Prince Royce_Gabito Ballesteros

INTERVIEW: Prince Royce Talks Innovating Bachata & Going Tumbado with Gabito Ballesteros

Photo by Pipe Jaramillo.

Prince Royce evolves with his music. On Jan. 16, the Dominican-American singer released “Cosas de la Peda” alongside Gabito Ballesteros, demonstrating another facet of his multi-genre talent: bachata tumbada. Ahead of the song and music video release, Remezcla talked to Royce about using traditional Regional Mexican elements throughout his musical trajectory, how bachata and música mexicana are similar, and what it’s like to work with the young corridos tumbados star.

Although Royce is known for bachata, he has a broad musical palette. He’s influenced by OG Caribbean artists like Juan Luis Guerra and Aventura, as well as genres like merengue, salsa, vallenato, and even música mexicana. What particularly excites him about these musical categories is that they all have live instruments in common, so he tends to listen to them as much as he can.

Because of these musical parallels, ever since his music career started in 2010, he’s intentional about innovating bachata with the genres mentioned above. He recalls that in the past years, he has implemented regional Mexican music elements like violins in his track “Corazón Sin Cara” and mariachi in his hit “Incondicional.” He’s also collaborated with Mexican banda/corrido singer Gerardo Ortiz on “Moneda,” a bachata-driven track. Since then, he’s been wanting to bring even more música mexicana elements to future projects. Cue in Ballesteros, the emerging Mexican singer who tied everything together.

Royce calls “Cosas de la Peda” a “special record” and one of his favorites from his upcoming album Llamada Perdida (due Feb. 16). “For like two years, I’ve been wanting to do this ‘Incondicional’ format of bringing regional Mexican into bachata again,” he tells Remezcla. Though he wasn’t familiar with Ballesteros’ music, someone Royce worked with put him onto his music. “He’s like, ‘Yo, you’ve been wanting to do this regional Mexican fusion? This is the kid. His swag is different; he’s super dope,” he shares. 

After finding Ballesteros, Royce decided to make the song he was working on “full tumbado, full regional Mexican,” then take those musical elements and put them back into bachata. The result? A sensual bachata beat featuring Mexican trumpets, classic guitars, and double bass to amplify each genre’s most prized components.

“That’s how I like to do music, where you could truly feel both essences of the two artists in one track. Not just melodically and lyrically, but with the beat,” he says. “Obviously, I’ve recorded salsa before. I’ve done so many genres before. But this type of thing is what’s more special to me.” He praises Ballesteros’ verse as “conversational” and “clever,” referring to his quick-witted line about Laura Bozzo: “Si fuera con Laura, sería el más desgraciado.” 

During the conversation with Remezcla, he mentions how “cool” it is for regional Mexican artists to have their moment and notes that he’s been following the genre for a while, noticing how the genre’s popularity has crossed the nation and how award shows are embracing it more. 

“It reminds me a lot of the moment bachata had,” Royce says, recalling how hard it is for a Latine genre to have mainstream attention. “The genres are very similar. It’s live instruments. They got a band on stage. They’re singing songs that are romantic. They’re saying meaningful things in the lyrics. So it’s a very rich genre,” he explains.

[Bachata and música mexicana] are very similar. It’s live instruments. They got a band on stage. They’re singing songs that are romantic. They’re saying meaningful things in the lyrics. So it’s a very rich genre.

Another parallel Royce notices between Mexican music and bachata is the hurdles that aspiring artists can face. When asked where he sees bachata going next, he shares: “[The first thing is] finding new ways for kids that don’t got the money to pay for so many musicians – how can they start recording bachata? A song could be like 10 grand just in instruments. And I’m pretty sure banda is like that too because there are so many instruments. But how do we find ways to get kids to be able to record music easier with less money? Because it’s hard.” 

“I think one thing that benefited reggaeton with the youth is that they could do a majority of the beat and song on one laptop,” he says. “And that’s not the same for banda, for salsa, for merengue, for bachata.”

Though he doesn’t know what’s next for him, he knows that now is the right time for a “bachata tumbada type of vibe.” And he’s not wrong, considering corridos’ shapeshifting popularity in the last few years. “We’re doing it now, but I’m not sure if we can do it again, you know what I mean? Because now I’m going to want to do something different,” Royce says. 

“Cosas de la Peda” is part of Prince Royce’s upcoming album Llamada Perdida, out Feb. 16.