Argentina's Dread Mar I Talks Going Beyond Reggae on New Album, Friendship With J Balvin

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Courtesy of Billboard Argentina 
Dread Mar I

Mariano Castro, aka Dread Mar I, has just released Caminarás Caminos, his seventh studio album, where classical and contemporary pop sounds co-exist, and where at times, reggae is a receding vibration.

Castro talked with Billboard Argentina for almost two hours in his minimalist apartment in the Buenos Aires neighborhood Belgrano.

On the outset of his biggest American tour, Castro makes breakfast while taking a glance at his two last trips. The two videos cut in advance of the new album also reflect where he's standing and where he comes from.

"En el Seno del Amor" is a mixture of reggae and trap that puts him in a fantasy between the desert and California high-rise scenery. But "La Suerte" shows a circular story: a boy obsessed by music, a young musician overwhelmed by life's turns, and an infallible song (as could have been "Tú Sin Mí," his first breakthrough). The story is circular and symbols reappear.

In this new album, the first to be released by Sony Music, reggae is in turn a receding vibration. "I don't want it to be a traditional record," he said. "It alternates between being a dancehall and a roots album. I want it to be diverse. It has my favorite songs."

The search for sound in Caminarás Caminos drove him to the source. A good portion of the album was recorded at the Anchor and SunPower studios, in Kingston, Jamaica, where Castro, escorted by his faithful engineer Emil Cure, followed a song by Gregory Isaacs.

"'Room for Rent' has that mid-'80s electronic touch. We liked a lot how it sounds. If you scratch the surface, Jamaica invented almost everything," he shared. "In every musical genre, there's a Jamaican who push his nose or did something."

In Caminarás Caminos, there aren't featured guests. Why?

That was left for future recordings. I want to make an entire record with featuring guests. I'm just waiting for the right moment.

Could there be a collaboration with J Balvin?

I have the best relationship with him. I wrote him for his birthday, he called me back, we talked. He's doing fine, and he's super humble. I was playing in Los Angeles when someone told me, "Hey, here's J Balvin, we should have called him." I felt ashamed, so I went to greet him, and we had a good time. Afterwards, we've seen each other in New York City. He was shooting a video and called me to pay him a visit.

You're on the crest of the wave, editing one video after another…

A few days ago, I texted him: "Once you've done your part, the best you could, relax and wait and see. What you've done, you've done it responsibly, you've done the appropriate things. Now let the superior power take charge to lead you where you must go."

That was written by a New York lawyer who got tired and one day sold everything and went to the middle of nowhere, to live among some monks. I see that boy (Maluma) desperately trying to be still the number one, to keep staying on focus. I don't want that pressure, and I will never have it.

What's your ambition now?

By now, I'm searching recognition, because we all want to be recognized by what we do after all this time. If that won't happen, I don't care, I won't be crazy. What I care is getting to places I've never been. I've done everything: I've played in theaters, arenas, stadiums… well, not in River Plate, but I've played in All Boys!

Growing up in Latin America or in the United States: What's more important for you?

Wherever I go, I play for Latinos. That's what I feel: It's the need to be with your own blood, having fun. In Latin America, people are pretty much the same, we're not very different, we get in touch. Now I want to get to the farthest places you can imagine.

And people are paying attention to Latin music more than ever.

Yes, thanks to J Balvin, Maluma and all that crazy bunch. People could say, "Hey, everything is reggaetón!" But Latin music is all over the map like it wasn't before. We owe all this to the people who are working right now. We must respect their effort. If you don't like it, then don't listen, but it's hard work.