One of the countries that most deeply felt the pandemic and its lockdown is Spain. But recused in his home in Málaga, Pablo Alborán wrote an album that’s the opposite of “pared down.”
Vértigo, produced by Julio Reyes, is romantic and lush and more than a little melancholy (although there’s a couple of up-tempos in there, including Alborán’s first foray into bachata). It’s an album, says Alborán, of the little moments that make our lives worthwhile.
Alborán answered 20 questions for Billboard from his home in Spain.
1. What gives you vertigo?
Love, heights, the political and social situation we’re living, the pandemic. Music gives me vertigo. I’ve learned how to live with vertigo and love vertigo. In the end, it’s helped me make decisions and take a step forward. Vertigo has never stopped me. In the end, all vertigo brings something good, even if it feels negative in the moment.
2. What is the emblematic song of this album?
The song that means a lot for me and still excites me every time I listen to it is the title track. It’s very symphonic, it has jazz and classical touches that have nothing to do with the rest of the album. And it talks of goodbyes, but in the end, you’ve learned something from that goodbye. That’s why it’s called “Vertigo.” You have to learn from everything that happens to us.
3. What did you learn during quarantine?
I learned to value much more the little moments. This album is about all those little things that make our lives great. This pandemic has brought us a concept of responsibility we didn’t have before. Valuing family and every second we have with others. It’s also made us reflect on how we make music and how we present it and how fans want music.
4. Any new acquired skills?
Two. I learned how to dance bachata. And I learned how to dye my mom’s hair. She’d never had gray hair. And one day she said, ‘Pablo, my hair is gray and the hair salons are closed!’ I said, ‘no worries mom. I’ll dye your hair.’ As if I knew how. It was trial and error.
5. What person first believed in your musical talent?
My family. But Domi del Postigo, a journalist from Málaga, allowed me to sing on his local TV show. And because of that show I started getting calls from managers and labels.
6. A before and after in your career?
The first shows I played in Madrid. I went from playing small bars and clubs for 50 people to playing a packed Palacio de Madrid. And then I traveled beyond Spain and realized there was an audience for me.
7. First song you bought with your own money?
I bought an album; a compilation flamenco album that featured songs by Camarón de la Isla and other artists playing his music.
8. First concert you went to?
[Portuguese fado singer] Dulce Pontes and [Galician flute player] Carlos Núnez. Dulce Pontes sings nostalgic, fado music. And Carlos Nuñez was also not the norm. But my parents in Málaga had a subscription to the theater and they’d take me with them to all these performances.
9. What did your parents do when you were young?
My father is an architect. My mom was a mother, which is hard to do when you have three children.
10. What was the first gift you bought your mother with money earned from music?
A dress. It was a light pink dress she wanted to wear for a wedding. She saw it, but didn’t buy it. I went to the store and I bought it for her and came back home and left it on top of her bed. And in fact, my dad knew nothing about it and he thought it was a gift from a lover! So, they had a five minute crisis in their lives where he was, “Who gave you this?” It was very funny, and we still laugh about it.
11. Last song you heard?
I can tell you right now. “Black Moon Rising” by Black Pumas.
12. Concert you’d like to see by any artist, dead or alive?
I’d love to see Beyonce. I haven’t yet. I would have loved to see Lola Flores. I have a long list. Juan Luis Guerra I saw only once when I was very young, so I’d like to see him again. Plus, I remember this amazing tour where he arrived in an elevator. It was amazing.
13. If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive who would it be?
Dali would be fantastic. J Balvin. I saw an amazing interview with him a short while ago, and he exuded such peace and calm. I was very surprised. I’d love to chat with him. I’m a fan. And Lola Flores! Can you imagine dinner and drinks with that woman? And Paco de Lucía! I’d bring them all together.
14. What song makes you cry? “
Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose.”
15. Favorite karaoke track ?
Ozuna’s “Caramelo.” It’s the song I most listened to in 2020!
16. What series did you binge watch during quarantine?
I watched again all the episodes of American Horror Story.
17. If you hadn’t been a musician, what would you have worked in?
Anything having to do with art. Or architecture. I started to study advertising and journalism. Maybe I’d be asking you for work!
18. Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us?
I do my interviews in slippers that aren’t sexy at all [he lifts up plaid slippers to the camera].
19. What do you spend too much money on?
Music. I consume a lot of music. And instruments. I have many guitars. And, I have a cooking robot! I learned how to cook and he helps. It does everything. I just put on my music and the robot cooks.
20. Who would you like to collaborate with?
I’d love to do a ballad with Shakira or Maluma. I’d like to work with someone no one expects. I learn a lot from the artists I work with.