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Sebastian Yatra spans genres. His new album 'Dharma' takes on another


Sebastian Yatra can kind of do it all. Since splashing into the Latin music scene in 2016 and gaining fans across the globe, the Colombian artist's song spanned pop, reggaeton and ballads, and his new album "Dharma" finds him stepping even further outside of defined genres.


SEBASTIAN YATRA: (Singing in Spanish).

SUMMERS: Sebastian Yatra joins us now. Hello. welcome.

YATRA: Juana, how are you? Thank you so much for having me here at NPR. I'm super-excited to come talk to you about my third album, which is called "Dharma."

SUMMERS: It is called "Dharma," which is a very spiritual word. What does that mean to you, and how does it connect to the themes that you approach in this album?

YATRA: For me, dharma is accepting your reality. And dharma is the, like, other side of karma. We all know about karma, and we associate it with all the bad stuff that happens to you in life. Like, oh, you get all this back because you were bad. But it's more like karma is the lessons you come to learn in life, and they're associated with ego and expectations and fear. But once we learn one of these lessons or we start learning lessons, we transform those feelings, and we go into another state, which is called dharma. And dharma is, like, at a higher level of conscience, and it's where we accept reality and we accept things as they are.

SUMMERS: Let's take a listen to that title track.


YATRA: (Singing in Spanish).

SUMMERS: This is a collaboration with flamenco artist Rosario Flores and vallenato musician Jorge Celedon. You hear both of those genres in the song. How did that fusion come together?

YATRA: That fusion came together in a very, like, natural way for all of us. We wanted to write a song that was partly vallenato, which is the music that comes from my country, Colombia, and partly flamenco, which comes from Spain. And it's a country that I lived in basically last year. I really wanted to, like, pay homage to that country as well with their music. And so we wrote the song with the title of the album because I wanted to do a song that, like, reflected these lyrics and that talked about, you know, all the amazing things that come into your life or, like, this one person comes into your life to save you were to be with you and accompany you. And you say, I must have done something good in another life or in this one.


YATRA: (Singing in Spanish).

When I did the track, I really wanted to have, like, someone from each of these countries singing with me. I never imagined that Jorge Celedon, which is one of the most iconic vallenato singers, and Rosario, which is, like, a living legend, would say yes, but they did. And they put their heart into this song, and I couldn't be happier. It's like the icing on the cake for me.

SUMMERS: I wonder if you can talk about how having grown up with so many different influences has influenced the music that you make yourself.

YATRA: It's fun for me because if you listen to my music and you listen to "Dharma," I don't sing any genre. I just sing songs, and I jump around from rhythm to rhythm, genre to genre. There's like a punk rock song that's very, like, Blink-182 in the album with Aitana from Spain. There is a cumbia that I did by myself in "Amor Pasajero," and there's a song called "Modo Avion" that - it's, you know, kind of like that very pop song vibe of what's going on right now. And "Quererte Bonito" is a song that you really just don't understand what it is, but it transmits a lot, and we really never really knew what it was, but we knew it was magical.



YATRA: This song - Elena and I met right after quarantine for me in Colombia, and it was like an instant friendship and, you know, a very strong connection and deep admiration right away. But it's a song that was impossible to record the way music is recorded normally nowadays, that you start with a click, and then you record a guitar, and you put the piano, and you put the drums, and then you start adding sounds. And then you put in the vocals, and you add harmonies, but - one layer at a time. No. Like, it was literally impossible because this song has - this song has so many changes to the tempo. There's a lot of silence in it and then starting again, and it's all about connection. So we had to record it 100% live, and that was super-fun.


YATRA AND ROSE: (Singing in Spanish).

SUMMERS: So I'd like to play one more song that many of our listeners with young children are probably very familiar with by this point. You recently recorded an original song for Disney's "Encanto." It's called "Dos Oruguitas".


SUMMERS: That song has been shortlisted for an Oscar for best original song. Congratulations.

YATRA: Thank you so much. I'm still processing everything with "Encanto" and how magical this experience has been. Just being able to represent my country, Colombia, and work with Disney on an animated feature was something I think we all dream about. Lin-Manuel is absolutely amazing in so many ways, and his whole team and everybody at Disney, they treated me with a lot of love. And they made this movie with the utmost respect for our culture and with so many good intentions and with a very positive message. And I think that's the reason that it's having the appeal that it's having with people all over the world.

SUMMERS: That's the artist Sebastian Yatra. His new album, "Dharma," is out now. Thank you so much for being with us.

YATRA: Thank you so much.


YATRA: (Singing in Spanish). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Juana Summers is a political correspondent for NPR covering race, justice and politics. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.