Louis Fonsi is best known for his smash hit “Despacito,” which as of now has been viewed 6.4 billion times on YouTube.
Yes, that’s correct: 6.4 billion, with a “b.” It’s sure to be one of the songs he performs during his show at Fantasy Springs this Friday, Sept. 20.
Despite this amazing success, during a recent phone interview, Fonsi came off as humble and grateful, crediting his collaborator on the song, Daddy Yankee, as well as Justin Bieber, who is featured on a popular remix of the song. As of this writing, that version “only” has 648 million-plus YouTube views.
Of course, the Puerto Rico native is known for much more than “Despacito.” In fact, he said some of his fans aren’t quite sure what to make of the song and the direction of his new album, Vida.
“Oh, they miss the more romantic songs on my past albums, which were more focused around love ballads,” Fonsi said. “I still do that! I am a balladeer at heart, but I also wanted to do more of an upbeat album. … This has some ballads as well, but it also has dance and more of today’s … Latin sound.”
Why did Fonsi—with six platinum albums to his credit before Vida—make the change?
“There is just so much new blood, with kids making amazing beats these days, and I love all that,” Fonsi said. “Fifteen years ago, it was so hard to make your own music, and it was too expensive. Now you can do it with software. It lets you just simply upload your music to the internet for the world to hear, so it’s easier to make great tracks and new sounds.”
Fonsi said he’s especially enjoyed the collaborative nature of some of his newer music.
“If I get a week off, I go home to family but also hit the studio where I write my songs,” he said. “I also love to collaborate and work with new people, so I go on search tours to Nashville, New York, London—anywhere to find people to co-write with.”
Fonsi was born in San Juan but moved to Orlando, Fla., when he was 11. Some of his first jobs were—no surprise—at theme parks.
“I was always a performer,” he said. “It was in my blood even as a child. Working in all the different theme parks was an amazing training ground for me. I then went to the Florida State University School of Music with a full scholarship.”
Fonsi at one point was part a boy band called Big Guys, which included future *NSYNC member Joey Fatone. While that band never made it big, he credited the experience for helping him understand the importance of hard work.
In 2013, Fonsi had a brief stint in Forever Tango on Broadway.
“I love acting. I love Broadway, and I want to go back eventually,” Fonsi said. “But I also love TV. I am a judge on Telemundo’s The Voice. We are starting on the second season. My team won Season 1, so I have a lot to live up to. … I am a positive judge. If I like people, you will know, but if I’m not connecting, they will also know.”
Fonsi said he gains inspiration from R&B greats like Stevie Wonder and Brian McKnight.
“My hero was singer and salsa musician Juan Luis Guerra,” Fonsi said. “He is my all-time-favorite from the Dominican Republic. He is a genius songwriter and one of the nicest human beings on Earth. I am so lucky to now call him a friend and collaborator. I also enjoy Richard Marx, who brings a lot to the table when we collaborate.”
What does Fonsi say to people who may be concerned about going to a show where much of the music will be sung in Spanish?
“I sing in Spanish. I am a Latino artist. I am bilingual, yes, but it’s in my DNA,” Fonsi said. “It’s exciting to go to different countries and sing in my native tongue and see flags in the audience from all over. They might not understand all my lyrics, but dance unites us all.”
Luis Fonsi will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Drive, in Indio. Tickets are $49 to $99. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.