Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
Miami-based producer Rudy Pérez has ranked No. 1 on the Billboard year-end recap of Hot Latin Tracks Producers for three consecutive years. Now, Pérez, known for his high-quality productions, is up for the Latin producer of the year honor at the Billboard Latin Music Awards April 28 in Miami.
If he wins, he will have taken home the trophy for three straight years.
Though Pérez has a penchant for romantic fare, his output is extraordinarily eclectic, and prolific. Last year he produced tracks for acts as varied as Los Temerarios, Jennifer Peña, Christian Castro and Luis Fonsi, as well as newcomers like Betzaida, Area 305 and Victoria.
On the eve of the awards, Pérez spoke with Billboard about his work and vision.
What is your secret for such sustained success?
I think it's all the different things I do. You have a pop version of "Más Que Tu Amigo" by Marco Antonio Solís. Then you have a super ballad with Christian Castro. Then you have a pop/rock song like "Quién Te Dijo Eso" with Luis Fonsi. That's what keeps it fresh.
A lot of people think I just do the ballads; they don't realize I'm doing all kinds of things. The business, as we know, isn't blooming, so you've got to take whatever comes and what makes sense. Thank God all these projects I've done, I love them. I love the artists.
What defines the Rudy Pérez sound?
I still have great engineers. A lot of people today buy a little Pro Tools setup and call themselves engineers, and they don't want to pay great engineers an hourly fee. And you know, that's an art form. The reason I know is because I was an engineer for 17 years. And to get a guy like Bruce Weeden, my chief engineer, a guy like that, I value him completely.
I still have a lot of respect for engineers, and I know in my heart and in my ears that they make a hell of a difference. In this time we're living, [with] this uncertainty of sales not happening as much as we'd like them to and downloading and piracy, I think that if people care to buy and own it, it's only because of quality: great content in music, in production, in artwork.
Because [fans] can [download music] for free, I really believe a lot of labels are trying to cut corners, but it doesn't make any sense to me. There's a point where you have to draw the line, because product is what keeps this industry alive. And if they keep lowering the rates and lowering the rates of the musicians, it will lower the quality.
Musically speaking, what defines you?
I always, always, always try to get the song content that I'm involved with. A lot of people today, they write songs that begin with a loop. You go to a songwriting session, and they say, "Check this loop out." I'm like, "Why don't we go to the piano, find a melody, some chord changes?"
It really devastated me the other day when I was watching "American Idol." There's this girl representing Miami and they went to her family's house, and the journalist asks, "Well, how do you think she did tonight?" And the family goes, "Oh, she did great. But the song was not that great." You know what the song was? "My Love" by Paul McCartney. And that's the mentality of today's youth. They don't realize that once you run out of those loops you got to go back to the essence. Go to Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney.
So I always like to make sure that the songs have some worthiness to be in a record. To me, if the song doesn't do something for me in the first 30 seconds, it isn't happening. Don't wait for the chorus. Have a storyline that people understand in the street. And then again, you have to have some kind of surprise and some refreshing phrase here and there. And as long as people keep falling in love and falling out of love, I still have a job. Love songs will be around forever.
Is it always love songs for you?
Even if they're uptempo, I always try to keep it romantic. [My wife] Betsy was saying, "Honey, why don't you write a reggaetón song?" And I said, "Betsy, let me stick to what I know."