Sunday, May 2, 2010

Optimo: A World Domination..For the Ladies.

Like Aventura before them, they blend bachata, r&b, and pop for their sound. Unlike Aventura, they are still on their way to making their name a household one. Yet, with hits such as “Falta Amor” (“Missing Love”) and their biggest single “Conectate,” (“Connect with You”) making a mark on Billboards Latin Charts, and with a little help from Henry and Lenny Santos from Aventura, they seem to be well on their way to worldwide fame. Optimo’s sophomore effort A World Tour continues where their debut left off; with clean, fresh sounding Bachata for the masses. Members Romantico (vocals), E.MJ (bass), and Neit (guitar) have definitely returned full force.

For Optimo, it all started with their single “Falta Amor.” “That was our first song, and the first song that made us know that we were accepted by the world,” says Romantico. Then came their successful self-titled debut album, and after years of touring came their second album, A World Tour, with its first single “Ya Te Perdi” (I’ve Already Lost You) which combindes cool-bachata guitar by Neit, rhythmic bass by E. MJ, and Romantico's strong, creamy voice.

The album’s title A World Tour, may sound like a live album, but is actually an album of new material. “We named it the world tour because there are so many places we haven’t been, and with this album we plan to start promoting all over, from Columbia, Honduras, Europe. Actually with this album we focus more on Spanish, all the songs are in Spanish,” says singer Romantico.

The group is beginning to take more creative control of their material, writing or co-writing most of the album. “I actually wrote a lot on this album,” says Romantico. “I have about 6 songs. We worked with Lenny from Aventura, he wrote and produced {some of the material}, and for him to look back and recognize our talent and work with us was a privilege to us.”

Aventura, a worldwide known Bachata group known for hits “Un Beso,” “Obsession,” and the recent “El Perdedor” gave Optimo a helping hand with this disc. For Optimo, this isn’t a first time collaboration. “They are cool people, we knew each other from before, to me it’s like ‘Hey what’s up!’ with them, but at the same time, they are very picky on who they work with, and for them to work with us was like ‘wow!’”

Working with Aventura is one way to make a good album, but making a magical cover of Ana Gabriel’s “Besos Prohibidos” (“Forbidden Kisses”) is another way. The track, not only is a stand-out on the disc, but gave the group an opportunity to learn from the star while trying to get her blessing for the track. “We met her in Miami, and went to her house, and she was a fantastic person, very down to earth person, and I was a very big fan as well. We went through all the paper work, she gave us permission, she’s a very humble person and it was cool she gave us permission,” says Romantico.

In terms of the material the group actually wrote, there came many inspirations for the six-month production. Many of A World Tour’s stronger tracks, such as “La Cuchillo,” were written by Romantico. On creating these tracks, Romantico says “something comes to my head, like a hook and I’ll make a story about it. Or the song “La Cuchilla” (The Knife) that really happened a friend of my brothers went to his wife with a gun thinking he took out all the bullets but he didn’t and he killed her. And he went to jail, and he kept calling me. I wrote it when I was 16, and it’s a very powerful song, it’s not a matter of ‘she left me’, but more about God’s will.” Another track, “Mya” was inspired by the group’s singer Romantico’s daughter of the same name.

Bachata, while a beautiful genre of Latin music, hasn’t proven too popular until lately in the U.S. where the members grown up, but many artists have paved the way and given inspiration to the members. “Juan Luis Guerra for one. He changed everything when he came out, and Anthony Santos and of course Aventura,” says Romantico.

With the inspirations, their talent, and years of hard work, they have achieved stateside success. “Financially and in terms of popularity, things have changed,” Romantico says. “ We walk down the street and it’s come to the point that when I walk down the street and a guy is looking at me, and I’m thinking he’s looking at me wrong, and I forget that I’m an artist and he’ll be like ‘aren’t you from Optimo?’”

Success and the glory of fame aside, there is a lack of privacy for Romantico. “There are those days where you have those bad days and you have to learn with every moment, because sometimes you might have somebody coming to ask you for your autograph and you can’t, and they say ‘aw he’s hateful.’ Even if I’m in a bad mood, you can’t take your private life to work, you know?”

With a full promotional schedule, the members of Optimo are optimistic of their sophomore album’s efforts. “Everybody’s talking about this album in New York, I go anywhere and I’m recognized, for the first album I had those sunglasses on the cover and for the second album I don’t and everyone recognizes me. It’s good, but everybody wants to take a break. Every artist hides a little bit, it’s good because I know that things are really happening, it would be bad if they didn’t recognize me.”

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