CNCO’s quick Filipino ex­pe­ri­ence

Even the on­com­ing typhoon Om­pong (Mangkhut) couldn’t dampen the spir­its of fans as Latin boy band CNCO vis­ited Cebu Fri­day, Septem­ber 14 for their Asian Promo Tour.

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The group, who won Univi­sion’s mu­si­cal com­pe­ti­tion “La Banda” – which was ex­ec­u­tive-pro­duced by Si­mon Cow­ell’s SYCO En­ter­tain­ment, Ricky Martin, Univisión Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Inc. and Haim Sa­ban’s Sa­ban Brands – flew into town to meet Ce­buano CNCO fans at the North­wing Atrium of SM City Cebu. They per­formed hits like “Hey DJ,” “Mamita,” “Se Vuelve Loca” and “Reg­gae­ton Liento.”

Formed in 2016, CNCO is made up of five young lads from dif­fer­ent coun­tries: Christo­pher Velez from Ecuador, Erick Brian Colon of Cuba, Joel Pi­mentel of Mex­ico, Richard Ca­ma­cho of Do­mini­can Repub­lic and Zab­diel De Je­sus of Puerto Rico. They are among Latin mu­sic’s brightest stars.

Win­ning a five-year record­ing con­tract with Sony Mu­sic, the group was able to tour with Ricky Martin and has man­aged to be­come a Latin Grammy-nom­i­nated pop phe­nom­e­non. Their first al­bum “Primera Cita” quickly be­came a global suc­cess and was a cer­ti­fied Diamond, Plat­inum, and Gold in the United States, Latin Amer­ica and Europe.

Through­out their two years, CNCO took home six Latin Amer­i­can Mu­sic Awards, five Premios Ju­ven­tud, three Premios Tu Mundo, three Latin Bill­board Awards, three Premio Lo Nue­stro Awards, one Kids Choice Award, one Teen Choice Award and one iHeartRa­dio Mu­sic Award.

Just last year, the group wrapped up 40 con­certs in 15 coun­tries, and joined Latin mu­si­cal icons En­rique Igle­sias and Pit­bull for their North Amer­i­can tour in the US and Canada. CNCO has also re­leased their sec­ond al­bum “CNCO” in April this year.

Com­ing straight from Ja­pan, CNCO will also be vis­it­ing Asian coun­tries like Malaysia and In­done­sia af­ter their trip to the Philip­pines where they’ve had a taste of Filipino fast food, street food, and met with Filipino CNCOwn­ers (fans).

Christo­pher, Richard, Zab­diel, Joel, and Erick Brian sat down with Cebu press in­side the San­ti­ago room of Radis­son Blu Cebu on Fri­day af­ter­noon, giv­ing us the low­down on their first al­beit quick Filipino ex­pe­ri­ence, how they got along af­ter the com­pe­ti­tion, their big­gest in­flu­ences, their se­cret tal­ents, and their wish for Latin mu­sic.

How has Cebu been? Did you get to look around?

Richard: No not yet. But we want to. We ar­rived this morn­ing but we can see from the rooms. It [the view]

looks very nice. The ocean looks su­per nice. We want to go to the beaches and stuff. It would be su­per dope. We are right now in an Asian promo tour. We were just in Ja­pan. This is our first time in the Philip­pines and then we’ll go to Malaysia and then In­done­sia.

Christo­pher: [In Manila] We tried the best fast food. It’s amaz­ing hon­estly. You guys put spaghetti in ev­ery­thing. I like it a lot. We tried the squid ball. It was re­ally good.

Since you guys came from a com­pe­ti­tion, how was the tran­si­tion from be­ing com­peti­tors to band­mates for the past two years?

Erick Brian: It’s in­cred­i­ble. I think it’s a pretty cool ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause we never met be­fore “La Banda.” It was weird. We got to know each other in the whole process of “La Banda.” But now af­ter that, I think we have a re­ally good con­nec­tion. We get along a lot, and al­ways with re­spect and com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Richard: Some of us didn’t like each other at first be­cause we never re­ally got to talk. Say, for me and Joel, it was hard to talk in Span­ish. We weren’t used to talk­ing in Span­ish so we would never re­ally talk with no­body. But then af­ter we made it to the show, we all started talk­ing. We all started talk­ing more and we started get­ting along and af­ter that it was su­per nice. What fla­vor does each mem­ber bring to the ta­ble? Erick Brian: I think I put the trop­i­cal thing about

Cuba.

Richard: All of us, we all have a dif­fer­ent kind of genre that we love to lis­ten to. And the artists we ad­mire are all dif­fer­ent, dif­fer­ent gen­res, with dif­fer­ent lan­guages. For me at least, I grew with R&B and a lot of Do­mini­can bachatas… stuff like that. I feel like I can add that to the group.

Zab­diel: I think I add the ro­man­tic thing, maybe. I like soul mu­sic, very ro­man­tic stuff. I think I have that fla­vor, su­per ro­man­tic.

Chris: Me too, I re­ally like bal­lads a lot but I re­ally like rock mu­sic too. And I’ve been lis­ten­ing to a lot of reg­gae­ton since I was a kid. So I have those to fla­vors.

Joel: I’m Mex­i­can, I grew up in the States. I think I can add that Amer­i­can sound to the songs.

Who is CNCO’s big­gest in­flu­ence? Richard: I feel like Ricky [Martin] is the big­gest in­flu­ence on us since he was our men­tor for a while. We learned so much from him. He was the one who took us on tour for the first time. It was in four coun­tries and we were just su­per ex­cited and ner­vous be­cause didn’t know how the peo­ple were go­ing to ac­cept us since we had just started. And he’s do­ing mas­sive shows with like 45,000 peo­ple and we didn’t know how to even act on stage. It was su­per cool. We saw him on stage, he did a full twohour show—like en­ergy, up. You’d never see a down­fall on the show. For us it was just su­per mind-blow­ing how a per­son with such a long tra­jec­tory in the in­dus­try could keep up a great show. And also out­side the stage be su­per hum­ble, su­per grounded, and very calm. I feel like that in­spired us to keep go­ing and to re­ally achieve what we want.

What have you guys learned from Ricky from your time with him?

Zab­diel: He al­ways gives us a lot of ad­vice. One, I re­mem­ber is to al­ways be hum­ble, keep your feet on the ground. And al­ways try to rest as much as you can. We’re al­ways learn­ing about him. Not only when he talks but also when you see him as a per­son—he’s a su­per hum­ble, spir­i­tual guy. I think that makes a big dif­fer­ence.

Richard: It gives us a lot to learn and ad­mire.

To be able to see him out­side the stage, so hum­ble, so grounded af­ter all th­ese things he’s gone through and achieved. It’s a big les­son to learn and to see and take into con­sid­er­a­tion.

For new fans, what CNCO song would you rec­om­mend for them to dis­cover you and learn more about you?

Richard: “Reg­gae­ton Lento” – that was the song that took us here and opened a lot of doors to a lot of places. I feel like that’s our mark. If you know CNCO, you know “Re­gaet­ton Lento.” And that’s the first song that they should be in­tro­duced to. And then our new sin­gle “Se Vuelve Loca.” It’s just us danc­ing, just us. No other peo­ple, girls, no noth­ing. It’s very per­sonal.

Christo­pher: And af­ter those two songs, the whole

al­bum. Who do you guys want to col­lab­o­rate with? Richard: We want to col­lab­o­rate with ev­ery­body. Chris Brown, Bruno Mars, Daddy Yan­kee, J Balvin.

Zab­diel: Hope­fully we could do a col­lab­o­ra­tion with artists from the Philip­pines. That could be amaz­ing.

Be­ing a band, do you guys have a leader? How do you make de­ci­sions?

Richard: I think all of us, we’re all like fluid. We try to come to­gether to just come to one con­clu­sion. We’re five dif­fer­ent minds, five dif­fer­ent cul­tures. So some­body has a dif­fer­ent idea… so why not just take all of those ideas and make a great one. So it’s su­per cool.

Do you guys think that you could ven­ture into some­thing dif­fer­ent aside from mu­sic? Act­ing, maybe?

Christo­pher: Of course. That’s the goal, we plan hope­fully to do a lot of things… Movies, doc­u­men­taries, tour­ing around the world, win­ning Gram­mys. That’s our goal and we try to do our best.

For the past two years, was the life of a star ev­ery­thing you thought it would be?

Richard: It’s harder than we thought. We thought it was just like get­ting on stage, per­form­ing, singing here and there. But there’s so much be­hind it. There’s so much in­ter­views, so much trav­el­ling, so much hours of not sleep­ing. It’s a lot of things we didn’t ex­pect but

we love it, to be hon­est. It’s cool. It’s not as easy as we thought. It’s ac­tu­ally work as well apart from the fun. It gives us a lot to look for­ward to and learn from. It’s su­per cool.

As celebri­ties, do you guys feel like you have to act a cer­tain way to keep up with a sort of image?

Richard: For us, I feel like that’s what’s spe­cial about CNCO. We’re very gen­uine wher­ever we go. We don’t try to act like some­one else. We don’t try to put up a face. We are how we are off cam­era, on cam­era. I feel like that’s what the fans love about us. And that’s what we want to kind of keep. Even be­tween each other, when any of us is act­ing kind of stupid, we’re like hey come back or smack them in the head or some­thing. We’re al­ways on top of that. And our team also, our team is very hum­ble, they keep us grounded. Our fam­ily as well, when they see some­thing they don’t like they hit us and they’re like ‘Oh I didn’t like how you said this…’ So it helped us. And we read the com­ments as well. We love to read the good and the bad, so we take the bad to build up from. How do you guys deal with stress and sched­ules? Zab­diel: On our free time, we like to do fun stuff. We al­ways play fut­boli­tos. Foos­ball. Go kart, bowl­ing, pool. And we al­ways try to take ev­ery­thing step by step. What is CNCO’s dream for Latin mu­sic? Richard: I think our dream for Latin mu­sic is to take it around the world. Right now, Latin mu­sic is trend­ing as you can see, be­cause of ‘Des­pac­ito,’ be­cause of J Balvin and so much Latin artists tak­ing it global. I think for us is to spread that Latin cul­ture, that fla­vor. And also to be an ex­am­ple to the youth that we were just like them—we were just in school, work­ing. And be­cause of one dream, be­cause of mu­sic, we all get to­gether. We’re dif­fer­ent coun­tries, dif­fer­ent cul­tures, so much cul­tures com­ing to­gether for one thing. We got to­gether for our dream, we’re trav­el­ling to­gether and just show­ing ev­ery­body. That’s what we want to ac­com­plish, to show them that they can re­ally achieve their dreams if they go for it, work for it, and put a lot of ded­i­ca­tion and hard work into it.

By KARLA RULE Photo by JOY TORREJOS

Latin boy band CNCO

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