When Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Kany García made her big debut two years ago with the romantic pop album Cualquier Día, she wasn’t expecting to win four Latin Grammy awards and the love of critics and listeners around the world. “With the first record, the only thing you want is to make something that you love and represents your work,” she says. Now she has another album on the horizon titled Boleto de Entrada (out Sept. 22), a more evolved sound and many more fans to please. I spoke with the artist from her home in Dorado, Puerto Rico, about this new collection of songs and the pressures involved:
Because your first record was such a big success, is it more stressful to make a second album?
Much more stressful. When you already know the work involved and how complicated it is to make it to the top 10, get radio play and connect with the public, it’s more intimidating. Of course, when you feel secure in what you’re doing, that creates a certain confidence.
What was the inspiration behind Boleto de Entrada?
It was important to make a record in which I could showcase more of myself and shows some musical growth now that I have the faith of my public. In terms of the lyrics, they’re very simple but always real. All of the songs have a story behind them.
What kind of stories?
There’s a song called “Hoy” that came about unexpectedly. My back was hurting and I went to see a message therapist and she started to tell me about her husband. She had asked him to change for so long but he didn’t pay attention, eventually she lost the enthusiasm for their relationship. Now that he’s ready to be the man that she wanted him to be, it’s too late. I was inspired by that to write “Hoy.”
How would you describe the overall sound of the album?
It’s a vintage sound that’s been reborn. It’s also Latin but at the same time trying to be international. We used a lot of folkloric instruments, like the Puerto Rican cuatro. There’s definitely lots of fusion.
Do you have a favorite song?
The ballad “Esta vida tuya y mía” is my favorite because I enjoy singing it. It narrates a love story about someone who finds out that everything they thought about their partner is a lie. I did the strings on the song. And it really tears me up when I sing it.
What about the lead single, “Feliz,” is that a state of mind for you these days?
I have a thousand reasons to be happy: I have a new record coming out; a public that is waiting for me; a record label that has faith in me. The actual song is about how breaking up with someone can be a joyous thing. We filmed the video two weeks ago. It consists of photos—25,000 of them comprise the video. We filmed it in New York and it’s great.
What about the ode to Puerto Rico, “Mi Dueña”? I imagine you writing it while looking at the sea from your balcony.
I wrote it in Miami. It’s the kind of song that can transport you anywhere. That’s why I don’t mention Puerto Rico. But for me it represents so much. After working on the first record, I just wanted to be in my country, Puerto Rico. I love my country. People who know me always say that if music doesn’t work out, I can be a tour guide.
Speaking of P.R., you did a duet with your compatriot Tego Calderón.
There’s a funny story behind that song. I went to get a tattoo last year and there was a pretty girl talking about how she only dates ugly guys with a certain funky look. It became a duet with Tego, who calls himself the “ugly guy among the beautiful women,” so I wasn’t insulting him. He’s married to a model and the song was a good fit.
Who else do you want to work with?
I was almost going to work with Reyli on this album. I’d like to work with him, Juan Luis Guerra, Julieta Venegas, mostly singer-songwriters.
Do you consider yourself a singer or a songwriter first?
I wouldn’t know what to tell you. Both are so different. Writing is a lonely job that I do when inspiration strikes. Singing is something that I have to do when a crowd is waiting—whether I like it or not. Of course, you can’t connect with people as a composer. That happens on stage.
What do you when you’re not writing or singing?
Nothing that has to do with music. I spend time with family and friends. I love cooking. I make something called a pastelón de plátanos amarillos, it’s like a lasagna but with plantains. Cooking is another way of creating and, like music, it lets you improvise.