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Alfredo Olivas Talks ‘Imaginación,’ His Norteño-Country Style, Collaborations & More

Five months after releasing the first single from what will be his next album, Mexican singer-songwriter Alfredo Olivas offers another preview with “Imaginación,” a norteño song with country elements that follows the same line of his “Asignatura Pendiente” released in February.

“That sound that has worked for us and that people like a lot is something that already distinguishes Alfredo Olivas’ music — and this song could not be the exception,” the artist tells Billboard Español. Announced as the focus track of his new LP, due out soon on Fonovisa/Universal Music, “Imaginación” debuts Thursday (July 11) at 8 p.m. ET and will be available here.

A little more than a decade into his career, Olivas has been consolidating himself as one of the most important singer-songwriters of the regional Mexican music scene. The artist from Sonora, Mexico has a resumé full of accomplishments, ranging from pioneering the corridos alterados, which predate the corridos tumbados and bélicos, to a score of Billboard‘s Regional Mexican Airplay chart entries, including three No. 1s: “El Problema,” “Yo Todo Lo Doy” and “No.”

In 2023, the 30-year-old singer became the highest-grossing artist in Mexico, with 71 sold-out dates in palenques, arenas and, for the first time, stadiums for a solo artist. He recently renewed his contract with Fonovisa Records-Universal Music, the company that has seen him grow professionally.

“Huge legends of Mexican music have been lost in recent years,” says Antonio Silva, managing director of Fonovisa-Disa U.S. & Mexico. “Who among the new phenomena of popularity will go on to establish themselves in far-reaching careers that will generate a legacy? It is clear to me that Alfredo Olivas will achieve that transcendence. In my perception, he has everything it takes: author of all his hits, unique lyrics and a way of performing that has forged his unique style.”

This year, Alfredo Olivas has embarked on a spectacular tour with banda-norteño star Julión Álvarez, Los Prófugos del Anexo, and for the first time in his career he recorded a duet with Alejandro Fernández, “Cobijas Ajenas,” which topped Billboard‘s Latin Airplay chart, giving Olivas his first overall Latin radio chart leader.

Below, Olivas talks to Billboard Español about this achievement and his big current career moment.

Your lyrics are generally about heartbreak — how do you get inspired if you are in a stable relationship?

It is enough to observe what happens to many people. I express that in my style, and fortunately I have connected with my audience.

In 2023 you were the artist with the most dates in the most important venues in Mexico, including stadiums. What did this mean to you?

It was a great satisfaction, because one dreams of those moments. At the same time, it is a commitment. I have fought hard to get to this point, so I have to take great care of the quality of what I give to the public. I always dreamed of seeing myself on stage like the most important artists. I love to see what’s new in terms of production. Sometimes we have to spend a lot of money — but it doesn’t matter if it’s so that regional Mexican music can be more colorful and of higher quality, and the world can see it that way.

Are you worried about the image of regional Mexican music in the world?

Completely. Sometimes it is annoying that we are wrongly labeled; there is a lot of talent and quality. In my case, I like to have everything in order, the sequences, the setlist — but without losing the essence of our genre, which is the mischievousness and improvisation.

You are a pioneer of a generation that fueled corridos around a decade ago. What do you think of the new stars?

I think it’s very good that there are so many talents. From my point of view, it is a positive thing that they are joining the cause. These new breakthroughs are a positive thing to continue the fight that began many years ago. When Grupo Firme began to break protocols, we could see a new positive era coming for everyone.

You don’t record collaborations often — how did the duet “Cobijas Ajenas” with Alejandro Fernández come about? Did you already know each other?

Of course, there has always been a lot of admiration on my part. Two or three years ago, I had the opportunity to meet him — and although it was my dream that he would record one of my songs, I never told him, I don’t like to force things. Time went by, and now through the record label (Universal Music), they proposed it to me and of course I said yes. The song is by maestro Espinoza Paz.

How did the idea of touring with Julión Álvarez come up if you are both so successful as solo artists?

There is a very special connection, and it shows on stage — we are great friends. He recorded one of my songs, “Sin Memoria,” and made it a big hit. People like us as a duo, the proof is that we have seven sold out shows so far in 2024.

You recently renewed your contract with Universal Music/Fonovisa Records, what makes you continue working with the company after a decade?

It’s just like a marriage relationship — like keeping promises to each other, setting goals and reaching them, loving and respecting each other. I think it is very healthy to leave certain things in the hands of experts, as in this case, the record label. In this way, the artist is dedicated to focus on making music.

Los Tigres del Norte have said that you are one of the young artists they respect because you preserve the traditional style of regional Mexican music. Would you also collaborate with them?

It would blow my mind — I am the first to raise my hand. If they would consider me it would be a tremendous achievement. And now that you mention it, of course we are going to look for that opportunity.

Last year you recorded for the first time a song that you didn’t write, “Ni Con Labios Prestados,” and it was a big hit on streaming platforms. Why did you decide to do it?

The songwriter Aarón “El Pantera” Martínez is one of those who I admire the most — and the truth is that we didn’t know each other personally, only on Instagram. But he knew, as a good poet, to write me with the right words. I listened to it, and from the first moment I liked it. To this day it is one of the most requested songs in my show.

Have you thought about recording more songs by other composers?

It happened with “Ni Con Labios Prestados,” and now with Alejandro Fernández. But I’m not going to lie to you, I have set goals for myself, and one of them is to have my own catalog. I deeply admire Joan Sebastian, Juan Gabriel and Marco Antonio Solís, they are my example to follow as singer-songwriters.

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