Azzam Alkadhi speaks to pop star Manuel Medrano about the healing power of his music, his upcoming gig and love at first sight
Towering over me as I walk into the interview room, Manuel Medrano is a veritable giant of a man. His affable demeanour at once sets the relaxed tone in the room as we begin to discuss his impressively quick climb to fame.
The Cartagena-born pop star, who is currently promoting his latest single, ‘Una y Otra Vez’, released his first song in 2014 before being signed by Warner Music. His subsequent single, ‘Bajo el Agua’, released in mid-2015, has already hit nearly 29 million views on YouTube.
Medrano, who opened for Ed Sheeran at his Bogotá concert in April 2015, explains to me what he believes is behind this rapid success: “I give the credit to my followers […] as well as to the honesty in my songs. All the songs I write are autobiographical, about things that I have lived through and they have all been written about people who have been a part of my life, so I think my fans can identify with that.”
And his latest song is no different. With a twinkle in his eye, he explains: “I met a girl and I really liked her from the first moment […] I don’t know if it has happened to you, you see a girl that you’ve never seen before and you say to yourself ‘wow, she’s the one, I want to be with her forever’.”
Cheesy, perhaps, but it certainly seems to strike a chord with his fans. His music, best described as romantic pop balladry, might not be to everyone’s taste, but Medrano is keen to appeal to a wide range of people.
He explains: “I always write songs with a purpose […] I consider whether my whole family will like the music. I think that this helps me to make music for every audience, young and old, and that’s the public that I have. There are young kids who send me videos humming along to my songs, as well as elderly people who I bump into on the street who like my music.”
He also has a higher purpose, as he tells me: “This might sound funny but I want to make music that heals those wounds in your heart. And this has happened – the feedback I get from people on social media suggests that people get over personal or health problems thanks to my songs and that’s beautiful, really gratifying.”
It’s a hefty claim, Manuel, but whatever makes you happy.
Before heading off to play four shows in Mexico, Medrano has a date with Bogotanos at the Royal Center on May 5, which he promises will be a corker.
“We are preparing lots of surprises”, he tells me, although is annoyingly coy when I push him for further details: “You have to go, I can’t tell you what they are in advance, but I can say that there are some big surprises.”
Thinking about many of our readers (as I so often do), I ask whether he thinks his music can cross language barriers: “When I was a kid I really liked Michael Jackson’s music. I didn’t have a clue what he was saying but that was the power of the music. It’s happened with me and people from other countries […] Maybe it’s the tone of my voice or the melodies. I think we can do great things, regardless of language.”
Let’s hope this is the case, as Medrano will shortly be visiting San Francisco and Miami – where he has been invited to give a showcase as a Latin American artist in the run up to the Billboard Awards.
Medrano’s relatively quick rise to fame has given him a taste for more, and you’ll no doubt be hearing plenty about him in the months to come, as he tells me: “I want to take my music to more people and other countries. I also want to record videos for all my songs. I’m still writing songs too. There’s a lot to come.”
And with that we say our goodbyes.
The costeño Goliath stoops in an almost Herculean fashion to kiss our photographer on the cheek, saying ‘chau, hermosa’ with a smile and the customary, confident charm of a man whose songs seem all to be about love and heartbreak.
And what about me, eh?
Medrano will be playing at the Royal Center, Carrera 13 #66-80 on May 5. Tickets are available on www.atrapalo.com.co, starting at $65,000.