EXCLUSIVE: The Latino Behind 'Born This Way' on Lady Gaga's Español: "She Sings It As Well As She Speaks It."

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The biggest pop star in the world drops her eagerly anticipated sophomore album today, Born This Way, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that she is embracing Latinos on it. But we can’t just credit Lady Gaga—we have to give props to Fernando Garibay, the genius songwriter and producer who oversaw the Mother Monster’s album as musical director since March 2010. 

“We had just finished writing the song ‘Marry the Night’ [for the new album] and she’s like, ‘Hey, I want you to oversee my whole album,’ ” Garibay remembers with a laugh. “Overseeing the album of the biggest artist on the planet? No problem!”

So who is Fernando Garibay? First and foremost, he is a proud Mexican American born and raised in Los Angeles. Growing up, he listened to a lot of mariachi music and ABBA and became a DJ with a passion for dance records. Eventually, he worked his way up to remixing crossover hits for none other than Enrique Iglesias in 1999. He’s now part of the Interscope Records family.

Gagita and Garibay met some four years ago, after their mutual boss, Interscope Records Chairman Jimmy Iovine, sent the then aspiring pop star to Garibay’s studio. When Gaga showed up in what he describes as “pretty much in her underwear,” Garibay says it was “love at first sight.” Soon they began work on what became Gaga’s 2009 EP, The Fame Monster. And they’ve been writing songs ever since, on almost every stop of Gaga’s lengthy world tour, which wrapped this month. The result is Born This Way, which we are obsessed with, as is the rest of the world.

We asked Garibay to break down the bilingual song “Americano,” which is on the album and which Gaga premiered in Mexico during an epic Cinco de Mayo concert earlier this month. It’s a moment Fernando says he will never forget. 

We could not believe our eyes and ears when we witnessed “Americano” via a YouTube video the day after the Mexico concert. Can you tell us about the song?

We describe ‘Americano’ as a Mariachi techno-house record, about immigration law, gay marriage, and the disenfranchised, particularly Mexican communities in America as told through a love story set in East LA. We chose East LA, as you know, because it's one of the most prominent and most historic Mexican communities in the US, not to mention part of where I grew up.

How did it feel for her to sing that song in Mexico of all places?
As you can imagine it was such an honor when she asked me up on stage with her to perform an acoustic version of ‘Americano’ just how we wrote it— on the guitar. Having my family there along with 70,000 people experiencing ‘Americano’ live for the first time is a moment I will never forget. She is very giving and very generous in that sense. I don't know any other artist who invites their [musical director’s] family [to the concert] and surprises them with having their son go up on stage for an impromptu performance.

How did the idea for the song come about?

The idea for the song came right before we started writing it; which was right on the eve of when Prop 8 was overturned last year. We were inspired that night for sure; fighting for [things like] love, the government not telling us who we can't marry, and hearing about family members and friends being split up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It was a call to arms for Gaga and I for sure. On top of all this for her to sing a lot of the lyrics in Spanish was a real honor for us Latinos, and further drove the message home. 

How is Gaga’s Spanish coming along?

Her Spanish is pretty good I must say. She sings it as well as she speaks it.

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