Sebastián Yatra has been on winning streak. Of course there’s the ultra success of his Disney song “Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto, which was shortlisted for the Oscar for best original song and currently sits at No. 2 on the Hot Latin Songs chart (dated Jan. 22). But just this week, he bought his first house ever and today (Jan. 28), he released his third studio titled Dharma.
Three years since Fantasía, which peaked at No. 5 on Top Latin Albums (April 27, 2019), his new set, comprised of 17 tracks, is his most eclectic yet where Yatra dabbles in punk rock (“Las Dudas”), cumbia (“Amor Pasajero”), vallenato and flamenco (“Dharma”), reggaeton (“Si Me La Haces”) and pop (“Modo Avión”).
“[This album] taught me that you don’t have to limit your creativity,” says the 27-year-old Colombian singer-songwriter. “If I tell myself that I’m only good at making ballads or that I’m only good at making pop, I will only be good at that. But I’ve never questioned if I would sound good in a rhythm or not. I’m also not thinking, ‘Oh, I’m going to show everyone that I can be good in every genre.’ I just try to make an amazing song that goes with who I am and it just happens to be that type of music.”
Going into the studio with this mentality, one that gives him creative freedom to experiment, allowed him to reach a state of mind he hadn’t before. After writing about all the emotions (sadness, joy, hope) he had learned to embrace during the last two years of his life, he read about the meaning of dharma and “there was a click.”
“Dharma means accepting reality,” explains Yatra. “Many times, when we are sad, we want to stop feeling this way as quickly as possible and that causes us anxiety. When we are happy, we spend our time worrying about when that happiness will end, which takes away our peace. In our dharma, we simply accept each emotion and event for what it is.”
In other words, the velvety-voiced artist is living in the moment and taking it all in. “I adopted this new philosophy of life,” he says. “I started doing yoga, going to therapy and it’s been a moment of growth where now I am understanding the message these songs had. Sometimes it’s my truth or sometimes its someone else’s truth. And sometimes it’s just the truth of society as whole.”
Below, Yatra breaks down five tracks from Dharma.
“Quererte Bonito” with Elena Rose
Out of the stuff I’ve written, this song is my masterpiece. I had just met Elena the day before we wrote this song. She’s just so wonderful and has so much light, charisma and has an angelic voice. We had met to write a song just for me, but I asked her to meet me the next day so that we could write another song that we could sing together. So we did and we sat at the dock to write this song.
It’s just about that perfect moment in love when there’s no drama, expectations and you’re completely synchronized. You become waves that don’t crash with each other. The only way to sing this song and do it right was by looking at each other in the eye. We recorded it live with Julio Reyes Copello on the piano and me and Elena singing while looking at each other, holding hands and we sang this song out of our hearts. If you listen to this song you’ll get lost in it.
“Las Dudas” with Aitana
One of the guys I wrote the song with came with a story and I was like, “Ok tell me more.” I just grab onto certain things that people say. During that time, I had been listening a lot to Soda Estereo and Spanish rock and I was like let’s tell this story but in a rock style. And what’s cool about songwriting is each of us can put like our own stories and styles inside a song. And we came up with this wonderful song that I absolutely love. I thought it would be like soft rock at the beginning and then I went and produced it with El Dandee and Andres Torres — they had also just produced Aitana’s last album, which was all like punk rock, and that’s where they took this song.
The tempo for it is like 170 and I wrote it in 150. When we recorded the song and increased the tempo, it was like I was singing a Blink-182 song. They’re like, “if you don’t do it with Aitana, you’re wasting your time.” Her and I are doing La Voz in Spain, we’re coaches, and I showed her the song and she loved it. I asked her if we could sing it together and she said, “Hell yeah let’s try it out.” It’s definitely one of my favorite songs on the album.
“Dharma” with Rosario and Jorge Celedón
Everything about this song is just magic. I produced it with Manuel Lara, who’s produced a lot of the songs on this album. He told me they wanted to do a mix of flamenco and vallenato and I really didn’t think what could happen with that but I was down. We started the song with some guitar chords and the songwriter I wrote it with, he comes into the room singing, “Yo que soy un cabrón, qué hice para merecerte.” And he’s just chilling there and I’m like, “That’s dope what song is that?” And he’s like, “I just wrote it right now.” Then I respond, “Unos me llaman ladrón y otros dicen que es suerte.” We did a melody that is inspired in Andres Cepeda and the rest is history. I got to sing it with two of my favorite artists who represent the folk music from their countries in a majestic way.
Ever since I wrote this song and recorded it, I said whatever album it goes in, this song has to open the album because it sets the tone for who I am as a musician and what I want to say. It has nostalgia but it also has a lot of like magic and talks about the stars and the moon and I’m very connected to all of these things. It also has hope so it like makes you feel some kind of way.
It’s the ultimate pop song. It’s a song that in English would be crazy. I want to record a video for it and just do a bunch of crazy stuff. I really love the lyrics, a lot of them have to do with my personal life and a lot of them have to do with the other songwriters on it as well. We each put a little bit of ourselves. It’s a chorus that is totally me 100% with these melody changes that I do. Everything about that song is just perfect.