Puerto Rico’s Los Rivera Destino have made a name for themselves on the island with their bolero and cha-cha-chá takes on your favorite trap and reguetón songs. Formed by Carlos Figueroa, Fernando Tarrazo and Antonio “Tony” Sánchez, their most viewed video is a bolero take of Bad Bunny’s hit “Te boté,” with over 2.1 million videos on YouTube. It was this cover that turned Bad Bunny into an admirer of the group.
“When [Bad Bunny] heard it, he shared it on his social media, and we went from being some guys making videos on YouTube, and who had gone through the hurricane [María] and were going through a depressive time, to having work within music thanks to that,” Carlos, one of the members of Los Rivera Destino, told Latino Rebels during an interview with the group.
Though their covers might’ve increased their audience, the band has been making original songs for over six years. And after staying in touch with the reguetón star through Instagram, the artists came together to create “Flor,” a bolero dedicated to fathers, featuring Bad Bunny, who is going by his birth name for the first time (Benito Martínez) and is also singing.
The video, directed by Claudia Calderón, is a pastel-colored journey through tender moments between fathers and their children, shattering conceptions of masculinity. Accompanied by sincere and at-times tongue-in-cheek lyrics like “I’m not more than a reaction to an ejaculation you released one day, and for that from one flower to another, I thank you for my life,” the band hopes the track can usher a genre that older generations enjoyed into a new generation.
“For us and for Benito, it’s also a gift not only for newer generations but for older generations too, and we think that’s what’s going to have an impact,” Fernando said during the interview.
Latino Rebels spoke with Los Rivera Destino about “Flor,” what it was like to work with Bad Bunny and what they hope listeners will take home from this ode to fatherhood.
LR: Could you talk to us about this single. What’s it about?
Fernando: The song “Flor” is a gift to all fathers in Puerto Rico and the world. It’s a bolero we’ve been making with Benito, and the song obviously refers to a flower. A flower somehow represents a way of humanizing paternal relationships. And to also touch on the issue of masculinity and what it means to be a father in modern society. We had the idea of it being about a flower, and it was Benito who thought about making the song a bolero. We also have the same cultural and musical background, and we figured it was a pretty cool idea.
We also admire him, and vice-versa, but we thought of this as a challenge too. And I think that musically, it is something that will contribute a lot to this generation so that about boleros, what music was like back in the past in Puerto Rico and around the world, and basically that was the idea. I call it an event, a day where everyone will listen to this and will be able to share it with their family, as a special moment, a gift.
LR: Yes, we will all probably share with our dads.
Fernando: Sí, that’s the flow.
LR: You guys deal with satire in music, which at times has funny lyrics. For example, there’s a line that says, “Even if I don’t share your last name.” It’s clearly satirical, but it also touches on masculinity and so it’s also serious. How does masculinity come up in the song?
Carlos: Well, yes, usually a flower is not necessarily connected with masculinity or fatherhood. On the contrary, a flower always tends to symbolize a couple’s love. Always. And if it’s with the father or the mother, they always identify flowers with the mother. We’ve had the symbol of the flower as part of our logo for six years now. We’ve been making music, comedy and everything else for six years, and the flower has always intentionally been our symbol. And so we turned it into a song, among the four of us. And that’s what we talk about, that you are also a flower. Almost like humanizing and turning the father into a more normalized figure who also has feelings. They experience human things just like others, although they look like the strongest people in the world many times.
LR: Sometimes fathers complain that Father’s Day isn’t given as much importance as Mother’s Day. With this song, you’re almost saying toma, there you go.
Carlos: Yes, that was part of the idea. We were saying we want to celebrate good fathers, but also fathers who haven’t been the best. I mean, we wanted to celebrate all possible father figures because not everyone has the same father figure. And that was part of what we wanted to include in the song. It could be your uncle, your grandparent, it could be your godfather, or someone who adopted you. There’s isn’t just one father figure. Everyone has their own, and we wanted to celebrate that.
Fernando: Besides that, it’s interesting that this song, if you change father figure to mother figure, the flower and everything else around it makes sense. But what we wanted to do was switch everything up patas arriba, the entire concept of a flower and beauty, and fragility, sensibility, relating it to something that isn’t regularly related to masculinity or paternity.
Also, the generation of our parents, they listened to boleros. Our dad’s are all musicians, and that was the kind of music they listened to so it was also logical to make it like that.
LR: Now that you brought up bolero, you mentioned that it was Bad Bunny who had that idea to pick that genre for this song. What was the process of recording this?
Carlos: So Bad Bunny, in this case Benito Martínez, he likes to challenge himself. We connected through [Instagram] DM’s and talked all the time. He had already said he wanted to make a bolero and it’s because he wanted to dare himself. He wanted to sing, and that’s how he wanted to do it. We even sent him an earlier version where we had made it easier. It had like a rock beat that he could rap over, and he said, ‘No no no, take that off, let’s go the traditional way, I want to sing.’ So all of this, and the desire to collaborate with us, and us with him, it gave him the hunger to challenge himself as an artist, and he wanted to sing and do something different.
About the recording process, everything was long distance because he was in the middle of a tour. We were working long distance and saw each other a few times, but we’d always send him what we were working on, and he’d give us his opinion. Until one day we went into the studio, and we made it happen.
During the process we had people like Ismael Cancel and Ileana Cabra, who are ex-members of the band Calle 13. We were in Playback Studios, where Calle 13 and a lot of bands record. We were in good hands.
Fernando: I remember one moment when the four of us were in the studio, surrounded by like 14 Grammys, right next to us, Calle 13’s Grammys, and it was a surreal experience.
LR: So it was a blast recording this.
Fernando: A complete blast.
And as you could see in the video too, yes.
LR: Could you tell us about the process of recording the video. How long did it take to record and to think of the concept and artistic direction?
Fernando: Well, so that you get an idea, the entire process took about two weeks, more or less to record. It was important for Benito to be there, so when he came, that’s when we had to attack and we had very little time. It’s something interesting about this process, the time when it was done.
Between production and other parts of the process, it took about a month and a week. Claudia Calderón made it happen and it was done super fast. For me, it was a success. Everything came out beautiful.
LR: What more can we expect from you guys? What other projects do you have in mind?
Carlos: We’re always working on a couple of things, so you can expect a lot of music from Los Rivera Destino. Like we always say, we’re ready to do whatever it takes to make our first LP or our first album. We’re working on something like it. We still don’t have a concept so we are not announcing it, but yes we’re making music.
LR: It seems that a lot of what you do, kind of like you said before about bringing bolero into a new generation, you reimagine ballads and make them modern, in your own way, like the cover of “Te boté” or the Daddy Yankee cover. How did this idea come about?
Carlos: That’s something we started last year. We’ve been making original music for six years, and everything is always 100 percent original with a social focus. But then after Hurricane María in Puerto Rico, we didn’t have jobs and we were going through a rough time. Antonio’s friends thought of making a show that used the most recognized trap and reguetón songs performed in a completely opposite genre. With us, it’s not necessarily what we wanted to do, but we do enjoy the process. It’s cool. But it was for a specific show that we went on tour with.
It was a cool process and now we understand the opposite about what we thought about in the first place. We’ve seen how similar a trap song and a bolero song can be, in terms of themes.
Amanda Alcántara is the Digital Media Editor at Futuro Media. She tweets from @YoSoy_Amanda.