There are very few superstars quite at the level of Jorge Blanco. Maybe it's the fact that a fortuitous acting audition led to a starring role in High School Musical: La Selectión, which planted the seed for a starring role in the Disney telenovela Violetta. Maybe it's the fact that he sings, writes music, dances, is multi-lingual, and plays guitar, drums, and piano. Or maybe it's just his ridiculously good looks. Whatever it is, Jorge Blanco has garnered exceptional love and loyalty from millions of fans across the globe, and counting.
While he is by no means "undiscovered" by fans, Jorge Blanco exemplifies a Ones To Watch artist–as the musical side of his career is just getting started. In 2017, fans witnessed a shift of focus to his upcoming solo debut album, as Jorge moved to Los Angeles to fully immerse himself in creating a multi-faceted pop sound and preparing his live show. With with two singles (“Risky Business” and “Summer Soul”) released thus far, and "40-something songs ready to go," we are fully on board for the ride as Blanco follows his true passion of music.
Get to know more about Jorge Blanco's shift from acting to music, what we can expect this year, and his extreme dislike for sparkling water in our Q&A below. Plus, get a taste of what's to come in his live show with a special All Eyes On performance on the way–stay tuned!
OTW: Let's start back in the beginning! Where were you born, and what was your upbringing like?
JB: I'm from Guadalajara, Mexico. Since I have memory, music has always been my passion. I sing since I can. I grabbed a guitar when I was 5 because my aunt’s a musician, I asked her to start teaching me. Then I was a regular kid going to school. When I was in high school, I was like, I don't want to freak out and be crazy with "what am I going to do with my life?" I'll just wait and take my time to think about it, and when I finish high school make a decision about what I want to do.
An audition came up for a reality show for Disney Channel and I was like, "I got nothing to lose. I'll go and try." I got in and since then, I've been non-stop working with a bunch of stuff, most of it acting, but all musical. It's always been surrounded by music, and that's why I've been loving it so much. Plus, I love acting too. Now I've got the opportunity to do my own thing as a solo artist which has been my dream, and here I am right now.
OTW: How did you know that now is the time I'm going to full time pursue music versus acting?
JB: It felt natural. I was doing this other show for Disney Latin America/ Europe and I was already, in the show, feeling this urge to do something. I always wanted to find a way. I knew my thing was to start doing my own music. I just didn't know how.
How? Where? When? I think that's the thing that happens to every artist. You can't control it. I was like, "what am I going to do?" Should I keep doing this show? Should I leave and start looking for my own thing? I followed my heart, and it felt right to finish the show, because the show ended and we finished the movie. And then thanks to the show, I got closer to people at Hollywood [Records]. I got to meet them, and they said, we're interested in working with you," and I thought this might be it. It naturally fell into place. I just went with the flow, and it's working so far, and it brought me here to LA.
OTW: What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
JB: A little bit of everything. I've always been a big fan of all the pop culture. Funny thing is I actually grew up with a lot of English music. My dad is a big fan of Queen, R.E.M., all that stuff. Especially Queen, that's definitely one of the English singing bands that I grew up listening to. All that passion of rock n' roll, to have fun, and to share what you love and what you feel. That was my influence in music a little bit. I take a little bit of everything. Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson.
OTW: Are you going to continue acting too?
JB: Definitely. Right now I'm more focused on music, but I'm still hoping for acting gigs. Even in the US now, it'll be a new challenge for me, because I've never done anything here. I've been doing auditions, so anytime something comes up, and we're able to match schedules with both things, I'd be happy to do it.
OTW: How have your fans reacted to seeing you switch from one to the other?
JB: Pretty good actually. They are growing up with me. My fans are the best. They are so loyal. They've been following me all these years. Some of them have been following me since 10 years ago since all the Disney shows started. I think all the social media helps them to feel closer to you and really get to know you instead of whatever character you're doing on a TV show. That's definitely a great tool for everyone, for them and for me, to have that communication to learn who I am, what I want to do, and they totally support that. I appreciate it so much, so every time I can, I try to give them that appreciation back.
OTW: How has the transition from foreign to American markets been?
JB: I've gotten used to it. I lived in Argentina for 4 years, so I got to know the experience of living in another place with other people. Even language because in Argentina, they have a different way to talking, different slang and you have to adapt to it and learn how to live in it. You grow up as a person too. I moved to Argentina when I was 19. Since then, I was really independent, by myself, living in an apartment, in another country. I learned so much with all that. I think it feels natural.
Plus, I'm always embracing the fact that I'm Mexican, and I think that's a cool thing to share wherever you go. What I like about LA too is how big of a mix of everything we have here. There's people from all over the world doing the same thing I'm doing. I love that mix of culture and art. Plus, it's so close to home. It was so hard when I was in Argentina because it was an 8-10 hour flight. Now it's a 3 hour flight. If I feel homesick, I just take a flight, take a weekend, and come back. Even food–here I can find more Mexican food because it's so full of Mexicans. I'm like, "I'll go find some tacos! Why not?"
OTW: What is something you've learned about yourself through this process?
JB: That's deep. A lot of things. I've had to change a lot of things for myself because the more you grow up, the more you realize all your strengths, your weaknesses, what you'll be better at. Definitely all this business has helped me to open up a lot more even about my personal life. I was really shy when I was a kid. Super, super shy. I never had big problems, but I was not able to express myself all the time.
Right now, this job throws you out there to the world and is like "hey, you've got to handle this." That helped me be more confident about myself, be confident about not being afraid to say whatever I want to say, do whatever I want to do. It's hard for me to be mean, or rude to anybody, but before it used to get to a point where I stopped looking out for myself. I was too worried about making people feel ok, but what about me? This world is helping me to be, not more rude, but more confident about what I want to do and what I don't, and my music too is a great way to express myself. Say what I want to say and people hear it. I think that's cool.
OTW: Speaking of your music, why did you choose to kick everything off with "Risky Business?" What was the process with that song and creating it?
JB: The cool thing about this song is it's been a process of almost 2 years now working on music trying to find what was going to be my sound. We'd been looking around, writing, producing, working with a bunch of people, and "Risky Business" definitely felt right to be a song that has something different and unique in it instead of being, "okay, we just launched a pop song." A pop song could mean so many things because pop means a mix of whatever most people are listening to. So we found this cool mix of old school, new school, funk, rock, pop, which I love. "Risky Business" felt right, risky but right.
OTW: I see what you did there [laughs]. How about "Summer Soul?" What was the process for that one?
JB: I think it goes along with the "Risky Business" vibe. "Risky Business" is a little bit more funk, old school, and "Summer Soul" is in the middle of that and pop. It feels right to do that. Plus, we have a bunch of different styles in the rest of the music, so I think "Summer Soul" shows a little bit of that difference. It felt right to show that we have a big range of styles in the music. "Summer Soul" feels really good now that summer's here. Let's make it a hit, hopefully!
OTW: How has it been so far?
JB: Good! The response has been great. Of course the fans are super happy with it. They are the best. I've heard a lot of good comments. I heard some people on the radio are excited about it, and I'm going to go meet them on this radio tour. Hopefully it gets better!
OTW: What can we expect in terms of music coming out this year?
JB: I think the audience is going to make the call on the plan. We have the next song ready, but I think the audience is going to pick what they want to do. They want more music? We're going to feel that. If we ever feel the need of putting out an EP, or maybe rush the album, we might end up doing it. It depends on them, because music is ready to go. We have 40-something songs. We're going step by step, little by little, and not rushing to see how it works. We're ready to go.
OTW: How about shows?
JB: Ready to go too. Not long ago, I put together a band, which is an amazing band. We already made a set list of six songs, which is a lot. Five of my songs and one cover. We tried it in a showcase, and it turned out great. I just can't wait for this to happen– to go out there and have people see my music. Even though we don't have songs released, we are ready to build a show. We have those six songs but we have material to do an hour show and more. So I can't wait to go on the road.
OTW: What other instruments are in your band?
JB: A drummer, keyboard player, bass player, and a guitar player. So it's definitely a band. In the pop world, you have a lot more production, maybe DJ sounds, and we're trying to translate everything into more band style–more energy. You feel it instead. Karaoke, no!
OTW: As you know, the blog is Ones to Watch. Who are some up and coming artists that you like?
JB: I'm that guy that's always looking for new music. There's a really good artist, but I don't think he's that new–Jack Garratt. I like his style. He's one of those artists–You hear them on the record, and you're like, "that's good." You hear them live, and you're like, "Oh my god." He tripled.
Also my friend Saak. He's my new friend. I like the fact that now Latin, urban, are mixing with American pop, and he's definitely one to watch. He has that Latin music meets pop music vibe. We just worked together and collaborating, so maybe you'll hear that soon too. Something Spanish!
OTW: What is one thing that fans don't know about you?
JB: Hmmm, I like any kind of food, but I don't like sparkling water. Once I was in a concert in Italy, and they usually have bottles, and I got out and opened a bottle, but it was sparkling water, and I shot it because I was so thirsty. I was like, "why would someone put sparkling water in a show?" I get if you like it, but don't put it in a show! I feel like it's supposed to have no flavor, but it has some kind of flavor weird thing with the gas! I've given it a try before, more than once!
OTW: Lastly, want to shout out to the fans?
JB: Just to let them know, I'm as anxious as they are with everything: music, shows. I'm ready.