Santiago Cruz Talks Inspiration Behind Feminism Anthem 'Contar Hasta 3 (O Hasta 10)'

Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Santiago Cruz at AMC Lincoln Square Theater on Jan. 11, 2017 in New York City.  

"We have to get past the fact that not only women should be raising their voices about these issues -- all of us have to."

"It's time that, as songwriters, we do what he have to do and a little more," Colombian singer/songwriter Santiago Cruz says, explaining the inspiration behind his anthem for female-empowerment titled "Contar hasta 3 (O hasta 10)." 

During a recent BMI showcase in Los Angeles, Billboard caught up with the artist who is currently on his Interplanetario Tour in Latin America to talk feminism, performing "Contar hasta 3" in women's prisons and working with Latin Grammy award-winning producer Julio Reyes Copello for the poignant track.

Why did you decide to shed light on women's rights and the feminist movement with your song "Contar hasta 3 (O hasta 10)?"

Perhaps the fact that I was raised by women: my mother, my two grandmothers and 10 aunts. I came from a family where the woman was the main character. They are brave, empowered and very outspoken women. That feminine power or side of the world is very natural for me. When we decided "Contar hasta 3" would be the same single from the album, we thought the best way to communicate that message was through the story of three struggling women. I think if we were all more in touch with our feminine side the world would maybe be a better place.

In Latin culture, there is still this machista mentality -- were you ever worried about the response you'd get from your fans?

Never. I'm a songwriter and for us, what you say and the way you say something matters. I believe in the power of the written and spoken word. You can't take for granted what you say in music because music goes through you and leaves something in you, whether you want it or not. I've always wanted my work to be about self-love and self-respect. If you're in a good place with yourself, you're going to be in a good place with yourself. 

You went around Colombia performing the track in different prisons for women and non-profit organizations. How was that experience like?

It's so powerful what you feel there. You can see in their eyes a sense of despair but at the same time hope. You can see hate but also love. Some of the women in prison had babies in their arms so you can't leave there unharmed. Every word you sing takes a different meaning when you're singing in a place like that because you sing about love, freedom, forgiveness and when you sing it in a prison, everything has a more powerful meaning. 

#YoCuentoHasta3

Si eres una mujer poderosa, valiente, luchadora, o tienes la fortuna de conocer mujeres así, dale like --y compártelo-- #YoCuentoHasta3 -- La mujer colombiana, las mujeres de todas partes, poderosas, valientes, luchadoras, las que se levantan todos los días, las que se equivocan e igual se levantan, las que construyen, las que son columna vertebral... Esto fue un poco de lo que vivimos la semana del 6 al 10 de Marzo. Y que mejor marco que las palabras de Jineth Bedoya Lima #NoEsHoraDeCallar

Posted by SANTIAGO CRUZ on Tuesday, March 21, 2017

 

What's the best reaction you've heard about the song?

I received one message about the song from a lady struggling with cancer and she told that every time she's on chemotherapy, my song helps her through that process. What can you respond to that? My work is done. What more can you ask for?

How was it working with Julio Reyes Copello, not the producer, but the songwriter?

I wanted to pick his brain as a songwriter and it was amazing. I love his work and love him as a person. The song was born when we started talking about our kids and the thought that you won't always be able to protect them because they have to make mistakes and they have to fall and recompose and stand up for themselves. And it jumps to a different scale when you have daughters. 

I think it's time that, as songwriters, we do what he have to do and a little more. All around Latin America and the U.S., we have to get past the fact that not only women should be raising their voices about these issues -- all of us have to.