“The story of this song started two years ago,” Yatra tells Billboard in an exclusive interview, of when producers Andrés Torres and Mauricio Rengifo (of “Despacito” fame) sent him the track. From the onset, “we wanted to include someone from the mainstream market because the chorus is in English,” says Yatra -- who was born in Colombia but lived here half his life, and speaks perfect English. That’s led to remixes and live collaborations, including his Latin Grammy performance with Halsey last year. But this is the first time Yatra will outright release a track conceived as bilingual.
In terms of who the mainstream act would be, nothing gelled, until Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers stepped in. “It was the best, because we really wanted to record with him,” says Yatra. The timing, too, with the reunited group’s new album Happiness Begins and documentary Chasing Happiness both being released earlier this June, was perfect.
After Joe Jonas recorded his part, Natti Natasha came in to provide the female touch. Then, pal Daddy Yankee, who works closely with her, called to say he was interested in bringing his raps to the song. “He hit it out of the ballpark,” says Yatra, who had long wanted to collaborate with Yankee.
“So we wrote to the Jonas Brothers to tell them, and they said, ‘Parce, if that’s how it’s going to be, then all three of us will be on the song,’” says Yatra. “Three weeks ago we filmed the video en New York, and you feel the happiness in the track.”
Although “Runaway” the single and video will drop next week, Yatra and the Jonas Brothers are already talking about the possibility of performing the song live. “It’s like a great opportunity that life is giving me –from dreaming about getting into the mainstream market to taking these first steps,” says Yatra.