Q&A with Rising Singer-Songwriter De La Torre

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De La Torre, 20, is a Cuban-American music artist residing in Los Angeles.

De La Torre, 20, is a Cuban-American music artist residing in Los Angeles.

Anthony De La Torre just turned 20 years old, and he already is creating much noise within the music industry.

He recently released a music video for the Christmas song “Ven A Mi Casa Esta Navidad.”

In an interview for Living Out Loud, De La Torre (his stage name) discussed his move from Ohio to California, musical influences, passion for music, growth over the years and much more.

Living Out Loud: What prompted your move to LA?
De La Torre: Well we started with the YouTube videos which are no longer up; we took them down because my manager wanted to re-create the image. At the time, I had been doing covers of other artists, and people that they didn’t want me to be related to, so we took them all down. I started doing covers of these songs, but in Spanish. So I did songs by One Direction, Justin Bieber, Drake and whatnot. So from there, my uncle, who had worked with Desmond Child previously, sent him my YouTube videos. Desmond is also Cuban, so we had that connection. I’m Cuban-American. But, I wanted to sing in Spanish because my grandfather was an opera singer, and my older brother was also a signer, so it served as inspiration for me. It just seemed like the route to take. Then from there, through Desmond, I met Debbie Ohanian; she’s my other manager and lives out here. So they moved me out here and convinced me to go the Latin route.

LOL: So would you say your musical influences were mostly in the family? What kind of music would you listen to?
DLT: Yeah. I grew up listening to everything. I was kind of ‘bipolar’ with what I would listen to. One week, I would listen to Frank Sinatra, and then the next week I would only listen to Lil’ Wayne, you know? I was all over the place. My dad also introduced me to lots of different things.

LOL: Ohio is not a very common place for a Cuban family to reside in. How did that come about?
DLT: That happened because my dad wanted to study psychology at Bowling Green University. We moved there for that, and I was born in Ohio. We moved there from Florida.

LOL: Where did your passion for music originate?
DLT: It’s hard to find genuine things nowadays. Everything is so cookie-cutter and mass-produced, and so it’s hard to find something you can really connect with. I really feel I need to be connected to everything that I’m doing. At the end of the day, music is just music. But, if you can create a connection with people through it, then you’ve actually done something special. That’s my goal – to connect with people and be real.

LOL: What’s your favorite instrument?
DLT: The drums because when I was in high school, and I had a bad day, (which would be often) I would just come home and destroy the drums. It was a wonderful stress reliever.

LOL: How has your move to LA been thus far? What do you like the most about the city?
DLT: I like the fact that being weird is accepted. Everybody is kind of goofy here, in a great way, and I really appreciate that. I feel there is a lot less judgment here. It’s easier to be who you really are here.

LOL: What do you like to do here? What are some of your hobbies?
DLT: Well, working on music has been pretty much everything that I’ve done. I like hiking in Griffith Park.

LOL: What are you currently working on right now and how did it come about?
DLT: A Christmas project. Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year for me. My family takes Christmas as a sacred time of the year and we always get together. I was blessed to have a family that I really love a lot and can connect with. My siblings are like my best friends, so when we get together, it’s a wonderful time. Christmas is special to me, for sure.

LOL: Who would you like to collaborate with musically?
DLT: There are so many people I can name that I would love to work with. At the end of the day, I’ll be happy to work with anyone who loves what they do. That’s the most important thing.

LOL: What is your biggest satisfaction right now?
DLT: Being able to create music that you truly enjoy, is the best thing as an artist, I think. It’s not something you make just because you know it will sell well, but actually something you can connect with.

LOL: Where do you get your inspiration?
DLT: Pretty much from anything. For me, I’ve experienced two kinds of songwriting. One, is it’s 2 a.m., in the middle of the night, and you have this thought that you must write down and won’t let you go to bed. The second one, it’s a deadline and you have to write something by 7 o’clock. You might think it’s crap, but you can still come up with good stuff like that.

LOL: Were you asked to cover specific Drake songs or did you choose them, such as in “Hold On We’re Going Home”?
DLT: I chose the song. It makes you walk different and all that. I wanted to cover it so I called up a friend, and we wrote some Spanish lyrics. But yea, I love that song.

LOL: Do you have other songs in mind that you want to cover?
DLT: Right now, I don’t. I don’t have anything in mind that I would want to cover.

LOL: What’s your take on the effect technology is having on the music industry? What do you think about music going completely digital?
DLT: The way it’s changing is crazy. The industry is different now than it was 2 years ago even, you know? You have to go with the flow, and you have to change with it. You have to change your approach to everything. It’s going to happen, it’s inevitable. The only thing that is constant is change. I think it makes it more difficult to make money as an artist, but if you enjoy what you’re doing and the people around you, then you keep doing it.

LOL: Describe a week in your life.
DLT: I guess it depends on what week we’re talking about (laughs). A typical day in my life, I will try to Skype with my mom. Maybe I’ll go to a voice lesson, or work on a song, or do some writing. I do a lot of studying. I didn’t speak Spanish at all when I came out here. Now I speak it decently. It’s interesting because now that I’m not in school, I care about studying.

LOL: Describe your musical style.
DLT: Well, I’ve worked with several producers. I’ve worked with some guys from Canada, and we did awesome house music…The thing I did today was a bachata song. As far as the style goes, it’s all over the place. Some people are against that, but I like so many different styles of music, so it’s hard for me to pick a style. My music will just keep evolving and changing with the times.

LOL: How have you grown as an artist over the years?
DLT: That’s a very difficult question to answer. That’s a question for someone who isn’t me to answer. My response will be much more biased. I would say I’ve become much more mature. Over the past year I feel I’m a much better person. I can see ways that I’ve grown up since I’ve left home, for sure. But I can also see that I have a lot of growing up to do as an artist for sure. I’m constantly surrounded by people who are extremely talented, so there’s definitely growth happening, especially in the way that I sing. Also, the music. Things that I would select a year ago would be much more tacky than what I would choose now.

LOL: What is one thing that you would change from the music scene?
DLT: I think I would change the way we see singers. I wish we wouldn’t see them as gods. I just feel people look up to these celebrities and they compare themselves to this image that is not real. I like things that are a little bit more real, and more uniting than separating. We’re all sweet, I don’t know how else to put it. Working with, and getting to meet all these famous people; they’re just human beings. We’re all the same.

LOL: What’s the most underrated thing in your profession?
DLT: The responsibility that artists have, because you have so many people looking up to you.

LOL: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
DLT: Hopefully, less naïve and wiser, and more at peace – continuing to make music.

LOL: What’s your take on the importance of fashion?
DLT: Normally, when I go to these events, I feel like I have no swag whatsoever. Everyone else there looks amazing. I like simple stuff. I don’t wear any chains or anything. I went to a Telemundo awards show, and I wore chucks and a crazy sports jacket.

LOL: How is your relationship with your manager Debbie Ohanian? Is she a mentor?
DLT: Absolutely. She’s an incredible woman. She had her own business when she was 13. She’s had her own clothing store and a club in Miami. She also introduced Ricky Martin to Desmond and that’s how ‘La Vida Loca’ started. She’s just an incredible entrepreneur, and a really great woman. We’re together pretty much 24/7 and we’ve yet to get sick of each other.

LOL: What advice would you have for the youth out there who might want to follow in your footsteps?
DLT: It’s important to remember that even those who are successful are also struggling and having doubts. With these people, there is never a point where they say, ‘I’ve made it!’ I feel if you really want to do this, make sure you are really in love with music. There’s a lot of hype, but at the end of the day it’s a lot of crap. Make sure that you love it. If you love it, and continue to pursue it, then you’ll be happy.

LOL: What’s the top thing you want people to know about you right now?
DLT: Just that I’m a 20 year-old kid, that’s just trying to be as genuine as possible. I’m jus trying to grow and become a better person.

Marvin Vasquez is a Senior Staff Reporter for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle, entertainment and sports. Follow him on Twitter: @geo_la
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