Touch 'El Cielo': Sky Rompiendo Talks Solo Artistry & Looks Back On His Award-Winning Hits
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Sky Rompiendo performs at Baja Beach Fest in Mexico in August 2023 PHOTO BY MATÍAS VIAL (@ILMATO_)
Over the past decade, Sky Rompiendo (@skyrompiendo) has established himself as not only a reggaeton and Latin trap hitmaker, but also a global-forward producer. The Colombia native produced Latin Grammy-winning anthems for Latin superstars like longtime collaborator J Balvin, Bad Bunny, Karol G, Rosalía, Maluma, Anitta, Nicky Jam and Ozuna. Now, he’s stepping into the solo artist lane for the first time.
I was reading that you started producing when you were 11. Is that correct?
I started getting more interested in production around 11. I always had this connection with music from my cousins or my friends from school. So I was more driven by music. And at 11 I started reading credits and becoming more a fan of the producers themselves. I found out about Pharrell, Timbaland and all these guys. And I started loving it.
I went to school here in Miami. I met this boricua friend from school who had FL Studio in his room. It was a pretty simple setup that he had, but that got me [interested]. I went back to Colombia for school. But because of the calendars, ,y school didn't accept me. So my father was like, “You got to do something. You're not going to stay at home.” So I started this class that was like an introduction to producing and that's how I got to know FL Studio. From there, I started making beats and getting to know more of the software. Through the years, I started learning more about music and more about producing. I started building myself as a producer after four or five years later.
I liked that you mentioned Pharrell and Timbaland because your beats does have that hip-hop influence.
I’ve always looked up to them, not only because of their music but they’re always at [the forefront]. So I really love that about those guys. And not only them, but a bunch of producers. I always admire that too. At the point when my career let me do that, I started to build this brand of myself.
Sky Rompiendo PHOTO BY MATÍAS VIAL (@ILMATO_)
What do you think makes Colombian reggaeton unique?
It all started in Medellín. Every region in my country has different genres, different types of music and different artists that our parents or we still play on holidays. So that type of writing and composing a song was very much from our roots. When I was 9 or 10, I started listening to reggaeton. We didn’t call it reggaeton because the first thing that got to Medellín was Panamanian music, and we called it ‘raga.’ It was El General, La Factoria, El Chombo and all these guys that were making this music that was so different for us. After that, reggaeton got on [the radio]: Tego Calderón, Héctor & Tito, Don Omar—this whole movement. How I blew up was [because of] the first big song with J Balvin, [2012’s] ‘Yo Te Lo Dije.’ The sound libraries are your resources. I know for sure none of us had those sounds: the dembow, the kicks, the snares, everything.
The producer with fellow Colombian artist in the recording studio. PHOTO BY MATÍAS VIAL (@ILMATO_)
You had to work with what you had.
Yeah, exactly. So that’s how I got to my sound. It was trying to do reggaeton but with the sounds I found. They weren’t the original ones. But I started trying to give them my touch so they could sound more like reggaeton. So it was more simple and minimalistic. My thought at the time was, ‘I’m not trying to overproduce anything, I’m just trying to let the song flow so people can understand it and feel the lyrics,’ because I was involved in the lyrics too. That’s how I started creating my identity as a producer.
PHOTO BY MATÍAS VIAL (@ILMATO_)
You’re not afraid to challenge yourself and try new sounds.
At some point, I think we did something to break barriers or break people’s thoughts that maybe reggaeton was something that was not for a kid or an old person. It’s obvious that we talk differently from Panamanians, the Boricuas or the Dominicans. So it started with the lyrics, then it continued with the beats and the success that the songs had. If the songs didn’t have that success, maybe it would’ve been a failed try. But since they did succeed, we have a part in saying, ‘Yo, I think we did something big for the genre.’ At this point, I think that all the artists should be taking risks with their albums or with singles and make the sound more familiar to everybody. The drum pattern is already in the whole world’s mind. So, how can we change that pattern? More artists like Bad Bunny, Rauw [Alejandro] and Rosalía are taking that risk, and that helps everybody to keep pushing.
Your debut album is dropping next year. Can you talk about the musical direction you’re going in?
My first album is a very important step for me. I never want to rush things. I’ve been making music for a lot of years. But this feels very different. I’m always doing stuff for people; now I’m doing stuff for me. I have the blessing of having friends in the industry, from artists who are super-talented who can help me with the vision too, just like how I helped them with theirs. Now, being a producer and [an] artist, I’m in a weird spot, to be honest, because I’m representing the whole vision, from the videos to the lyrics to the beats. So it’s a very cool process; I’m definitely out of my comfort zone. Musically, I want to give songs that people want to hear and that the clubs want to play. So I think this first step is going to be what people are expecting to hear from Sky. Maybe on the next album, I’ll go more experimental and I can do some crazy sh-t. But from this album, expect nothing but bangers for the club and very big hits.
Sky Rompiendo and Karol G have frequently collaborated together. PHOTO BY MATÍAS VIAL (@ILMATO_)
BEHIND THE HITS WITH SKY ROMPIENDO
“El Cielo” by Sky Rompiendo, Feid and Myke Towers
“It feels amazing to to see the results of a song. The idea I had with these guys—Feid and Myke Towers—became reality and reality for the fans too. I study the fan base of the artists a lot. I understand it and I to play a part in it. Some days, I'd be looking into the artists’ comments to understand the connection better. And that's how I got to 'El Cielo.' I understood the fan base of Feid and Myke Towers. I understood that they wanted that collab. Both are my friends. I worked with them a lot and we have this cool connection in the studio. So it was the perfect start and people got it right away. They were super happy. I heard a lot of people going to the club and playing it. I released the song before summer and I knew they were going to Europe for summer festivals and shit. So the song blew up there and then to the world. That's pretty much how I imagined it and made it reality. It was super dope for me to feel that we achieved something that we imagined. It’s very exciting but it wasn't that much of a surprise because we worked a lot for that song to win the way that it did.”
“Safari” by J Balvin feat. Pharrell, BIA and Sky Rompiendo
This was my first introduction to both you and J Balvin. I loved it because it fused dancehall with reggaeton.
Maybe nobody knows this but the session of “Safari” is a very important moment, not only for the people that were in the session, but for reggaeton in general. And I say this, because, for me it was a very special day to meet Pharrell at a very early stage of my career. I already told you, I have been looking up to him since I was 10 or so.
It was a full-circle moment.
Yes, a full-circle moment. That day when I left the studio, I told my friends, “I remember that I I lived my whole life playing Pharrell’s studio sessions with Justin [Timberlake] and everybody that he worked with. So watching him do his thing in front of me and looking at me like, “You f–k with this?” was an amazing thing. I learned a lot about his way of producing. But more than that, it was the sonic that he that he created that day. I think there's some elements of “Safari” that are still in today's reggaeton. And that's what makes Pharrell Pharrell.
He didn't make a reggaeton track, he made a Pharrell track that inspired me and a lot of people who went through Balvin’s music after that. He put a lot of additional textures and ideas that came into our beats that you still hear now. So it was a very important moment for the genre. For me, it was a very cool moment because it was my first time being an artist in a song. It wasn't planned out. I was just recording the demo for Balvin. And when I started recording the demo, I threw in the “A ella le gusta, A mí me gusta.”
That was you?
Oh, yeah, that's me. And that was supposed to be for Balvin to sing on. He told his engineer to loop those two bars and leave them in the song. I'm was like, “So Balvin's gonna cut that right?” [They said], “No, we gotta leave it with you. So it was a very cool moment. And to see that free spirit that Pharrell has on in the studio: “Let's call a friend of mine. I know that she's going to kill this.”
We didn't know BIA at that time. She went over a tree to write her shit and was on the phone for like 15 minutes. She came back and the first thing was that verse that you heard. I was like, “These people are so talented.” I started questioning myself and pushing my talent and my thoughts about music.
It was super dope because now for me BIA is one of the dopest rappers out there. She did so much. , after that. That session was the most important session so far for me. I kept in touch for a little with Pharrell doing some more sessions because the vibe was the correct one. I’m very thankful for that opportunity.
“La Fama” by Rosalía feat. The Weeknd
“It was during the pandemic because we were at the crib super isolated. Rosalia is super clear on her thoughts about what she wants. So she already knew that she wanted to do Bachata and she she was very firm about it. I just started looking for sh-t on my laptop and I found this trashy Bachata loop that I downloaded like 12 years ago. That was the only thing that we had.
So she started creating sh-t until she got into that beautiful guitar melody. Then I started writing with her and giving her top lines. She started thinking very strongly about The Weeknd. I started laughing not because I found that ridiculous. It's just because I found it funny that somebody thinks about bachata and wants The Weeknd on it. So I was like, 'Hell yeah.' I always trust her. I know she will make it happen.
So months passed. She called me and said, 'Yeah I did it. He’s on the song.' It was history. Working with her is very a cool journey. The way that she’s grown as an artist and as a brand is incredible. She deserves it all because she's one of the most talented people I know, to be honest.
PHOTO BY MATÍAS VIAL (@ILMATO_)
“Que Calor” by Major Lazer feat. J Balvin and El Alfa
“Everything starts as a connection. I connected with Diplo before the pandemic when I was doing this residency at Pacha in Ibiza. We became cool and we started exchanging ideas. He always wanted to do this up-tempo dembow because it was the new thing that was coming out to the world. And El Alfa obviously was the first person that you thought about when you heard dembow. I remember Mr. Eazi was there that night [when we recorded]. I brought a friend of mine from Australia. It was a bunch of different nationalities, different worlds. There are a lot of people involved in the song and that’s what makes it sound so global.”
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