Romeo Santos Talks About 'Utopia' Album, New Baby & His Relationship With Aventura

Erniel Rodriguez
Romeo Santos

"Aventura always has something of nostalgia because they are my brothers."

It has been a very special year so far for Romeo Santos. The bachata singer just became a father for the second time and launched his new album, Utopia, which took him about six years to complete.

This week, he claimed his fifth consecutive No. 1 on the Top Latin Albums chart with his fourth studio album, stopping the urban domination on the chart with a traditional bachata album. Also, Utopia debuted No. 18 on the Billboard 200.

"I had this production in mind about six years ago, and every time it crossed my mind to start the project, there were other commitments," Santos tells Billboard in a telephone interview.

Utopia includes 12 new songs produced by Santos between New York and the Dominican Republic and features the best old-school bachateros, including Raulin Rodriguez, Frank Reyes, Antony "El Mayimbe" Santos and Monchy & Alexandra.

Santos spoke exclusively with Billboard about the details of the album, the return of Aventura and the new addition to his family.

Your album UtopĂ­a has landed at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums. How do you feel about breaking in during a time of urban domination?

First of all, I'm part of a team of professionals who put everything in place to make this possible. This was a production of collaborations, so I would not like to take credit for everything,just because I think it's an achievement for the bachata genre, all the exponents of this production, to teach what I understood was necessary for tropical music, for my culture. As a bachatero, I understood that it was a necessary record.

I see that all the tracks are a collaboration, from Aventura, Monchy & Alexandra -- how did you look for these collaborations? Did some of them come to you? Tell us about the process of recording all these songs.

Well, I had this production in mind about six years ago, and every time it crossed my mind to start the project, there were other commitments. I was working on another production, and I didn’t give it the necessary priority to make it happen. I was on the Golden Tour and I started to notice what is happening with tropical music. It is no secret that we are in urban season. And I said, “Wow, if I do not put batteries -- as they say in the Dominican Republic -- and I do not give priority to it, and I do not start to approach these artists, I will never really achieve it.” Then I started calling all the collaborators as a first step. Before doing any kind of movement, musically speaking, to prepare and compose songs, the first step was to talk to each of them about the concept of production. Since if only one of them did not say take part in the production, everything was ruined. So that's where I really started structuring this, and by the grace of God, all of them said, "Yes, I'll be there," and that's when I felt a little more comfortable and started working on the project musically. That's when I started creating melodies. I believe that I recorded 80% of the songs while  on tour in the Golden Tour, when I had free time. I would mount the instruments in my recording studio, tell the artists to download if they were available. The entire production took about six months.

You come from a time when album sales were made with physical CDs and you have adapted so well to the changes. I see you are very active with your social media.

Look, I'm honest: I'm learning. I still need a lot of wisdom in what social networks are. It’s been two years in which I have been uploading more content and I have definitely noticed the difference. The fans demand that the artist has more connection with them at the network level, and I understand it and I respect it. If someone wants to evolve, they need to adapt to the times. This production, Utopia, fell at a good time where I was more accustomed to uploading things, and what I did was play a bit with marketing. Some things were organic, it was not that I sat down at the time of recording the production and said, "I'm going to do this to announce it." There were things that happened and they were like wow. ... It happens that I was going to have the album finished for the last week of March and then I thought, "Maybe make a little joke on April Fool’s Day." And everything was falling in the right place to give a good marketing at the level of social networks. I realized how shocking and important and fundamental the marketing was to see how people connect with production. In the end, the product is the essential thing. If the producer does not like it, it does not matter what kind of promotion you do in the social networks, but definitely this is a process in which I am learning much more how to handle myself in this cyber world.

From this album, what is the collaboration that you consider the most important?

Well, look, honestly they're all special. All the songs that I have in this production, I wanted them to have the potential to be hits. But there are some that perhaps have a special meaning, for example, Monchy & Alexandra’s song. I started to create melodies, and I can say that it was a little challenging, in the sense that it is difficult to make a song with three singers. I can manage the duets. But create a song where there’s three singers and sounds organic -- it was difficult. Also, the song with Aventura always has something of nostalgia because they are my brothers. It is commented so much and sometimes we laugh because we know that we are very united, that we have a very nice relationship, a very special communication. And listening to the single and seeing how we could connect again and that the chemistry has always been there, it was like we had a production that was The Last, and we continued to record another one and it came out that it was not 10 years ago that the group paused ... but months after having released The Last we went back to the studio to record. It was something very special, very beautiful. And watching the video was even more special, seeing the chemistry, visually, it was tremendous.

How is your baby? The news took us all by surprise. How do you feel being a dad again?

Look, it's a very tremendous feeling, that was partly what fit -- and when I say fit, it was organic. I also used this to break the news to people that I have a new production and that I also have a baby -- those were things that came up organically, which is not like I say, "I'm going to have a baby and then I'll announce it." No, none of that. But to answer you, it's such a nice feeling, I still live in my head, I still think of the day he was born, all the moments, I'm enjoying it fully, both things, I'm in a double celebration.

What's your favorite holiday? Because I see that you love Valentine's Day, but April's Fool's Day, you always do something. So which one do you prefer?

I still prefer Halloween. I get to all the clubs, as always, and people know that this is a tradition, has not changed and definitely I like to be with Latinos who enjoy my music, who support my work but who do not know that I am next to them.