Ricky Martin is the first to admit that the recording process for his new Spanish-language album, A Quien Quiera Escuchar (To Whomever Wants to Listen), was hectic. “We recorded on four different continents,” says Martin, 43, of the Feb. 10 Sony release. “The moment we’d finish a song, we’d run into the studio because there simply wasn’t a chunk of time available.” That’s the price of juggling multiple gigs: The Puerto Rico native played more than 30 shows in 2014, served as a judge on The Voice Australia and The Voice Mexico, launched a clothing collaboration with A Different Fur and faced his toughest job yet: raising twin 6-year-old boys as a single dad.
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You travel so much. Do you leave the kids in Puerto Rico?
I can’t — I don’t work well without them. They’re stuck to me constantly. If I’m in L.A. and have to travel to Hong Kong for 24 hours, I’ll leave them with my mom. But fortunately, I have sons who are warriors and who were born on tour and don’t know anything else. They’re road babies. Some people say, “Ricky, your kids need stability,” and I say, “I’m their stability. They feel unstable if I’m not there.”
Martin with sons Valentino (left) and Matteo in Sydney in 2014.
Do you run your music by them?
I press play and watch their reaction. “Disparo al Corazon” is the second single off the new album, and it’s a song one of them wouldn’t stop singing. So maybe the boys influenced the choice of single.
You haven‘t released an English-language album since 2005‘s Life. Why continue to record in Spanish?
“The Cup of Life” was No. 1 in over 70 countries and it was in Spanish. And I took “Maria” to France, Sweden, everywhere. Look at what has happened with songs like [Don Omar’s] “Danza Kuduro” and [Enrique Iglesias’] “Bailando.” They’re everywhere and they’re in Spanish. Language no longer intimidates.
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The LP mostly consists of romantic ballads in an uptempo world. Why?
I’m looking for the songs that are who I am. I’ve always spoken about specific topics on other albums — like human rights. But love and loss are themes everyone relates to.
As an advocate for gay rights, what do you think of same-sex marriage becoming legal in more and more states?
It’s amazing, isn’t it? By June, the Supreme Court will say, “Let’s stop this nonsense and cover the entire country.” It’s inevitable — equality is inevitable.
This story originally appeared in the Feb. 14 issue of Billboard.