Latin

Pedro Capó Talks 'Calma' Success, Teaming With Farruko and Alicia Keys, & Landing His First Hot 100 Hit

The latest hit from Puerto Rico native Capó, 38, reached a No. 3 peak on Hot Latin Songs.
Paula Falla

The latest hit from Puerto Rico native Capó, 38, reached a No. 3 peak on Hot Latin Songs.

Pedro Capó’s journey with “Calma” began in a very innocent way. In fact, the song was never meant to be a single.

“We were not shooting for a single. We were not imagining it was going to achieve the success it's having right now, but I think that speaks about the song -- the honesty and the non-pretentious way that it was written,” the 38-year-old Puerto Rico native tells Billboard of his reggae-infused tropical bop.

“Calma” originally dropped in July 2018 before Farruko jumped on the song for the remix in October. Their infectious collaboration earned Capó many chart firsts: HIs first top 10 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart, first Latin Airplay No. 1, and his first-ever Billboard Hot 100 hit. And in April 2019, Alicia Keys joined the two Puerto Rican artists and gave “Calma” the bilingual treatment.

As "Calma" continues to climb the Hot 100 (currently at No. 80), Capó chatted with Billboard about the inspiration behind the song's laid-back vibe and how he managed to recruit both Farruko and Alicia Keys for the fiery remixes.

What inspired the song’s laid-back vibe?

We were trying to re-create this familiar scene [in Puerto Rico] where we go to the beach, disconnect and be present. The original demo was really slow, and the label wasn’t connecting with it. It was supposed to buy us time until the actual single, but once it dropped, we started seeing kids from Russia doing covers. That caught our attention.

How did you recruit Farruko and Alicia Keys for the “Calma” remixes?

Farruko sent me a DM on Instagram and said, "I personally connected with the song -- the Puerto Rican like me that lives outside of the island, that nostalgia. I'd love to be part of this song. It has world appeal, and I think we can make something special out of it."

Alicia heard it on vacation in Tulum [Mexico], inquired about it and [got in] contact with somebody at Sony. The fact that she came to Puerto Rico [for the music video] was pretty amazing. I've been following her and respecting her art since she came out with Songs in A Minor [in 2001]. I remember exactly where I was when that album [came out], so I'm pretty blown away by the fact that Alicia Keys is in this track. I’m still trying to get over it! [Laughs.]

How was it to work with Alicia Keys?

Amazing. She's one of those special people -- she walks into a room and you feel it. She illuminates it, she has a beautiful, pure, transparent smile. And she was very warm, very gracious, humble, she was talking to everybody, the extras. She was very curious about our culture and she was having the time of her life. 

When was the first time that you realized you had a hit in your hands? 

It was definitely once Farruko called me and said, "Listen, I'm feeling this song." And what he put in the song was his true feelings. So, I feel that his honesty and the way that he opened up, almost vulnerable, and connected with the song has a lot to do with it. So, the second that happened I was like, "We might have something crazy in our hands."

What's the craziest place that you've heard the song?

India, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Korea -- those places seem very far to me. I've never been, so it really blows my mind how the song has crossed over language and culture barriers. But I mean, everywhere, right now, to be honest. I'm blown away that it's sounding in, I don’t know, Alabama! [Laughs.] It's just nuts.

That speaks to the worldwide appeal of Latin music these days. How do you personally feel Latin is being received in today's music landscape?

I think we're top dog right now. We were just in Europe in Switzerland, France, Germany, and everything you hear coming out of cars and stores, restaurants, it's Latin music. It has a lot to do with the fact that we've always made good music; we've always had good contributions culturally, music is not the exception. And also, the way that we consume music nowadays -- digital platforms have kind of broken down those language barriers. I'm happy that we get to shine worldwide, and I'm honored to be part of the movement and part of the conversation.

“Calma” is your first Hot 100 hit. What does that achievement mean to you?

It’s an honor. The day we wrote it, I told my manager, “I feel like I wrote the most special song of my life.” I've been working at it for over 12 years now -- to receive this [success] with a song that represents my people, our lifestyle, it’s what dreams are made of.

A version of this article originally appeared in the June 1 issue of Billboard.