Camilo on Working With Camila Cabello and Alejandro Sanz, and How Fatherhood Inspired His New Album, ‘De Adentro Pa Afuera’

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Countless albums over the years have explored the joys and perils of becoming a parent, and “De Adentro Pa Afuera,” the third album from Colombian singer-songwriter and new dad Camilo is no exception.

“My dad used to tell me ‘Tu vas a estrenar tu corazón cuando seas papá‘ — the moment you become a father is the moment your heart really, truly wakes up,” Camilo Echeverry, known mononymously as Camilo, tells Variety. “And he was right! You really can’t imagine it until you have kid.”

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In addition to the birth of his baby girl earlier this April, the five-time Latin Grammy winner is also celebrating his return to arenas all over the U.S., with shows that are drawing families, teens and even grandparents to his a generation-spanning blend of urbano pop.

“The majority of my best ideas, I truly feel as though they’ve come from some sort of outside source,” Camilo, 28, says of his songwriting. “It isn’t even an illusion of any kind, I can genuinely feel them arriving as if they were arriving ‘de afuera‘ [from the outside] and you can call it whatever you’d like — the universe, God, that creative and guiding energy, love — there is something that is writing a story and as a composer, you can let yourself be fully enveloped in it or not. And if I try to put my ego in the middle of any of it, it doesn’t work.”

While “De Adentro Pa Afuera” (which translates to “from inside out”) is grounded in his signature high vocals and tender lyrics, it also features an impressive list of collaborators. Cuts like the bachata duet, “Ambulancia” with Camila Cabello, mark new territory for both artists while others like “Bebiendo Sola” make subtle use of reggaeton drum beats alongside Myke Towers. And Spanish star Alejandro Sanz appears on the album’s eighth track, a flamenco-inspired ballad titled “NASA.” When the song first dropped as a single, Camilo announced their duet on Instagram, calling it a “dream come true” and posted a video of him showing Sanz a clip of him performing his songs “Corazon Partio” and “Cuando Nadie Me Ve” when he was 13.

The Cabello-featuring “Ambulancia” also came naturally, as Camilo and his wife have long been friends with the singer. “We’ve always talked about working on a song together but at first it was just pure friendship. Then one day when I was home, I just started playing,” he remembers, humming the first few lines of the track. By the time he put pen to paper, he already had Cabello in mind for what he calls “a little bit of a deconstructed bachata – meaning, it’s a signature bachata, and I love it.”

It would be an understatement to say her contribution lived up to his hopes. “I would be in the studio and pause the rest of the production, leaving Camila’s a capella vocal, just to hear her. She’s so talented, her voice is so unique and I’m so grateful and honored that she’s a part of this album.”

The 11-track set also features Argentine rapper-singer Nicki Nicole and Grupo Firme, meaning more than half of the tracks were created with a guest vocalist. When asked what his recipe was for a solid collaboration, Camilo pauses for a few moments before responding.

“I’m trying to find a way to say it without it sounding weird,” he says, “but… the ways to really get to know someone intimately and profoundly are through sexuality and creativity. It’s very difficult to feel connected to someone, for example, sexually, if you don’t feel an [emotional] connection. At the same time, real creativity is difficult if you don’t have an intimate connection with the person you’re creating with. In my case, it’s hard for a collab to feel totally complete if there’s no intimate relationship — whether that be friendship, serious respect for the person or admiration.”

At the time of this interview, Camilo had just played his first North American show at Radio City Music Hall in New York and premiered “Alaska,” his single with Grupo Firme, for the first time. He admits to feeling some nervousness before performing the song: “Will the people know the song yet? Will they like it and sing along, or not?” But his doubts subsided when fans shouted along with the song’s opening words: “Hoy me preguntaron que cuál era mi cerveza favorita...”

Growing up, Camilo remembers regional Mexican music was always playing in his home, and although recording in that style was different, he only calls it a challenge because of how much respect he has for the traditional genre.

“I personally as a Colombian artist and singer-songwriter — it was so important and so significant for me that it was a great song. It is a song that explores a feeling that honestly, I had never explored in my music — well, at least not afuera [outside], always adentro [inside],” he explains. “It was also the excitement of that fan base, it went hand in hand with this tour in the United States, because there is a big Mexican community here, so being able to celebrate with all of them was for me a very important piece of this album.”

Yet there is no question about the album’s primary inspiration. Long before he called any of his potential colleagues to join in on “De Adentro Pa Afuera,” Camilo was rejoicing in the arrival of his daughter Índigo.

“This album was created while we were awaiting the biggest, most important part of my life — my daughter,” he says. “We were locked in at home, La Colmena is what it’s called,” he says referring to the Miami residence where his family rode out the pandemic.

He and actress-singer Evaluna Montaner got married in February 2020 and not soon after, the couple announced they were expecting their first baby via a music video for “Índigo,” the last track on “De Adentro Pa’ Fuera.”

“When we were waiting for Índigo, I felt things I have never felt before, and this album is a testimony to that: It was new love, new insecurities, just so many things that mixed together in my heart and that led to these songs.”

It was during that process that Camilo says he dug deeper than he ever, harnessing the feeling or the “knowingness of ‘there’s something in me that’s wanting to come out.’”

“These songs are beautiful but they only have significance if they go out into the world,” he explains of the album’s title. “Happiness works the same way, the more we share it, the more it grows and multiples and so to have the opportunity to be on tour, and on a tour of this size — especially after a season in which we were all wondering if it would even be possible to meet again in places like this — it means the world.”

Accompanied by his wife and baby, Camilo is currently on the North American leg of his international tour, which has already covered Mexico, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland.

The tour also has Camilo reconnecting with his fans, aptly named La Tribu (the tribe). “Thousands of people, thousands of families singing at the same time, looking into each other’s eyes and smiling at each other, dancing as if we were one,” he says enthusiastically, describing the ambiance of his live shows.

Now, having long outgrown the title of “rising star,” Camilo maintains his focus on his forever goal “which is to write songs, immortalize feelings and put a name to them so that other people can relate to them. I feel like this is the best time of my life, my career and I feel like I’m writing music that’s really honest to who I am.”

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