Venezuelan-born brothers Mauricio and Ricky Montaner are carrying on the legacy of their father, legendary singer Ricardo Montaner, as the duo Mau y Ricky. They’re making a name for themselves as the most in-demand songwriters and collaborators in Latin music while scoring their own hits. Last month alone, the two released music with Mexican pop icon Thalía, Argentine pop princess TINI, and Colombian producer Ovy on the Drums. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Mau y Ricky also dropped their own love song, “Que Dírias.”
Mau y Ricky started performing together in 2011 as MR. Later they focused more on writing for other artists like Thalía, Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin, and Colombian reggaetonero Maluma. As Mau y Ricky in 2017, the duo released their debut EP Arte, which earned them a Latin Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. Like their dad Ricardo, they were mostly performing ballads on that EP.
After crossing over into reggaeton-pop sounds, Mau y Ricky found wider success in 2018 with hits featuring Colombian artists like Sebastián Yatra on “Ya No Tiene Novio,” Karol G on “Mi Mala,” and Manuel Turizo and their usual songwriting partner Camilo Echeverry on “Desconocidos.” Their debut album Para Aventuras y Curiosidades followed a year later and was certified Platinum in the U.S. Recently, it was nominated for Latin Pop Album of the Year at the Billboard Latin Music Awards.
While making themselves known as artists, Mau y Ricky continue to work as songwriters, having co-penned Mexican-American singer Becky G and Dominican reggaetonera Natti Natasha’s global smash “Sin Pijama,” which has over 1.6 billion views on YouTube. Now they’re in the fashion market with a new clothing line with the brand Friends + Family. The sky is the limit for Mau y Ricky. They talked exclusively with LaMezcla.com about their recent collaborations, the new single “Que Dírias,” and what’s next for them in 2020.
Q: What’s the difference between when you write a song for yourselves and when you write a song for someone else?
Mau: Usually when it’s for us, we’re a little bit more careful about what we want to represent as artists and what our message is.
Ricky: When we’re writing for other people, we’re trying to cater to what their message is. In our case, we want to spread a message a love and there’s certain things that we won’t say. It’s only a matter of what message we want to say.
Q: How has your life changed since releasing your debut album Para Aventuras y Curiosidades last year?
M: It’s been great. Every song off the album has done something for our career. They all have purpose whether it’s something important in the live shows or a deeper connection with fans. It’s been really beautiful to see how each song has a life of its own and the ability to connect with different people. It’s a great foundation for our career.
Q: You guys helped write Becky G and Natti Natasha’s “Sin Pijama.” How did that song come together?
R: We were in L.A. because Becky was recording a feature that we were doing. We were like, “Why don’t we stay an extra day and write a song for her?” We got together with Jon [Leone], who is our producer, and Camilo, who was a songwriter we were starting to pitch into sessions. We sat in a room and we had two vibes going at the same time and one of them was “Sin Pijama.” I remember Mau came up with the melody of the chorus pretty much all on his own. Camilo and I went to work on the lyrics and when Mau came back, he was like, “Ooh, that’s hard.” He really liked what we had done. We all had a big part in what the song came to be. We’re very proud of that one. That one did very well.
Q: The “Mi Mala” remix is one of my favorite songs. Who had the idea to bring Lali, Leslie Grace, and Becky G together with Karol G and you guys?
M: We actually had an entire EP or album with a bunch of songs with different girls on it. When the original version of “Mi Mala” came out, it connected so well that we had to put a stop to every song because the songs were going to come out a week a part. We came up with the idea with our team and our manager. We said, “Yo, how dope would it be if the remix for this song was with all the girls we have on the album?”God make it work and we were able to have all the girls in one place at the same time. When it came out, what’s so crazy and beautiful and dope is that people started recognizing it as part of the female empowerment movement. Originally, we didn’t do it with that thought. We just did it because we admire the girls like crazy. For us, they are as much a part of this industry, if not more than all the rest of us guys. I feel like they did it on their own, however, just that fact that we were able to get them all together was such an honor and such a beautiful moment.
Q: You guys have been busy. Last month you put out songs with TINI, Thalía, and Ovy on the Drums. How does it feel that all these people want to work with you?
R: It’s beautiful. I feel like it was a good start to the beginning of the year. I feel like people are really connecting with all three songs. We’re just happy to make music and have people who are wanting to listen to it.
Q: How did the song “Ya Tú Me Conoces” with Thalía come together?
R: That’s a song we wrote a couple of years ago. We couldn’t release it ourselves because it was in the middle of another single release. We really didn’t really know when to release it because we had like three or four singles lined up. When they told us that Thalía was looking for songs, we had already placed one song with her before. She heard it and was like, “I think this song is a hit and I want to do it with you guys.”
Q: Didn’t Thalía record another one of your songs before?
R: We didn’t sing it together, but she recorded a song I wrote called “Por Lo Que Reste de Vida.” She kind of had our career in her hands because I told myself, “If she records this song then I’ll take it as a sign that this is what I’m supposed to be doing. If she doesn’t record it then I will stop writing songs for other people.” I sent her the song and I didn’t hear back for two months. I was like, “Okay, this is for me.” Then I got the call from the president of Sony saying she’s not just recording it, but it’s going to be her single. I feel like that was a good sign for us to start doing that for other artists. And to be able to connect with her for a song that we’re now singing together, it’s like everything is coming back around.
Q: You’re going to perform it with Thalía at Premios Lo Nuestro. What can you tell me about that?
R: That’s going to be fun. We’re going to perform that song together for the first time. There’s this performance that’s going to happen with a couple of other artists, friends of ours, who will sing a couple of our other songs as well. It’s going to be a really great experience.
Q: How did your new single “Que Dírias” come together?
R: I was doing the Camino de Santiago. It’s a walk that people do like a pilgrimage. It’s a walk to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. We were walking for a whole week, doing about 50 miles a day on foot. It was an amazing experience. When I was doing the trip, I was just kind of writing the song as I was walking and trying not to think about how much my feet hurt. When I would get to the hotel, I would bring out the guitar and put the music together. I wrote the first half of the song when I did the trip and I just let the song chill. Then I wrote the second half on a flight. It’s a song that really showcases our vocal abilities. We were able to explore our falsetto.
Q: Mau, how do you feel to be sharing your personal wedding video in “Que Dírias”?
M: It’s crazy. I feel like it’s the first time I’m opening up like that to my fans. I know I’ve always been super open with my marriage. For the first time, I’m sharing this intimate video that no one has seen before. After my sister [Evaluna Montaner] getting married this week, I think it’s the perfect moment to really open up as family and show a message of love.
Q: Are “Que Dirias” and your previous single “Bota Fuego” going to lead to a new album?
R: Absolutely. We’re working on a new album that should be ready by summer. We have our next up-tempo single that comes out in about a month. That song is really special. I think it’s going to dictate the sound of the rest of the record.
Q: What can you tell me about your new fashion line?
M: We did our first collaboration with a brand called Friends + Family. It’s a designer, Pedro Tuma, who we collaborated with before on our merch. It’s the first time we’re doing a collaboration creatively. We’re selling it through NTWRK, which is super dope. It’s inspired by our song “Bota Fuego.” That’s why the colors are orange, yellow, and black.
Q: What are you plans for this year?
R: We’re going to be releasing a lot of music. There’s a couple of rumors that we’ll be doing a couple of TV shows. A lot of those rumors are true. We have a big tour in mind for this year. We’ll be doing our first tour of the states starting in the next couple of months.
Q: Now that you guys have collaborated with all the Latina divas, I would say you have a following of gay fans. I was wondering if you had a message for your gay fans.
R: Absolutely. We just promote love and acceptance and respect. Love is love period. All the following that we’ve gotten from the LGBTQ community has been amazing. Especially with the collaborations that we’ve done with Lali and TINI that are big in the community. Being able to be part of that as well has just been incredible. We love you guys so much. To be able to have fans who are part of that community is beautiful. To promote overall love, that’s our message.