Reggaeton singer Tony Dize (Pina Records)
At 32 years of age, reggaeton artist Tony Dize has become one of the most beloved acts throughout the world. And that’s especially true here in the city of Los Angeles, where the U.S.-born, Puerto Rico raised star carries a massive load of fanatics and popularity.
Born Tony Feliciano Rivera in Springfield, MA, in 1982, Tony Dize managed to enter the music industry in 2003. Over the years, he’s evolved just as well as this urban genre has: open-minded while adapting to change.
To date, the “El Doctorado” and “Quizas” singer (currently signed to Pina Records) has released three studio albums, collaborated with almost everyone in his field and launched many tours worldwide. Right now his most recent release, dubbed La Melodía De La Calle: 3rd Season, is reaching great levels of success in the majority of the music charts.
La Melodía De La Calle: 3rd Season, now available, contains 17 tunes, including infectious tracks in the likes of “Ruleta Rusa” and “Duele el Amor,” amongst others.
In an exclusive interview with Living Out Loud, the humble and rather charismatic Tony Dize discusses his career, artistic evolution, latest album, songwriting, Los Angeles, social media and much more.
Living Out Loud: How have you evolved as an artist over the years?
Tony Dize: I believe in my music like it’s my church. I started producing with many artists that are just as dedicated as me. I’ve been working with Wisin & Yandel, Daddy Yankee, Don Omar. Today I can be on the same stage as them, and I see that as a gift from God. I just keep on with the same spirit…just producing music. I have to delve into different rhythms…I can’t stay with the same rhythm for more than 2 hours. I like to do songs for everybody in my house.
LOL: What were your musical influences growing up?
TD: I would say Frankie Ruiz, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Jerry Rivera. Also, I like to hear Sean Paul and the energy he has on the stage. I also listen to Don Omar and Daddy Yankee, and when I was looking for opportunities in their studios, and they hear me, they hear my “street melody.” I was motivated, and now I have my third album coming out, and it’s a blessing.
LOL: Would you classify your studio albums as a series?
TD: Well, this third album, La Melodía De La Calle: 3rd Season, is completely universal. It has so much different elements from the others, and it’s so much more complete than the others, that I think it’s the biggest album in urban music. With every single song, we have been really concentrating on everything – the lyrics, the music. It’s 10 songs from me, seven of those I did with friends like Nicky Jam, Farruko, Ñengo Flow & Lobo, Yandel, and singer turned actor Don Omar will be in the album too. It’s very complete, and it’s a long time coming that an album like this hits the streets.
LOL: What can you tell us about the lyrics for the song, “Ruleta Rusa”?
TD: Those lyrics are from Wise “The Gold Pen”, the same artist who wrote “El Doctorado”; he also wrote “Hoy Lo Siento.” It has that passion for those situations in life…it also has a rhythm that brings it to life. Sometimes people hear lyrics and get so involved with the song…but that merengue rhythm keeps people happy, and keeps them jumping around. So we made that formula and that was the result. We made it happen.
LOL: What about “Duele el Amor”?
TD: It has the same rhythm, but with some reggaeton, and lyrics for the girls. It deals with situations like when you’re in love with someone else, and you just want to keep living your life. A lot of people don’t know how to deal with all of that, so they use these songs. I just want to help everyone. My brother Lobo wrote that song. We’ve been working together for 10 years now, and people can relate to all that. It’s beautiful, and when people are with you, they communicate and respond to you.
LOL: Do you think that personal experiences are pertinent when writing songs?
TD: Yeah. It makes the project look real. It’s the feeling of somebody who is really living and suffering, and just want to express that. People like that. My trademark is that my music is the melody of the streets. People laugh, suffer, fall in love – that describes life. I make sure that everybody has fun. You hear romantic songs, but you can also get up and dance.
LOL: What does the city of L.A. mean to you?
TD: It’s like my house. There are a lot of Latin people there, and they were all singing my music when I went there. We want to make it happen again. I like to always do better. I always like to improve and take everything to another level.
LOL: What are some of the things you like about L.A.?
TD: It has a good vibe. The weather and the people are great. It’s a great networking base because so many people are working over there. I developed my brand there, and it gives me a lot of nostalgia, reminds me of where I started.
LOL: What’s your take on social media?
TD: Today, it’s THE newspaper (laughs).
When you get up in the morning, you don’t go out and get the newspaper anymore…you go on Twitter and Instagram. That’s how people know what’s going on in the world. It’s like the right hand. You have to let people know what you’re doing. It’s like having your followers living with you. You have them closer, so it’s important to answer questions worldwide. It’s very important. I always take pictures, even when I’m with my kids at the fair. I share everything, because without the people, I’m nobody. I understand that.
LOL: How would you categorize the evolution of reggaeton since the 1990s?
TD: The way I can tell we’ve been around for a long time, is that we’ve changed how we sing. The way we used to sing…it used to be very detrimental to women. There was no respect for women. I started around the time my kid was born, around 2003, and I started respecting the women who bring us into this world. Whenever I record something, my kids are hearing me. I’m raising them, and it’s a big responsibility. We’ve been growing, and I like the competition. But also the ego is gone. Now, we all work together, and that’s what makes our shows sell out. Two minds work better than one.
LOL: What’s your take on the technological advances that the industry has gone through?
TD: It’s incredible. It’s something that is unprecedented. Before we couldn’t communicate this fast. You can make your own studio in your house now, and share your work with the world. It makes everything go fast. Every time you come out with a single, you also need to have an entire album ready. It’s not about getting people to buy your album…they’ve already downloaded it. We do our best to stay up to date, and communicate with the people.
LOL: You have collaborated with many artists throughout your career. Is there any artist in particular with whom you’d like to work with?
TD: I would like to work with Sean Paul. I’m a fan. I met him at Madison Square Garden, and we took pictures and talked. I hope I have the opportunity to make music with him.
LOL: Do you have a stylist or do you dress yourself?
TD: I have good people [at Pina Records] with me, who manage the Tony Dize image onstage. Without my team, my songs don’t reach the streets. That’s what makes the difference – with a team, you get ahead faster.
LOL: What advice can you give the youth out there who might one day want to follow in your footsteps?
TD: The time you spend achieving anything is not important. It’s all about the final result. You have to believe in your imagination. It will help you make that a reality. You must have a lot of faith in yourself, and never stop.
LOL: Did you ever see yourself doing anything other than music?
TD: If I was not a singer, I would be a physical education coach. I love being with my kids, playing basketball and taking my girls to ballet. I would be in nature, living with the trees. That would be my style. I thank God I have this opportunity to do music.