MM Exclusive Interview: Manuel Turizo
17 Mar 2023
Manuel Turizo is an artist who is currently taking the world by storm. Since bursting onto the scene at the age of 16 with his track, ‘Una Lady Como Tú’, the Colombian artist has only gone from strength to strength. Turizo combines his Latin roots with inspiration from the genres of House, Reggaeton and Afrobeats, making his music free, joyful, and unbounded. With an influx of Latin music breaking through into the mainstream from artists like Bad Bunny and Rosalía, Turizo is very much at the forefront of this movement, racking up over 3 and a half billion streams and cementing himself as one of the biggest artists in the world right now. I caught up with him on his visit to the UK to discuss his early inspirations, dealing with the limelight, and his new album, ‘2000’.
Taking it all the way back to your childhood, what was it like growing up in Colombia and how do you think that has impacted your music?
In every way, bro. I was raised and born in Montería on the coast of the north of Colombia. I feel like it is what all my identity is about. I like to express my culture. Where I come from, what I saw, how I grew up – everything.
And the area you grew up in is close to the Caribbean…
Yes, we have the Caribbean sea only thirty minutes away from Montería. I feel like the Caribbean has an influence in music everywhere, but in Latin music there is a very big influence. It’s in our blood. It’s inside us.
How did you start getting into music?
I knew I liked music from a very young age, since I was a baby because my father loved music, and my mother too. My brother plays music too. When I was very young as a kid, I just tried to do the same thing as my family and try to play music. That was before I found something I really loved to do, which was singing. I was 12 years old when I really decided that I was going to sing and I started writing songs. That’s how I started to take it as something serious in my life.
You started to see success at an early age. How was that for you and did you find it difficult adjusting to a new lifestyle?
I was 16 years old when I started my professional career. Like I said, I started writing songs when I was 12 and when I was 16 I released my first three songs – very different songs. I was in school at the time and one of the songs started going viral on social media. It was everywhere. At that time, I would describe myself as a kid trying to figure out how to be an artist. I knew how to make music and I knew how to write songs, but I didn’t know how the music industry works, you know? It was definitely hard for me, but man, I feel blessed that I am living my dream. This is what I wanted to do. This is what I love to do and for me it’s not work. I’m just enjoying having fun, so it’s very cool for me. It’s a blessing for me.
Who would you say were your biggest influences around this time?
I have many influences, many. I really love different kinds of music and I grew up around Latin cultural music. I love Sin Bandera, Don Omar. There are so many different kinds of music from Salsa, to Merengue, to Reggaeton. In terms of Anglo music, I would say Sean Kingston, Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars.
I had heard you are a huge admirer of Bruno Mars. What is it in particular that you like about him?
Yeah, I’m a big fan. I like that he’s an artist that I feel could do different types of music. That’s something that I like to do as well. On my own I like to try different things each time I’m going to release a song. I don’t like to follow a straight line and do just one kind of music, I like to try different styles and to see how it can offer different things to my fans.
You mentioned earlier about your family being music lovers and you often makes songs with your brother, Julian. What does it feel like to share this experience and success with your family?
Bro! It’s very cool, you know? I started my career with my older brother Julian who is a songwriter and producer too. We started together and we’re still working together. You have someone who really knows what you want musically without having to say anything. We can communicate with our attitude. There is no like, “what are you thinking of?” We grew up with the same influence in music, so I feel like he complements me a lot and I complement him a lot.
It’s your team and it doesn’t matter what you are doing or what your profession is. You start creating your team with people who think like you and who understand your ideas. So yeah, he is and he was the first person on my team.
In terms of your career, where would you say was your biggest turning point?
I feel like I’ve had different points that I can describe like that. The first is when I started, because it’s not common for a child that just put out a song on YouTube, with no hope of anything, to have this much success. I remember trying to put my songs on streaming platforms and using a website that you had to pay nine dollars for to distribute your music. I had to ask my cousin to use his credit card for that! That was the point where I had my first hit.
Another turning point would be after the pandemic, because in the pandemic, I stopped for a year. Just before the pandemic, I had released my first album and I was supposed to release the second one, but the pandemic made me take one year where I didn’t release anything. I feel like that was the second moment of my career. The third, I feel is right now. Right now, after my last song, and what I’ve been working on.
In that year gap, did you take that break because of a lack of inspiration?
It was more because we had lots of problems with the plans. We had to release the album, and the first single for the second album. Man, we had to reschedule the video like six times. As well, the song was made for the spirit of the club, but obviously nobody was going to the clubs. One day I woke up with my mind in a mess. I just called Jay on my team and told him “you know what, let’s do a video with the material you have of me since we started and we change the song.” It became a very personal song, I could say it is the most personal song that I made to date so I released it and thanks to God the reception was great. The people really felt it and it’s a song that talks about everything that was happening in that moment.
You recently dropped a single with Marshmello, what was it like working with him?
It was great, man. It was great. We tried to do something that was very cultural for us in Latin music. ‘El Merengue’ is a very Latin rhythm, but with all the influence of the sounds and the production that Marshmello brings too. We mixed both worlds so people could feel something fresh and something new.
You’ve also worked with artists like Shakira and Will.i.am. What was that like for you?
Very cool, because like, I’m very young and I was a fan before I started working with these huge artists. To feel like they see what you are trying to bring to the people and they believe in your perspective on music? Man, those are blessings. I would love to work with Ed Sheeran or Adele from the UK. I love Adele’s voice.
Your new album, ‘2000’ is about to drop. 2000 is obviously the year you were born, but does the title have any further meaning?
It’s my third album and the most personal album I have ever made. The album shows the music I listen to and what I have been influenced by since I was born. There are many different types of music and I wanted to recreate them in my own style. For example I am not a Merengue singer or a Bachata singer, but it is my perspective on these types of music. I don’t like to just follow what is trending but instead I like to ask, “What are you going to write in the story of music?”
On the album you cover a lot of genres and you can hear the influences of Afrobeats and Reggae to name just a couple. Is that a conscious decision for you?
I like to listen to many different types of music, so you can find like you said, Afrobeats, House, Reggae, Reggaeton, everything. I like to play with the music and do whatever I want with it. I don’t like to focus on just one style.
As you said before this is a personal project for you and you are not afraid to show emotion. Does that come naturally to you?
When you’re enjoying it, when you are vibing with with it, it doesn’t have to be hard or difficult, you know? Sometimes when you are writing a song maybe you make a hook or the verse and you feel like, “Man, I don’t feel I’m doing my best.” You just stop and on another day you continue doing it, but in this album especially I felt like I was very free to do whatever I wanted to do. For me it was like playing a game.
In Colombia and across South America you are a superstar, playing headline shows and selling out stadiums. Do you like the performing aspect of your job?
That is one of the things I enjoy the most in my work because that’s when you can feel the energy of the people. Bro, you can write a song, I don’t know, wherever, even in this room. Then one day you feel the crowd screaming to you the same song. It is something that I couldn’t describe. It’s special. It’s very special. I love to perform.
What do you think is the next stage of your journey?
I don’t know, because I feel like when you try to follow a plan, things are not going to happen exactly the way you think they will. I just want to keep growing. Keep working on what I like, keep giving the people what I feel in the music and just let life like, bring what it has for me, you know? I’m happy, I’m feeling blessed, and I’m doing what I love to do.
Your career at the moment is very much on an upward trajectory. How do you manage to keep yourself grounded?
I feel at some point the person inside of you has to come out. You might look at people and think they are not grounded because they are trying to be someone they are not, you know? You just have to be real and be who you are. It doesn’t matter how successful a person is in life, or if you have a lot of money or you don’t. Everyone is trying to make their dreams come true. I don’t feel like I am more or less than someone else. I keep in mind that I am achieving success in the things I want to do. The people around you is also very important. Your circle has to be close and real, not because of what you are doing in life, but more because of who you are as a person ■
For an artist who has achieved so much at such a young age, Turizo has demonstrated a temperament and maturity beyond his years that will help to maintain his wild success. The Colombian is already rubbing shoulders with the biggest artists in the world, but his new album will only elevate him to hero status in the world of Latin music. Manuel’s third album, ‘2000’, is out now, and he will be looking to make a global impact as he continues to grow and evolve as a musician.