio are so rich and they make you feel good. It's what you need right now.
Lets talk about your twins. What's your favorite thing to do with them?
I love dressing them up every morning and working on their looks. I think, 'Lets do the cool pants, and this tank top.' If there's some paparazzi photo around that shows them poorly dressed, it wasn't me!
What is their favorite TV show?
"Yo Gabba Gabba!," "Mickey Mouse Club" in the mornings. And "Thomas The Tank Engine."
What has been the biggest change in your routine?
I'm up at 7:30 every day now. Before, it would be like 1:30 p.m. because if I was in my creative process recording, I'd go to bed at sunrise. I was a night owl. Now, there's heavy energy here. At 9 a.m. kids are screaming.
In 2012 you're going to play Che Guevara in the Broadway revival of "Evita." Why?
"Evita" is a classic, and the opportunity is huge career-wise. After a one-year tour [in support of the album] I think that the stability of Broadway will be great for my kids and [for] me. I'll be able to take them to school, and in the evenings I'll take the stage from 7-10 p.m. Life is wonderful, isn't it?