Playing catch [up] with J Balvin
J Balvin, Tag Heuer’s latest ambassador, talks how to not #crackunderpressure.
A day spent with J Balvin is insightful. There’s a natural consistency about him that makes you wanna like the guy. Truthfully, you don’t have to spend the day with him to get that impression, though. If you are amongst some 15 million people who follow him on Instagram, you can tell he’s the real deal. His constant engagement, the live videos, that’s really him. The praying hands he throws up for photographs aren’t a call for attention; they aren’t a mockery of an emoji, the pose that seems almost calling-card for him is demonstrative of the grateful man he is. Grateful for all of the very many accomplishments he’s enjoyed as a result of another one of his innate qualities, hard work. This May he will join the ranks of Foster the People, Hardwell and Alesso while headlining the seventh annual Neon Desert Music Festival taking place in El Paso, Texas, on Memorial Day weekend. He just recorded a track dubbed “Hey Ma” alongside Pitbull and Camila Cabello, which will sit on the soundtrack for the upcoming film The Fate of the Furious, which was filmed in Cuba. And, most recently he was chosen to join the very handsome ranks of the friends of the Tag Heuer brand in the company of Cristiano Ronaldo and Bella Hadid. This collection of spokespersons, known to have been curated by another very wise man, the brand’s CEO, Jean Claude Biver (whom Balvin refers to, endearingly, as boss), is punctuated by different people, for different reasons. When Biver met Balvin in a hotel in Colombia the spontaneous marriage happened when Biver recognized just how great J Balvin’s reach was, because, again, you just want to like the guy.
We sat down with J Balvin on Miami Beach—between shopping trips (the man loves himself some nice threads)—to chat about some of his other recent accomplishments and all the reasons he keeps his hands together in grateful prayer.
TFB Congratulations, first and foremost for this super special honor. Tell me a little bit about how this relationship started with Tag Heuer and also how you first became familiar with the brand.
JB The relationship with tag started when I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Biver in Colombia. And it was really very spontaneous but it grew in to this great partnership and I feel so blessed. And as for my knowledge of the brand, I’ve known about Tag Heuer since I was a young boy. I always wanted one; I just didn’t have the means [back then].
TFB You’re the only Latin American ambassador, aren’t you?
JB Yes, and it’s been a great opportunity. And it’s a great part of the story of growth for Latin Americans.
TFB Aside from this ambassador title you were also recently named an ambassador for New York Fashion Week, Men’s. You’re vocal about being a lover of fashion and you were even at Toys for Boys’ cover star, Steve Aoki’s show. Tell me about that.
JB Steve Aoki’s show was so great. I loved that skate park sort of feel that it had to it. It was really something great to see. Since I was little I always loved fashion. Actually, I’m not really sure if it was something I would have referred to as a love for fashion at that time, but rather I was interested in style and in having my own style. I was always attracted to things that stood out. My mom let me wear whatever I wanted when I was a kid and I think that because of that, I was never afraid to explore. So I started to really understand accessories and stuff in that way. By exploring. Look at my hair. Hair is also an accessory and it’s become my thing.
TFB As part of some of your collaborations with American artist on your album, Energía, you work with Pharrell Williams who’s also really kind of a visionary and very intelligent. Did you take anything away in terms of lessons from working with him?
JB For me Pharrell is a master; not only musically but also spiritually. He’s brilliant. Super brilliant. And he taught me so many lessons, chief among them is probably that he was, is and will always be a student. And I think that that’s true of me as well. Thankfully. I always want to be learning. Always. Exploring what’s there as well as what’s coming.
TFB Your hit song, Ginza made the Guiness World Records, how does that make you feel?
JB This is the first time that ever happens in the history of Latin music. It’s incredible. That’s always been my dream, to make a statement as a Latino artist. To show that it is possible; that you can do it. The doors were never closed to us; it’s just that nobody tried to go through them. And when I think about being the first person in the history of Latin music to accomplish winning a Guiness World Record award for topping Billboard’s Hot Latin Song chart for 22 weeks running, I can’t believe it, even still. And it’s etched in history forever; there will never be another first time.
TFB I know that part of this collaboration with Tag Heuer is their participation in the annual Give to Colombia gala at which you will be performing. It’s a very special organization to you, tell me about it.
JB Obviously there will be some nice unique pieces being auctioned off including a watch, of course, Tag Heuer has been very generous. The truth is that life is perfect; there are no coincidences. It’s truly perfect. Thank God for having the opportunity to give back to Colombia after I’ve had the great fortune of having so much.
TFB Toys for Boys recently launched in Mexico as well which I know is also a very important market for both yourself and Tag Heuer, how have you seen great amounts of support from your fan base in Mexico?
JB Mexico is impressive; it’s truly impressive. The support has been phenomenal, in April I’ll be performing at the Auditorio Nacional and we’re practically sold out there. Its’ a blessing to see how we keep overcoming obstacles and rising above each day; watching things evolve. And Mexico, with its great people and culture has been a super important market. It is very influential; and has been so supportive of me and my career.
TFB Tell me what the dream continues to be. What can we expect to see from you this year?
JB The dream thiS year is to triple last year’s great successes. I think we started off well with a Guiness World Records nod; with New York Fashion Week and of course with the Tag Heuer partnership. Without any doubt it has been the world of music that has offered me these blessings; and God willing we will continue to accomplish much more in the days to come.