Latin Grammy Nominee Spotlight: Producer & Composer Julio Reyes Copello

Courtesy of Art House Records
Julio Reyes Copello

Leading the 2016 Latin Grammy Awards nominations is producer and composer Julio Reyes Copello, who scored four nods, including record of the year for "Iguales" by Diego Torres and album of the year for Andrés Cepeda's Mil Ciudades, Torres' Buena Vida and Fonseca's Conexión.

The Colombian artist, no stranger to this type of recognition as one of the most nominated producers by the Latin Grammys in the last decade, welcomes the nods with the same excitement he did the first time he was recognized.

Although this time around, it's safe to say the recognition is a bit more special since he's sharing the spotlight with fellow Colombian musicians Cepeda and Fonseca -- the first Colombian superstars he's ever worked with.

Just weeks away from the 17th edition of the Latin Grammys, Billboard caught up with the coveted producer, who has worked with chart-topping artists including Jennifer Lopez and Alejandro Sanz and is the creative mind behind Marc Anthony's "Vivir mi vida" and Ricky Martin's "Disparo al corazón."

With 21 Latin Grammy nominations under your belt, is the excitement still the same for you from when you were nominated the first time?

I always feel very excited. First of all because it's a recognition for doing what I love the most. That's the most important and a blessing in itself. Second, I feel that the spirit behind the Latin Grammys is to set the stage for a healthy competition and it has a positive effect on all of us in this industry. It keeps you trying to create the best version of yourself as a human being, as a composer and in some way, it reminds you of the responsibility you have to do things well. Those are the two most important things about these awards.

How do you decide if you want to collaborate with an artist on their musical project?

Usually, the ask comes from the artist and if I'm interested, I become invested in that project 100%. This time around there's something very special about these nominations. It's the first time I was able to work with some of my paisanos, artists from my country Colombia like Andrés Cepeda and Fonseca. I had never worked with artists from Colombia that are established in the industry like they are. So that was definitely an element that made me even more interested in wanting to work with their projects, because we share the same DNA, childhood stories and experiences that are very important to translate when you're creating music.

As a producer, is making a "hit" a priority when working on a new project?

The best business is the one where you can actually leave the "business mentality" on the side. The best song is the one that is born spontaneously. Obviously, we know the rules to this game but I try to avoid that the reason why we're making music is because we want to make a hit. If that mentality has some sort of influence on the music, the creation loses emotion and spontaneity. If it happens on it's own, then the magic of the song is even greater.

If making a "hit" is not the mentality, how do you make a song resonate with an audience?

I believe in intuition of an artist. We have VIP access to a place where ideas are born. The creative process that in my opinion takes to conquer an audience is always associated with a motivation to make something different, new and surprise. To be innovative and bring the unpredictable in music. When I produce or write, I'm in always in the mindset of trying to renovate and not to repeat stuff we've heard before. We can't imitate, we should be trend setters.

In an ever-changing industry, what are you looking forward to in Latin music?

I try not to get scared by all the changes that I've seen in the industry, instead I feel very curious and excited. When music streaming services like Spotify came around everyone was scared, but for me, a platform like that seems incredible and a transparent where you can actually see in numbers how many times a song has been heard. Although, there are still a ot of things we need to work on. For example, giving songwriters the credit and justice they deserve. I feel that's something we need to work on. We have to remember that without songwriters there aren't songs and without songs there aren't artists. The songwriter has to be super appreciated so there can be art.

In times of political turmoil, not only in the U.S. but also in Latin American countries, many artists you've worked with have turned to music to fight a cause or join a movement. In your opinion, how much responsibility does an artist or music have in issues like these?

Music does have the responsibility to alleviate the weight of reality. From my point of view, as creators of music that is our job. To reduce aggressiveness and to put things in perspective. Music has the ability to do that, and that's when I get involved. Our responsibility is to give a more positive perspective to reality and in some way create empathy. I respect any political associationbut when it comes to issues that affect your spirit, the best way to react is to provide help the best way one can. There is no clearer example and message of tolerance than the one you find in music.


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