AXS was behind the scenes of the Fuego Music Festival in Miami on Feb. 23 and 24. The weekend-long event brought together the newest and trending talent in Latin music today. AXS was on-hand to talk to some of the artists backstage.
Fuego in English means "fire," and as the event organizers jokingly posted, it does not mean FYRE like the recently failed festival. Fuego Music Festival was put on by MIA Entertainment. Artists from all across Latin America were invited to perform.
Saturday night's biggest headliner was Spanish pop star, Abraham Mateo. Singing and dancing through hits his like "Háblame Bajito" (Speak to My Softly), he owned the stage like a Latin Justin Bieber. To his many fans around the world, he offered them besitos, or little kisses. "It's my second show here in the U.S. and I hope this is the beginning of many more," Mateo said in Spanish.
Venezuelan-born duo Mau y Ricky headlined Sunday night. Colombian artist Manuel Turizo was scheduled to appear, but he later announced that "logistical" issues got in the way. Mau y Ricky turned it out on their own and with plenty of special guests. Argentinian pop star Lali came through for a sexy performance of their song "Sin Querer Queriendo" (Loving Without Love) and former Piso 21 member Llane also popped up for his first live solo performance of Ozuna's "El Farsante" (The Phony). When asked when to expect Mau y Ricky's highly-anticipated debut album, Ricky Montaner told me: "Soon, brother."
Another special guest of Mau y Ricky on Sunday was their frequent collaborator and co-writer Camilo Echeverry, who goes solely by Camilo. The guys bopped around the stage to their rising hit single "Desconocidos" (Unfamiliar Ones). Camilo is starting to become an artist in his own right after penning hits for Becky G, Natti Natasha and Bad Bunny. Mau y Ricky and Camilo performed at the Live Aid benefit concert for Venezuela a few days before on Friday.
"It was a concert that moved me a lot. It was not easy, but so many people are suffering so much. I feel very happy to be part of raising global awareness to show what is happening in Venezuela is a tremendous injustice," Camilo said in Spanish.
Like Mau y Ricky, another artist present at the event on Saturday night from Venezuela was Michelle Sussett, who placed in the top 10 on last year's reboot season of "American Idol." With the Venezuelan crisis going on, she put on a brave face and soared singing Selena's "Techno Cumbia." "It was a beautiful and scary experience at the same time," Sussett said of "Idol." "It was the pre-game before the real game." Now with a platform from the show, she hopes to put out her own music in six months.
The ladies were representing on Saturday night with Colombia's Valentina Storino and Luisa Nicholls also headlining. "I feel so proud because I think this is our moment," Storino said. "It's time that women show to the world what we can do." One of her hits, "Enamorado de Tu Ex" (In Love With Your Ex)" expressed that sentiment well. "I like that song because it shows us as a powerful woman."
Nicholls, whose song "Mi Lista de Exes" (My List of Exes) was picked up as a theme for a Televisa show of the same name, also expressed female empowerment. "It's a very machista [or male-dominated] industry," she said in Spanish. "My mission is to make women understand that we can do all we set out to do." Nicholls hopes to release more songs this year and drop an album soon.
One of Storino's collaborators also performed, Mexican-American artist Jandres. Like Sussett, he also got his start on TV as a contestant on "La Banda" (The Band), which formed Latin pop group CNCO. Jandres still keeps in touch with CNCO members Erick Colón and Christopher Vélez. He feels he can shake up the Latin music scene. "The new music coming out, I feel that much of it is the same," Jandres said in Spanish. "I think a new wave is coming of the versatile artist that includes dancing and singing. I write and produce my music with different producers. [I'm] trying to do a bit of it all." His single "Más Besitos" (More Kisses) with Storino will be released on March 1.
Ecuador was present with guitarist Homero Gallardo. Like Santana, he lets his guitar drive his music. "This guitar is my voice basically," Gallardo said in Spanish. "It's given me the opportunity to travel the world and share the stage with Maluma, Chino y Nacho, Thalía and Alejandro Sanz." He, too, flew to Cúcuta, Colombia for Venezuela's Live Aid concert. Gallardo called the event "spectacular" and a "humanitarian hour" that many people were on-board for. At the Fuego Music Festival, he performed his latest single "Casino" with fellow Ecuadorian singer Maga Córdova.
Argentina's MyA hit the stage as well. The duo's name stands for Maxi Espindola y Agustín Bernasconi. "We're happy to be participating in this festival," Bernasconi said. "It's our first time here in Miami doing a show." The guys recently put out their sixth single "Te Vas" (You Go). They will tour their country later this year and hope to collaborate with CNCO and Piso 21 in the future.