Latin

How Natanael Cano & Alejandro Fernández Teamed Up for Mariachi-Powered 'Amor Tumbado'

Alejandro Fernández, Natanael Cano
Rancho Humilde

Alejandro Fernández and Natanael Cano

Earlier this year, Natanael Cano's manager, Jimmy Humilde, received a reimagined version of Cano's hit song "Amor Tumbado" recorded by Los Angeles-based Mariachi Los Toros over the summer. At first listen, the pair fell in love with the mariachi version.

"I thought, 'This sounds really good,'" remembers the 19-year-old trap corridos singer. "I told Jimmy that we should record a new version with this mariachi."

It was then that they thought about reaching out to Alejandro Fernández, one of Latin music’s biggest stars and a mariachi proponent, to ask if he'd want to jump on this new track. "I thought it would be interesting, so I said yes," Fernández tells Billboard. "I had already listened to the original version, and what caught my attention was the guitar and how well the lyrics flow. Honestly, it's a song that is very catchy."

Carlos Parra, director of Mariachi Los Toros and producer of the track's mariachi arrangements, adds that he was incredulous at first when he heard Fernández would be on the new version.

"I'm the type of person that doesn't believe things until I see it," he says. "But my initial thought when recording this new version was wanting to rock the boat because many [traditionalists] in regional Mexican aren't supporting the youth. My hope is that this opens doors for more fusions and to take mariachi music to the youth's ears because they're not listening to it anymore."

Originally released in 2019, the heartbreak anthem "Amor Tumbado" scored Cano his first top 10 song on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs. The track peaked at No. 8 on the tally (dated Feb. 21, 2020).

The new version -- which unites two generations and deftly fuses traditional mariachi with the rising corridos tumbados genre -- was released April 16, a day after the Latin AMAs, where they were scheduled to perform together with Mariachi Los Toros but had to pivot following Fernández's COVID-19 diagnosis.

"My hope is that one day we get to perform it live together. That would be cool," says Cano.

Below, Cano, Fernández and Parra tell Billboard how their unprecedented collaboration was born:

Carlos Parra: I’ve been doing mariachi music all my life. It’s one of the regional Mexican sub-genres that hasn’t died after all these generations. A way for me to keep the traditional alive is to be one with the crowd that is consuming the music right now. I went into our studio last summer and I recorded the track. We were working one of Jimmy’s events and I gave it to him and it blew up from there.

Natanael Cano: Both Jimmy and I loved it and I told him we should record a new version with this mariachi. We shelved the idea for a while until it seemed like the right moment. Then, we thought about asking Alejandro Fernández to join and, well, Alejandro is Alejandro, so when he said yes, we recorded the collab right away. We recorded the track separately but we met up in Guadalajara to record the music video in April.

Alejandro Fernández: Natanael called me to invite me to participate in this new mariachi version. I thought it would be interesting, so I said yes. I am so happy with the end result. It came out better than I expected, to be honest. The key in these collaborations is to have a balance of both styles. The process is about sharing ideas, to listen to one another and, most importantly, to have an open mind and heart. At the end of the day, the art will guide us.

Natanael Cano: The only feedback I had when I listened to the mariachi version was that it didn't have enough of the requinto guitar sound. So, I asked the producer to add more of the guitar for it to sound like a real fusion of both styles: tumbado and mariachi.

Carlos Parra: I didn't want to make corridos tumbados sound like mariachi music. The fusion was more of re-creating the corrido tumbado with their style of playing. We were representing them with our instruments. I tried to join those genres so they could be one. You still get that feeling of their music and of the sierreño instruments.

Alejandro Fernández: Our teams worked hard to respect each others styles. It was important to have the original version's guitar to combine with the mariachi elements. It came out beautifully. In fact, I'm thinking of incorporating the sierreña guitar in my other productions.

Natanael Cano: We're so happy with the final product and the experience was humbling. I met Alejandro in person when we were shooting the video. I went to say hello and he greeted me as if we had known each other for a long time. We talked a lot and had a great time. It never felt like we were there to work, just enjoy the moment. For someone like Alejandro to record with me, a new artist singing a new genre that many people still don't know, it's incredible.

Alejandro Fernández: For me it's important to support new generations. I remember that in certain moments of my career I've felt alone. I want the new generation of regional Mexican artists to feel supported and included in the great traditions of our music. I hope Natanael felt that. It was an honor to get to know him and be part of this new phase of "Amor Tumbado."

You Should Know: Chartbreaker Natanael Cano | Billboard