MIAMI (Billboard) - Argentine star Diego Torres ends his four-year break from recording with "Distinto" (Different), which ventures beyond his usual pop territory.
On the album he collaborates with the likes of alternative singer-songwriter Kevin Johansen and urban Spanish act La Mala Rodriguez. Torres' first release since 2006's "Andando" hits stores May 10 on his new label, Universal.
Billboard: Compared with your previous albums, which have been more pop-leaning, the new set is very uptempo.
Diego Torres: We wanted an album like this that had more power overall. In looking for a new sound, I wanted to record a power album. I had this notion from the onset. The electric guitar is in a way a leading player on this album and a common thread that keeps it all together. Even the ballads are power ballads.
Billboard: What was your mental process as you returned to the studio after four years?
Torres: Internally, I very much wanted to do something new -- look for new horizons, new countries, new arrangements. It took me awhile until I felt comfortable and everything began to acquire more focus. A lot of things happened in between. I finished a tour, I started a relationship with a new label, my father had health problems. I felt the need to stop. You need energy to get onstage, and I just didn't have it. On the one hand, it was a breather, and on the other, it was an artistic change, an opportunity to reinvent myself.
In the beginning, I began to write and work on songs, and really, I wasn't getting what I wanted until I started to encounter songs that were more in line with what I was searching for. There were many songs that were beautiful, that I liked, but not for this album. I worked on 35 songs for this album and we kept 10, and I'm very confident of each of them.
Billboard: You spent 18 years with BMG, and later with Sony when it acquired the label. Why the switch to Universal?
Torres: I had a great run with Sony and I felt I completed a cycle, as much on their part as on mine. And I took my time to begin a new cycle. Universal offered me a project that I thought I needed at this point in time. They offered solid and constant development throughout the (Latin American and U.S. Latin) region, which is what I needed. My music is strewn over many countries, and I needed that kind of work to continue developing my career. Really, it wasn't so much about the business deal per se, but about developing my music at a regional level.
Billboard: Talk about the new single, "Guapa," which deals with guardian angels.
Torres: I wrote it in Buenos Aires with Noel Schrajis. And it came about in a very clear, direct fashion. I wrote it thinking about guardian angels, but in a more realistic, day-to-day approach, because sometimes we don't even see the difficulties that surround us, and we need someone beside us to get us back on track again. That's why I told the story through one character, to give it a more cinematic approach. And I showed that we are all our own guardian angels, and we can save ourselves, or save others.
Billboard: Your mother, Lolita Torres, was a famous movie actress, and you started out as a TV actor. Was this a double-edged sword?
Torres: On the one hand it helps your recognition and popularity. But afterward, you run into a credibility issue. That's why I placed a lot of care in how I handled my career, and I stopped doing TV. I didn't leave my acting aside, and I never will -- I do film. My last acting role was in an independent movie in 2004. But I did begin to constantly tour and perform and give a lot of seriousness and depth to my career as a musician. I think the worst thing that can happen to you as an artist is have people see you everywhere doing all sorts of things.
Billboard: Perhaps your biggest regional hit is "Color Esperanza" (from 2001's "Un Mundo Diferente"), a song that came out when Argentina was in a recession. It became so famous it was sung in schools, along with the national anthem.
Torres: That song exceeded all my expectations. We (he and co-writers Cachorro Lopez and Coti) never thought it would provoke those reactions. But people connect with the song's fighting spirit and that glimmer that it offers. I find people react to it, everywhere, in the most extraordinary ways. I sang it in Bogota (Colombia), following the tragedy of El Nogal (a social club bombed by leftist guerrilla group the FARC). People went to the stadium and sang it waving candles and white flags. It was very emotional.