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Prince Royce Discusses English Album, Video Game Addiction + the Return of Romantic Music

Prince Royce
Alex Kirzhner / Atlantic Records

Last year, Prince Royce exploded onto the Latin music scene with a chart-topping bachata remake of ‘Stand By Me’ and a self-titled debut album that earned double-platinum status.

Now, the 22-year-old is prepping two new records — another recording in Spanish and his first English album, both likely to drop in 2012. In the meantime, Royce is on tour with Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull, performers who have established a blueprint for becoming superstars in both the Spanish- and English-speaking worlds.

Prince Royce gave PopCrush a call from Toronto, where he was planning to take the stage for another sold-out show on Iglesias’ Euphoria tour, for a conversation about his rise from cell-phone salesman to acclaimed recording artist.

Have you been able to spend a lot of time hanging out with your tourmates, Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias?
Definitely. It’s a real honor for me to be on this tour. Enrique and Pitbull are guys that have been singing and making hits for such a long time and they’ve traveled the world as international artists, so for me, it’s truly an honor and it’s a big learning experience.

It’s my first time doing large venues like this, with such a big crowd and so much energy. I’m learning so much from the guys by just hanging out with them. They’ve shown me so much as far as what an artist should be, the dedication, the sacrifices and the hard work behind the cameras.

On ‘Lopez Tonight,’ Enrique said you were the crazy one on this tour.
[Laughs] He was just joking! Everybody knows Pitbull’s the crazy one on the tour. We have this joke where we say that I’m the crazy one, Pitbull’s the calm one, and Enrique’s the one in between. But it’s really the opposite.

Do you ever get nervous on stage?
No … Before this, I had done a smaller tour on my own, 2,000 and 3,000 seat venues. This is the first time I’ve done 15,000-20,000 person venues, but no, I don’t get nervous. I’ve had time now to gain some trust within myself and, like I said, the guys are cool and they make me really comfortable when it comes to performance and work.

At this point, I don’t think I’m the best at it — I think there’s still so much for me to learn — but I don’t get nervous anymore. Last year, I sang at the Latin Grammys with Ben E. King. We sang ‘Stand By Me’ together and that was very nerve-wracking for me [laughs]. So it depends on the situation, I guess.

Watch Prince Royce Perform ‘Stand By Me’ At the Latin Grammys with Ben E. King

How did that duet with Ben E. King come together?
Well, while we were making my Latin album, we decided it would be cool to do a cover of an oldie and I chose ‘Stand By Me.’ I basically did ‘Stand by Me’ in bachata with some Latin flavor and some Spanish in it, and the song took off to No. 1. The Grammy committee decided to call Ben E. King and see if he wanted to do the duet together, and he said yes. For me, it was such a big honor. I would have never thought that I was going to be able to sing it with Ben E. King himself. It was a great experience. He’s a super-humble guy, and it was awesome being able to share the stage with him.

You’re working on your first English-language album. Musically, does it sound the same as your previous material, or is the style a little different?
It’s different. It’s basically English pop. We launched a song called ‘Addicted,’ which is now on iTunes. It’s an R&B ballad, a very deep, romantic song. It’s not even the first single — we just launched it so people could get the idea of what’s coming. We’re most likely going to drop the official first single by the end of the year.

But the sound is definitely going to be English pop, maybe some Latin in it, but still commercial and romantic. I think that recently, there’s been so much dance going on and so much club music, and I kinda want to bring back something really romantic.

Can you tell us about ‘Addicted?’ Who did you work with on that one and what was the inspiration for it?
I worked with Nasri and the Messengers, who are the guys that did some of Justin Bieber’s stuff like ‘Never Say Never’ [and] some of Chris Brown’s stuff like ‘Next 2 You.’ We knew this was not going to be the first single, so we said, “Let’s put out something really deep, something really emotional.” It’s about cuddling Sunday morning with the girl, and it’s a very romantic love song, like one of those songs that you want to hear in a movie [laughs]. I think it’s a great song for people to get an idea of who Prince Royce is and what’s coming on the English record.

Listen to ‘Addicted’

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You’ve been honored by the Billboard Latin Awards and the Latin Grammys. How much do those honors help in terms of giving you extra credibility as you take your music to a new audience?
I think it gives me credibility, but at the end of the day, I’m still a brand-new artist when it comes to English music. So I recognize that I still need to give it all I’ve got and still work hard to be recognized on the English pop side. I’ve been Grammy-nominated, I won four Billboard Latin Awards and it’s a great feeling to know that my song hit No. 1 and my album went double-platinum, but I’m a brand-new artist just like any other artist that’s starting off. So I’m down to continue working and continue doing the interviews and continue doing the radio. I know what it is to wake up at 5 in the morning and do a TV show. I know exactly what that is from my previous album, so I’m definitely looking forward to working hard.

You were working for a cell phone company and studying to be a teacher. How did you end up going from that into a successful music career?
I’ve always known that I wanted to sing, but I guess it was always a Plan B. I was working full-time selling cell phones and I was a full-time student in college studying to be an English teacher. So it would be 7AM at work, finish at 7PM. At 9, I would do night school and finish at about 10:30, and then I would hit the studio at midnight. I paid for my own demo. I spent a few thousand dollars creating my demo and investing in myself. There were a lot of people that said, “Man, you’re crazy, spending all this money.” But it was a sacrifice that I did for myself. And finally, the work paid off.

Eventually, I bumped into Sergio George, who’s the president of Top Stop Music, and we started working on the Latin album, and since then everything took off. It’s really a success story. I’m a kid from the Bronx, I’ve always had a lot of dreams, and I decided to stay positive and believe in myself. And I’m here now, touring with Enrique Iglesias, and I met President Obama. I sang the Star-Spangled Banner for the Hispanic Caucus. So many things have happened that I would have never imagined and that just comes from a dream that I had years ago.

What are your passions outside of music?
I love video games! I travel with my Xbox and a 22-inch HD tv wherever I go. I’m into music, I’m into movies, I love hanging out with my family, but video games are a way for me to stay in touch with my cousins and stay in touch with my friends when we’re playing online. It’s a way of just forgetting about everything.

I do other things like skateboarding, snowboarding, jet skiing. I just went skydiving two weeks ago, so I like adventure. I love exciting stuff [laughs].

Watch the Prince Royce ‘Addicted’ Video

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