AXS was backstage at the Staples Center in LA for night No. 1 of Calibash 2019 on Jan. 19. Mega 96.3 FM, SBS and LaMusica app brought together today's biggest Latin music stars. As the event's official ticketing outlet, AXS was on-hand to interview some of the artists backstage.
With the growing popularity of Latin music across the globe, for the first time in 12 years of Calibash, this year's event was two-nights long on Saturday and Sunday. Reggaeton music was first put on the map in the mid-2000s with the OGs of the genre like Daddy Yankee, Don Omar and Tego Calderón. Calibash's lineup this year highlighted the ones who paved the way with Yankee, Nicky Jam and Wisin y Yandel on the bill. The current crop of superstars were also included like Anuel AA and Becky G.
Outside of Staples Center was the Calibash pre-fest where Latin music's rising talent got a chance to take the stage. Miami's Bianca flew to LA for the first time to sing her upcoming hit "Bien Pegao" (Very Close). Straight from Monterrey, Mexico, twin brother duo Vice Menta came through with their swaggering Latin trap music. As recent signees to Warner Music Latin, the guys will throw Mexico's hat into the urban music ring that's currently dominated by Puerto Rican and Colombian acts.
"We are happy because we are badly represented," one of Vice Menta's members said in Spanish. "There's not enough [Mexicans] and we're sure that we're changing the world. We'll continue to do it for whatever f**king Mexicans that listen. We have arrived." His brother added in English with excitement, "Let's go!"
Another Calibash pre-fest performer was Alcover, a Latin Grammy-winning producer who has worked on hits with artists like Omar, Nacho and recently, Gloria Trevi. He is making a move from the recording studio to the stage. "It's very different because I had no guidance," he said when asked about that change. "In the Latin community, we have writers that turn into artists, but we had no producers switching careers over."
Alcover named Timbaland, Dr. Dre, Pharrell Williams and Kanye West as inspirations. "If they did not transition to be an artist, you wouldn't even know what they did with these other artists in the past," he said. "It's hard to explain to a person what a producer does, what a writer does. I went that route and I'm happy I'm here today." Alcover also teased that those he producer for could return the favor as guests on his tracks. "We have a few features already in the works and I'm very excited to release them this year," he added.
Dominican reggaetonera Natti Natasha appeared as a special guest when she joined Daddy Yankee onstage for the "Dura" (Hard) remix. Natti scored one of the biggest Latin music hits last year on "Sin Pijama" (Without Pajamas) alongside Becky G. She wants to keep that momentum going into 2019.
"More collaborations with women and males so it's going to be fun," Natasha said. "More music, videos and the album," she added before announcing the release date. "The album is going to be like the second week of February." The second week of February could be a Feb. 8 or Feb. 15 drop date, so it's just around the corner. Natti then left us a quick acapella rendition of her single "Me Gusta" (I Like It).