Santiago Cruz is a Colombian singer and songwriter who also loves to play guitar.
In several instances, singer-songwriters pen melodies off of social issues to convey particular messages. What Santiago Cruz does is rather eclectic, because he draws inspiration from his life, memories, dreams and what he wants out of life.
Cruz considers himself “a messenger of the universe.” His tune “Desde Lejos” from A Quien Corresponda serves as a prime example. And the song is up for a Latin GRAMMY Award for Record of the Year.
In a recent interview for Living Out Loud, Cruz spoke about his passion for music, significance of the Latin GRAMMYs, Colombia and hobbies, among other things.
Living out Loud: How did you find your passion for music?
Santiago Cruz: I come from a very musical family on my mother’s side. My grandmother would get us grandkids together and would have us recite things, and make up our won plays, and sing. My mother sings and plays guitar, so I’ve been listening to her since I was still inside her. So all that was very influential for me to pursue music. It’s something I’ve been certain about all my life. I’ve had the good fortune of being able to live out the dreams I’ve had since I was a child, and so I enjoy every minute of all this.
LOL: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
SC: From my life, my memories, my dreams, and from what I want out of life. That’s where everything comes from. I’m really just a messenger of the universe, and when that message travels through me, it draws influence from that.
LOL: What would you say brings you the most satisfaction these days?
SC: On a professional level, I would say being able to make my living doing what I love and the music I always intended to make. My intention was never to do music based just on what was popular. My music was about what I felt like singing about and writing about. And to be able to make a living out of that, and being able to get up on stage and play two hours of my own material, brings me an immense satisfaction.
LOL: What does the Latin GRAMMY mean to you and what’s it like to be nominated?
SC: I feel absolutely grateful to be nominated. I feel very honored. I’m aware of the academy’s importance and I’m aware of how important it is to be recognized in this way. I’m enjoying this moment very much. It’s also great that in this important category that I’ve been nominated for, album of the year, I am 1-of-3 Colombian artists nominated.
LOL: How did you find out about the nomination this year?
SC: Technology these days doesn’t really allow for many surprises. As soon as the announcements were made, my phone was blowing up and messages started pouring into social media outlets, so I found out immediately.
LOL: What message do you wish to give with your song, ‘Desde Lejos’?
SC: It’s a healing song for me; it sets you free. I think pain is a very heavy load to carry, as is holding hateful thoughts and wishes towards someone. So I feel that if instead you wish them well, it liberates your soul. I wrote it and it does it for me every time I sing it. I feel people who come see the shows and sing along also experience that very healing experience. This song is very special to me.
LOL: Producer Nacho Mañó produced the album. How was the chemistry between the two of you and what was the production process like?
SC: This is the second album we work on together. Fortunately, there’s a great professional and personal bond between us, and I consider him part of my family. Musically, I consider him one of the most important producers in Latin music, with a very special taste and aesthetic. The process with him is very enjoyable and I learn a lot. The thing I value most about him as a producer is his love for songs and their message.
LOL: Will you be in Las Vegas for the Latin GRAMMYs?
SC: Of course, I will. I’ll be there.
LOL: Colombia has been producing many, very talented and successful musicians over the years. What do you attribute that to?
SC: If I’m not mistaken, I believe it is because of the tremendous social turmoil our country has endured in the last 60 years, and this creates the need for people to express themselves in different creative ways. We’re also a very musical country. So we use music to either narrate reality or escape reality. I have no doubt that this social turmoil we’ve endured has made this happen.
LOL: What does social media networks mean to you and how do you use them?
SC: To me, it means it allows you to have access to what your fans think, want and expect of you. People can feel closer to you through social media, and you can share your music with whoever you want, wherever you are. It’s just a click away. I truly make an effort to connect through social media. I control all my accounts, I don’t have other people operate them. I feel it’s important to create that personal connection with your fans in the most honest way possible.
LOL: How do you see the future of the music industry? It’s been speculated that hard-copy media will be obsolete as digital media has evolved. What do you think the implications are of all this?
SC: I feel that no matter where technology takes us, a song will always be in demand. So I think as far as art goes, the least important part is how we access it. What’s important is the message you want to share through your work.
LOL: What do you do in your spare time?
SC: I love following soccer, and watching it…It’s something to celebrate. I think now I’m a bit more reasonable in my soccer passion than I was when I was younger. I also love going to the movies as often as possible.
Living Out Loud Staff Writer Edison Millan contributed to this story.