April 5, 2008 / 3:51 AM / 12 years ago

Latin songwriter/producer releases solo disc

MIAMI (Billboard) - Tommy Torres is known in the music industry as a prolific songwriter and producer for the likes of Ricky Martin and Jaci Velasquez.

Puerto Rican artist and producer Tommy Torres arrives at the 2006 Latin Recording Academy "Person of The Year" event honoring Ricky Martin in New York November 1, 2006. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

But many don’t know Torres the artist, a singer/songwriter whose solo career has been set aside by his success in other areas.

Now, in the wake of the April 1 release of his third solo album, “Tarde o Temprano,” Torres is banking on a new record label — Warner Music Latina — a new sound and a more open-minded radio scene to really get his voice heard.

“From a certain point of view, I’m starting from scratch, but I feel the industry already knows me, and radio is opening the doors to me far more than before,” Torres says, speaking from his home in Puerto Rico.

“And I’m glad it’s been that way because I have more to offer on this album than on my past ones. The elements I’m bringing in this time, as a Latin and as a Puerto Rican, have much more personality than the things I did in the past, which were more traditional pop/rock.”

Torres’ first single, “Pegadito,” has yet to enter Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart, although the song is getting airplay in Puerto Rico and on pop-driven FM radio networks like Exa and Superestrella.

Warner Music Latino marketing director Albert Ramirez says the label’s initial target is a younger demo, one that is perhaps more attuned to the Internet than to radio. Warner will soon upload behind-the-scenes webisodes with Torres to YouTube.

“He already has a name,” Ramirez says. “Now, we’re trying to make sure people know his face.”

Torres came to Miami in 2000 as a Berklee College of Music graduate looking for a record deal as a singer/songwriter. He was signed by Sony Discos, but almost immediately, his demos drew attention from other artists on the label’s roster.

While Torres’ self-titled 2001 debut sold 15,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, his compositions and productions for others — including Velasquez, MDO and Ricardo Arjona — became mega hits.

However, Torres says, he doesn’t see his career as a composer and a producer as hindrance to his solo endeavors. “I simply saw it as, it was in the stars to happen this way and you have to go with the flow,” he says.

Torres’ second album, 2004’s “Estar de Moda No Esta De Moda,” came out on indie Ole Records. For the following four years, his prominence as a songwriter/producer rose and acquired new visibility thanks to “Tu Recuerdo,” a song he co-wrote and performed for Ricky Martin’s “Unplugged” album.

“Tarde o Temprano,” which Torres co-produced with guitarist Dan Warner and drummer Lee Levin, follows in that song’s vein in that it incorporates Puerto Rican rhythms but also inserts quirky instrumentation and arrangements, from classically minded cellos to touches of electronica.

“When I write for others, the artist is usually looking for a single,” Torres says. “When I write for me, I take more risks. Not every song has to be a single, and I use the entire album.”


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