Calle 13's Réne Pérez on the Connections Between Sports, Songwriting & Family Life

Dolores Ochoa/AP Images
Rene Perez, of Puerto Rico's band Calle 13, performs during a concert in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, Saturday, May 3, 2014.

Calle 13 partners with ESPN Deportes for Pan American Games.

Calle 13 frontman Réne Pérez, a.k.a. Residente, is the face of ESPN Deportes’ promo campaign for the 2015 Pan American Games. Calle 13’s inspiring song “Respire el Momento,” from the Grammy-winning album Multi_Viral, is the network’s anthem for the games.

While the games are being played in Toronto in July, Pérez, Eduardo Cabra, and the duo’s band will be on the European leg of the Multi_Viral tour. 

Calle 13's Réne Pérez Sings ESPN Anthem for Pan American Games

Pérez spoke to Billboard about training for the tour, partnering with ESPN, his family life in Brooklyn, and his early dream of playing major league baseball.

When ESPN Deportes approached you about using a Calle 13 song, as well as your image for its broadcast of the 2015 Pan American Games, what was you reaction?

I’ve played sports all my life. I used to play baseball and I’m a sports fan, and “Respire el Momento” ["Breathe the Moment"] is a song that shares the energy that you experience in this type of competition. It’s a song about life and about seizing the moment and the momentum to achieve something. It seemed like the perfect song for the games. It’s about life and living and making the most of the moment in order to enjoy life.

“Respire el Momento” is the first song on Calle 13’s latest album Multi_Viral [after a poetic intro by the late Eduardo Galeano]. What was your inspiration for the song?

When I wrote it, I wanted to do a narrative and descriptive song that describes life, that talks about life descriptively and meticulously; it talks about life and describes even death as a triumph. It’s a song about the triumph of life and about spirit. It has a spiritual side, but it’s a spiritual side with energy. Aggressive energy; strength.

You appear in ESPN’s promo video for the Pan American Games along with athletes from various sports. Are you playing any sports in the video?

I'm just singing. I used to play baseball all the time, all my life. When I was a kid I lived in front of a baseball park. I was always at the park practicing -- I took it seriously. The same way that I write and take that very seriously. The same way I am doing my music now I used to do with baseball. I thought I was going to be playing in the major leagues. But in the end I had to decide between baseball and art. And I chose art.

You have a son now [baby Milo, with wife Soledad Fandiño]. Will you encourage him to play sports?

I think sports helps a lot. It gives you discipline. When you’re playing sports, it’s not only to be in shape with your body physically, but also to keep your mind in shape. I think everyone should play some sports. So yes, my son will play sports. Baseball, boxing, whatever he wants.

What sports do you practice now?

I’m always running, and also I have to train before every concert. I have to be in shape because I’m rapping and jumping at the same time for two hours and a half almost every day. Now for the European tour it will be like that. Ten concerts in a row, so you have to be in shape.

I have a trainer here in New York. When I’m on tour, one of the security guards trains with me, but I do it by myself, too. It also helps with the writing. I have my mind clear. Doing exercise is great for creativity.

How has having a family changed your life?

I’ve never been a party guy. I used to go to some parties, but I’m focused on my writing, and also on my family all the time. I’m just going from the studio to my apartment [in Brooklyn] and that’s my thing now. Sometimes I go to art galleries, or to see some musicians and then I go back to the studio or to the apartment.

Having a family is affecting my life, but it’s not that I’m going to change what I am. I’m writing now; I’m putting all my effort into something new and original and great.

Of course my son gives me the energy to work harder, to work better. But it’s like in sports; I have a battle with the lyrics. Sometimes it takes me longer to write, and it's like a battle for a month, two months. I always write and maybe its ok, maybe the lyrics are ok, and I don't like it and I keep going. I’m not quick to accept the first thing that I write, or the second. That’s my artistic spirit, and my athletic spirit. 


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