CNCO is a Boyband Built for Brilliance
The Latin pop group chats about their third studio album, new single and life in lockdown.
The Latin pop group chats about their third studio album, new single and life in lockdown.
Text: Trishna Rikhy
CNCO is a breath of fresh air in the music industry, a boyband to be reckoned with as they reshape and reimagine classic hits from decades past.
The multi-platinum, gold-certified group has sealed their status as one of the biggest musical acts in the world, and with good reason. Made up of Miami-based members Erick Brian Colón, Richard Camacho, Joel Pimentel, Christopher Vélez and Zabdiel De Jesús, CNCO formed in 2015 on the first season of Simon Cowell and Ricky Martin’s Spanish-language singing show La Banda, and have been climbing the tower of success ever since—the group of five has sold out shows on multiple continents, racked up millions of followers on Instagram, achieved nine Latin American Music Awards and most recently made history by being the first Latin American group to receive an MTV Moonman award for Best Quarantine Performance.
Now, CNCO is paying homage to the classic Latin American artists who came before them. Their highly anticipated third studio album, Déjà Vu, is now available for pre-save, a 13-track project reimagining some of the decades’ greatest hits and breathing new life into old music. The first single of the album, “Tan Enamorados,” also dropped alongside a music video reimagining the 80s hit and incorporating a black-and-white boyband spin on the familiar and beloved song by Ricardo Montaner.
Below, VMAN talks to CNCO about Déjà Vu, making history, and what lies ahead on the horizon for the adored boyband who put out just as much love and good feeling into the world as they take in. Read on for the full interview and stream “Tan Enamorados” on all platforms now.
VMAN: How have you guys been, are you all quarantining together?
Joel Pimentel: No, well…
Zabdiel De Jesús: Kind of.
JP: We live in the same building.
VM: Oh, different apartments?
CNCO: Yeah, yeah.
Christopher Vélez: Together, but not scrambled!
CV: It’s a Spanish saying.
JP: Juntos, pero no revueltos.
VM: Tell me about how you’ve been throughout lockdown then, it’s so nice that you’re at least in the same building so you don’t really have to have any kind of restrictions.
Richard Camacho: Well, it’s been good man, I think for us it’s been a learning experience too, as well as many other people. We’ve just been doing what we can with what we’ve got, you know, staying creative, doing music, learning new things. learning how to cook, how to draw, paint, clean our house, you know, a bunch of stuff. Things that we didn’t really do before—I know it sounds kind of cliche and normal, but for us, it’s been years that we haven’t sat down to do these things and spend time with our family. So we just, you know, have been putting this album out as well. It came about during quarantine, the idea, and we’ve just been back and forth with our team and this album is very good for us. It’s so nostalgic, it gives us so many good memories and our family as well and so many people out there are gonna love it hopefully. So yeah, much love and respect.
VM: Your first tour was postponed because of the pandemic, right? How was that?
CV: Yeah, we had to stop. We were going to start our tour in June, the beginning of June, but of course with the quarantine and everything that happened we had to stop. But that gave us time, to be honest, how Richard said, to sit down and just think. We were going to come out with another album too, besides the one that we’re coming out with right now, that has our songs and our different type of music. But this gave us time to re-listen to that album and kind of…
RC: Take our time.
CV: Yeah, take our time on it, and kind of keep building it up and recreating it and working on it. And that gave us time to think about this new album too.
RC: Which was a concept to give to the fans, too, you know, which was like the happiness and that joy that we felt in those days, to bring it back to the new era. And also to those parents in those days, to listen to that music and kind of have that bonding and that family time in this time we have now.
VM: Definitely. So that old album that you scrapped during quarantine, are you still going to release it sometime in the future?
RC: Yeah, for sure.
ZDJ: Yeah, we’re still working on it.
VM: Oh, that’s great. So you also won the MTV Award for Best Quarantine Performance, which is a huge deal. Just that alone is so impressive, but you made history by doing it, by being the first Latin boyband to receive a Moonman award.
ZDJ: Oh, wow, that’s dope!
Erick Brian Colón: Yes!
CNCO: [all clapping, consecutive whoops]
VM: …Wait, did you just find out you made history? You knew, right?
RC: Did we know?
ZDJ: Honestly, I didn’t know.
CV: To be honest, this is the first time we’re hearing that.
ZDJ: We didn’t know about that, but thank you for telling us!
RC: Yeah, thank you.
VM: Well, how does it feel?
ZDJ: Amazing. Actually, it was the first time we had a nomination at the…
CV: The VMAs.
ZDJ: The VMAs. It was the first time that we did a performance in the main stage, so it was very special for us, and on top of that having the opportunity to win the award, like it was—we didn’t expect it.
RC: Blessings. It was a blessing.
JP: Blessings, yeah.
VM: Did it make quarantine seem easier to get through because you had that to keep you going, or was it harder because you wanted to be back performing in person, back in the studio, things like that?
CV: It was kind of both, to be honest. To rehearse this, we didn’t have too much time to rehearse. We had maybe four days to do it, to prep the song too, to kind of give a different…we were thinking about what we could do with no people, to be honest, no public. We were brainstorming how we could do it, how we could make it work and MTV helped us a lot. They gave us the whole stage, they gave us the opportunity to go around the whole floor, on top of the cars. It was such an amazing and big moment for us, to be honest.
VM: So let’s switch gears a little bit to talk about your music now. What inspired you to reimagine…well, the music video for “Tan Enamorados” is so nostalgic. It’s full of references to the 80s, New Kids on The Block, so what made you want to reimagine it for now?
RC: We kind of wanted to record, like, just kind of do a concept inside of a concept, you know? Since there’s kind of already a whole concept project, we wanted to bring back those beautiful American moments as well and those dope pop culture historical eras as well. We wanted to just show love, especially to this boyband that we admire. Us as a boyband, it’s just a blessing to be doing these kinds of things, New Kids On The Block and all of that. So we just kind of wanted to recreate—not a better sound, but a sound that’s more current, kind of like what our fans are used to and the people are used to. And bring that nostalgia back, that whole déjà vu and them thinking that they know this song and then not knowing where it’s coming from, but then their parents come and they’re like, Wow, I used to love this song, you know? It’s that whole story that we want to create of good energy, you know, good vibes and bonding moments. Especially with Christmas, Thanksgiving coming up, we wanted to have that happy energy throughout this whole album and hopefully you guys enjoy that and see the vision.
VM: Yeah, it does definitely give the good vibes and stuff you’re talking about. So what was the process of recording the music video like and shooting that?
JP: We recorded actually not only this music video but 10 others in a time span of 4 days. It was crazy, we’ve never done that many in that amount of time. We usually take like one full day to record one video, but with the team that we had and the director, who is great…
RC: Eleven videos in 4 days!
JP: Pero, it was good, it was super fun, we enjoyed this one a lot too. I got to drive in this one. I think you can see the growth in these videos and I think everyone is gonna love it. It’s a whole different type of CNCO, I want to say.
VM: Wait, that’s crazy! Why did you record them in 4 days, why the time constraint?
RC: That was the time limit that we had to be able to release this as soon as we are right now.
JP: It was like two weeks ago.
RC: We worked on it, Carlos Perez helped us execute our plan in such an organized and super dope way. He actually created the name too, he came out with the Déjà Vu plan and the whole thing. We love that, that he put all his heart into this and helped us recreate the project that we were always imagining. We’re just super blessed with our team. Our team educated us behind all the songs and what we were recording, we were looking at the era and how important it was for that generation and stuff like that, so it was a good school moment for us as well in terms of the lyrics and musicality of it too. So yeah man, we’re just super blessed.
VM: To touch on that, so much of your music pays homage to and draws on inspiration from the past, even the great Latin American artists from decades ago. What can you say to being able to look back on them to draw inspiration for now? I mean, you guys are making music for the people you were when you listened to them as you were young, so how does that feel to you?
RC: It’s cool to look back at that history and the beautifulness that it had in that era, and it still has the same impact, you know? During quarantine, we kept listening to these songs with our parents, with our aunts, things like that, people who came in the house and whatever. And we kind of loved how everything was so positive and everything was so great about these songs, and as we were recording we realized why these songs are so great and why they’re so popular and so beautiful to other people and it touched their hearts. The lyrics are so poetic, the songs, the melodies, they’re so poetic. So it helped us realize how music has evolved and changed throughout these times, and we would love to just touchback on those poetic and beautiful stories with our current sound, our sound as well, you know? We just wanted to show love with all due respect to everybody else and to all those artists and recreate it as well as we can, showing respect and showing love in bringing them back.
VM: You guys have also started using TikTok and making Instagram Reels, which is so fun and popular now. How did you get into using that platform and what’s it like interacting with your fans on there now?
CV: It’s dope! I mean, we started a dance challenge with our last single called “Beso.” These platforms help a lot too in this moment, because right now everyone is just in their houses and just want to vibe or dance, to be honest. It’s really cool for everyone to share their music and share their videos. This kind of platform has helped all of us, in the industry and to the people to make them see what they can do. Either it’s one of their arts, or one of their qualities…
CV: Whether it’s singing whether it’s dancing, whether it’s just—
RC: —Just speaking and recording themselves, yeah.
CV: Exactly, so it’s just these platforms, I think they help a lot in these moments. For artists, too.
VM: So it’s been almost 5 years exactly since you formed as a boyband. How do you think your sound has evolved in the past half-decade, and how do you think you as a band, you as individuals, have evolved since then?
CV: We evolved a lot. In all aspects, like musically, in our presence, on stage.
RC: Even our families.
RC: Our connections with our families helped us as well.
CV: We’ve been growing up a lot. These past five years helped us to become a family too, with each other. [others laugh] We know a lot about us.
JP: We know a lot. During the beginning of our careers and CNCO, we were kind of more guided through everything. You know, we knew nothing about the industry, or if we knew something it wasn’t that much.
RC: And it wasn’t what we expected.
JP: Exactly. But now we kind of have a vision of what we want to look like and what we want to do. We’re much more involved in the creative and everything. So that too, I think we’ve grown a lot professionally.
VM: Tell me a little about that vision, then, that you created for yourself. What lies ahead for you as a group?
JP: Just our style, the type of music, what we want to do, the marketing, everything. We’re basically just really involved in what we’re doing now, we’re not being babied. Which was actually good, ‘cause we were just starting out, I think every artist that’s starting out needs that. But now it’s like we’ve kind of been in this for a few years now. We know what we want, we know what we want to sound like, we know kind of like how to attack this or promote some certain things.
RC: We’re starting to create a vision and executing our vision.
JP: We have more of a mature look, not like what we were when we were singing like three years ago.
RC: We’re evolving, yeah.
Mucho flow 💯 @richardcamacho @zabdieldejesus42
VM: That’s great, wow. So what can we expect from your third album?
RC: For our third album, we hope to bring new songs, our own as well, things we’ve been working on. But right now we’re so focused on Déjà Vu, we can’t even think of anything else right now.
CV: Our new baby.
RC: Yeah, we’re focused on our new baby, just hoping for everyone to receive it with so much love and with the love that we put into this as well. We’re just very excited for everything that’s to come.
VM: I mean, five years, you’ve literally just recorded 10 videos, have a new album…everything seems to be working out for you. Knock on wood.
CV: Yeah, it’s been a good year.
JP: It’s been good.
VM: So is there anything else you want fans to know, about your music, the new album, anything?
CV: We love them! We love them so much.
RC: Release tonight at midnight! And tomorrow you can also preorder the album, so you’ll get it soon, you’ll start to get the new songs and everything.
CV: So much content coming up, and hopefully waiting for this to be over so we can go on tour, and visit you, and do concerts and do everything.
RC: Yes sir!
VM: And in the meantime, there’s always TikTok.
CV: Yes, TikTok.
ZDJ: There is Zoom..