“Optimista” is a word that is synonymous with the Latin-Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Caloncho. If you’re acquainted with the 35-year-old’s work, you may recall one of his most popular songs by the same name. Personally, one of my engrained memories from Dec. 2019 – before we knew that our lives were going to change forever – was his last show in Los Angeles at the famous Roxy Theatre. Who would’ve thought that the closing song would resonate with something more profound in the coming months?
At the show, he closed his setlist with “Optimista,” an idealist track that describes how your perspective helps transform your life into a positive one. This particular song would be one of the songs that would shift the Mexican artist’s career. And with reason.
The 2017 song’s lyrics echoed through my head after the show: “Despierto y agradezco / Todos los días son perfectos / Uno decide cómo verlos / Hay que saber seleccionar.” It even became my morning mantra from that day forward. A few months later, when the global pandemic hit, I started digging into Caloncho’s discography, aiming to squeeze out all the positivity I could recall from the blissful memory of his tour in 2019.
Searching through his social media, I found that I wasn’t the only one that felt a sense of peace while listening to his music catalog. Twitter users regularly write to Caloncho about the encouragement he brings them through his lyrics, which frequently explore love and personal happiness. Even in 2020, when there were no signs of overcoming the global pandemic, the “Somos Instantes” singer received messages of gratitude, often referring to “Optimista.” But how does a musician remain positive even when the world appears to be falling apart?
In a recent conversation with Remezcla, Caloncho spoke about how “Optimista” changed his career, remains positive, and his newest album Buen Pez, which came out on May 31 and included an out-of-the-box cumbia collaboration “Separarnos” featuring Texan native Bobby Pulido.
Buen Pez sounds like a continuation of “Optimista.” Tell us about how this song changed your career.
“Optimista” changed my career because it connected with many people. It has been appealing and empathetic to many people regardless of their age. There are little kids who really like the song, as well as the grandparents of those kids. Lately, I like to be associated with that positivism because I think it’s valuable to share. Especially because this niche is not fully used. If you think of songs about the bright side [of things], there aren’t that many. But it doesn’t mean it’s the reality. You can’t be 100 percent happy all the time. The fact that [“Optimista”] exists is because [people] were not at [their] best moment. [It’s] when you start to look for the ideal — which is to feel good, to have the ability to see what surrounds you. [That’s when you start realizing] what is valuable and being grateful for it. That’s when you find happiness or fulfillment.
How do you remain positive?
The trick is when you are aware or have the ability to know how to recognize that the little things are very valuable and when you are grateful for them. With that gratitude, you can find this feeling of complete happiness. Of joy. Of pleasure. Of gratitude, again.
“The trick [to staying positive] is when you are aware or have the ability to know how to recognize that the little things are very valuable & when you are grateful for them. With that gratitude, you can find this feeling of complete happiness.”
Like this album’s single “Somos Instantes,” many of your songs call to stay in the present. How do you remain present with everything going on in our daily lives?
Once again, it’s by recognizing what is the ideal. What should we be doing? This pandemic or this situation in which we all find ourselves suddenly overwhelmed me and made me want to be aware that this [life] is a blink of an eye. Life is very short if you think about it. In fact, in the timeline of planet Earth, humanity is a second. Imagine our personal lives? That’s why we must try to take advantage of it and do what we like and see the value of the simple things. Once you don’t have it, you realize that it’s valuable. Our freedom, for example, sharing with people, not wearing a face mask, etc. Those are the kinds of little things that we didn’t even realize we had until we lost it.
This album brings new sounds to your roster. Like cumbia with “Separarnos,” a hint of rap with “Naranja a Morado,” and a mariachi feel to “Luciérnagas.” What can you tell us about this music evolution?
It has to do with a curiosity that I fortunately still have. I like music. I like to experiment with new or foreign genres. Mostly because I love that they take you to new places. I’ve been doing cumbia for a long time. With “Luciérnagas,” the mariachi approach, it’s something I had to experiment with. Why not? Why close myself to what I usually do? Which is usually to play with genres out of curiosity and a personal search.
How’d the collaboration “Separarnos” with Bobby Pulido happen?
I know Bobby Pulido. I mean, as a fan, I’ve known him for a long time, through “Desvelado” and “Ojalá Te Animes.” These are songs that I’ve had on my playlist, and I listen to them often. “Desvelado” is a song that I sing live. I like to play a very popular song at shows – something foreign to me, but that people enjoy. So we came up with an extraordinary idea that was, “Hey, why don’t we look Bobby up and see if it can work?” I give credit to my manager, Abraham, who was the one who took on the challenge of looking for him and arranging a meal. He’s an excellent guy, super committed to his art and his music. And what resulted was something very beautiful in the collaboration; both parties put a lot of their creative input.
Lastly, tell us more about the Telegram “La Hermana República del Buen Pez.” How do you use this to communicate with your fans?
What we really want to generate is connection, community, collectivity, and learning. It’s a great way to be in contact, know what people think about the project, keep people up to date with exclusive content, and collectively learn together. It’s for this community of like-minded people who can be factors of change through their individuality.
Listen to Buen Pez below.