Singer and songwriter Rigu comes from South America, Venezuela to be precise. His adorable lyrics have taken everyone by storm.
His debut album Entre Venas has received praise throughout the U.S.
In an interview for Living Out Loud, Rigu spoke about his passion for music, native Venezuela and plans for the future, among other things.
Living Out Loud: Why did you decide to call yourself Rigu?
Rigu: Well, Rigu is my last name, so I can artistically stay in touch with my roots. In meetings with the record company, Warner Latin Music, we’ve all agreed Rigu would be ideal because it’s easy and short, only four letters, which makes it easier to remember. My full name is Christian Rigu. The surname is of French origin from my paternal grandparents.
LOL: Where does your passion to sing come from?
R: I’ve been doing music ever since I can remember. I’ve been participating in music festivals and playing instruments since I was very little. My day-to-day seemed to always incline to music, even though there were no musicians in my family. I remember that most of the gifts I would ask for would be instruments, and I began to prepare so that now I can be Rigu. I’m playing guitar, and learning how to play the piano. I’m also the producer and arranged all the songs. I’m put my stamp on the record to not only solidify myself as a romantic pop singer, but to differentiate myself from what’s in the market. To identify myself as Rigu.
LOL: Where and how did you debut professionally?
R: Professionally, I started out with a group called Calle Ciega that plays merengue and hip-hop music, and are number 1 in my country. It was a great experience, and the first time I took a big step professionally. Then I was on a reality show called ‘Estrellas de la Musica’ on Venevision, and I got to experiment with acting a little bit as well. After that, I was a member of a group called Proyeto A, a salsa group amongst the best in Venezuela. That gave me the opportunity to sample multiple genres and styles, which helped me mature musically and shaped my identity so I could launch a solo career. It’s every musician’s dream to have a solo career, and it’s way more gratifying when you do it using your own songs and your own style. In the privacy of my room, I would always listen to Ricaro Arjona or Alenjandro Sanz, who were the icons that helped me reach complete clarity about what I wanted to do professionally in the future. I have great respect and admiration for them, since they always manage to stay versatile in their compositions and productions. I focused on doing the same thing, on learning as much as possible, praying to God to give me the strength to take full advantage of this gift he’s given me. So now I’m presenting this album titled Entre Venas, my first solo album.
LOL: When and where did you make the decision to launch a solo career?
R: It happened after I parted ways with Proyecto A, which as I mentioned before, is a salsa group. People say that I left on a whim just to record a pop album, but what they don’t always know, is that pop was already defined in me. I was very clear about wanting to do that. Nevertheless, I gained a tremendous amount of experience with this group. All the music we did was live, in a 15-member orchestral ensemble. I truly gained a great deal of experience with them. But 3 years ago, I decided to part ways with the group, because by then I had finalized what I conceptualized as being Rigu. By then I also had material ready. I began to share it with experts in their music, and what started in Venezuela was finalized here in the U.S. As a matter of fact, I haven’t stepped foot in my country since we started. We began promoting the album here, and the U.S. will be the first market I perform in as Rigu.
LOL: Now that hard copies of album sales have decreased, the rampant piracy problem and the way in which commercialization has been changing over time, are all factors that make record companies not want to take risks on new talent. Were you worried about all that when you launched your solo career? Did you have any hurdles in making this happen?
R: At first I had decided to record the album without being signed. It was a big risk on my part, and I took it because I was trusting in God that things would turn out well. I know these days, out of every 20 bands/groups, record companies usually only sign one. So I just presented my material to the record company, which is known to primarily sign singer/songwriters. They thought it was interesting and was good lyrically, so they made an offer. As far as album sales, I feel all of us artists are feeling those effects. It’s not just music that’s changed, life in general has also changed. Technology has advanced significantly, and so digital media is destroying print. It’s just a transformation we’re all experiencing as human beings in terms of technology, so we just have to enjoy the album for what it is and sell it. Digital is the way to go as far as marketing and promoting. The most important thing is that the music plays on, because as long as it’s playing, it will be life.
LOL: Talk to us about the album’s concept and who you collaborated with?
R: The album’s concept is completely mine. In fact, the album is titled Entre Venas, because I feel that in each lyric I wrote, I left my mark through a chronology of love and loss. I called it Entre Venas because it felt as if my veins were putting word to paper. The collaborations I had, took place after promotion for the album started. For the first single, ‘Contigo Quiero Estar,’ I worked with Gocho and honestly, he helped me reach new heights. We made an urban version of the song. As you know, ballads can only go so far, but with that change in diversity of all the sounds we have, allowed me to reach places I hadn’t before. In the second single, which is titled ‘Y Es Que La Quiero,’ and is the one we’re currently promoting, I had the opportunity to work with Toby Love, which I also feel will help open doors for me in the bachata market. My original song was meant to be a bachata/pop fusion, but I made a great remix with Toby, whom I thank for wanting to work with me even though I’m a new artist. We made a great connection. The album was recorded in Miami and Venezuela. It was remixed in Madrid, in the same studios where David Bisbal and Rosario record their mixes. In other words, it’s a great studio and that’s also where they mastered the album.
LOL: Do you have any rituals when composing? What’s your formula?
R: There must always be a need to write something. My way of doing it is in complete silence. Usually around 3 a.m. You all must think I’m crazy (laughs), but I place my guitar next to my bed, grab pen and paper, and most importantly, make sure I have a voice recorder nearby – inspiration comes in an instant and usually never repeats itself. So first I record my idea, because as a composer, I do the lyrics and music simultaneously. I always have the recorder or my phone on me so I don’t miss on an idea that won’t ever return. So you’ll see me at 3 a.m., singing the lyrics that come to me and recording them – that’s what ultimately leads to a song. Then the next day, I’ll sit down and try to give it form – but it’s at 3 a.m. when I formulate a story from beginning to end that eventually becomes a song.
LOL: What do you like to write about?
R: I love writing about love loss. Let’s say it’s the strong part of this very diverse subject which is love, and that’s where I draw my inspiration. I have written about things like a tear, but it’s not just about romantic love. It can be love for a child, a family, a relative, etc. That’s why I like to reflect when that hurt happens, because maybe we miss or need someone.
LOL: Are you doing performances as part of your promotional tour?
R: I just got back from Puerto Rico, where I had a promotional tour and several performances, where I played with my band, which by the way I’ve fully assembled. We’re playing and presenting the new project. I’ve just wrapped up shooting my second video in Mexico, specifically in Cancun at Playa Blanca, for the song, ‘Y Es Que La Quiero’ directed by Ricardo Moreno, who’s a Mexican producer and video director. I think the next step is to get my name known, so people know who I am and that I wrote that song they’re listening to. I want to make it clear that Rigu is a new singer/songwriter and has something new to offer. I’ve had performances but for now, the aim is to make myself known.
LOL: When will you start promoting your album in Latin America?
R: Mexico, for example, would be a great opportunity. It’s a very important platform. In fact, Warner Latin Music in Mexico has been making some propositions, and hopefully they come to fruition. If all goes well, we’ll be doing a promotion tour through Mexico by February . The thing is, this is a very long process and we have to take it step by step. We released and promoted in the U.S., and starting in January , we’ll start traveling all over Latin America, starting in Bolivia and then through Ecuador, Colombia, Guatemala, among others. The important thing is, whatever we decide to do, we have to do it with a strong foot forward to maximize our success. I feel in about 3 years, my career will have taken off and become solidified.
LOL: How important is social media to you as an artist?
R: I have to be honest with you, ever since we began working on this album about 8 months ago, I’ve just started to use them. I would spend time playing sports when I wasn’t working on my music. However, I do feel they’re a very important tool to make yourself known and to make it possible for your fans to stay in touch with you. It allows fans to be able to keep up with your day-to-day life as an artist, and also your personal life. You can even make friends through it. When the record company told me I had to make a Twitter account, I had just become familiar with it but it had already been very popular for a long time. But I love managing my social media now. It becomes a bit of an obsession to the point where you find yourself on all of them at once. It all has been quite interesting.
LOL: Are you a fan of any sports?
R: Well, I used to practice equestrian sports, but it’s something that requires a lot of discipline, and with all the traveling, there is no time to keep it up. You can have a horrible accident by falling off your horse, and chances of that increase when you don’t keep up with your training. I’ve opted to distance myself from sports, but I do hit the gym rigorously and play racquetball. I also go running every morning. I feel it’s helped me have a fuller satisfaction out of life. Staying healthy and eating right are very important in staying healthy.
LOL: Are you a fan of fashion? How do you like to dress?
R: I always like to show who I am with clothing. I also like being comfortable. I think this style I’ve portrayed as Rigu is simple, and comfortable. I don’t like wearing something just because people like it or it’s in fashion. I always wear what I like to wear, so people see me for who I really am. That transcends a lot, and I also love colors and wear a lot. If you see pictures of me you’ll notice I’ve used every single color ever made and then some (laughs).
LOL: Where do you live? Your family?
R: My family is in Venezuela, and I live in West Palm Beach, Fla. Ever since I signed with the label, I moved there. The label is in Miami and I live about an hour away. It’s a calm city, and I decided to make the move right away because the release was going to be here in the U.S., imagine having to go back and forth. It was hard enough without having to travel so much. But God willing, we’ll start promoting back home by mid next year.
LOL: Speaking of Venezuela, what do you think about the political unrest? Has it affected you or your family?
R: What affects Venezuelans the most is that there is no understanding between both sides. I think all Venezuelans should work towards a common ideal, about the same country. The important thing is that the country surges and moves forward. In the end, we’re all brothers. There should always be understanding and peace. This happens in every country, with elections and political parties and oppositions. My family agrees that what Venezuelans want is to be united.
LOL: Halloween is coming up. How do you celebrate?
R: I honestly don’t celebrate that. I know it’s a big part of culture here but I’m deeply religious. I respect other festivities and holidays but as a Christian, I cannot celebrate something I consider to be bad.
LOL: Will we see you acting in the near future?
R: I have had some propositions. It seems as every time I visit with Telemundo or Univision, rumors start. I hope so. I feel today’s artist has to be as versatile as possible, and if the opportunity comes up to do a soap or a show, I’m ready and willing to dive in.