Mau y Ricky Talk Returning to Venezuela Ahead of ‘Hotel Caracas’ Release: ‘I Can’t Say Enough About the Love We Felt’

When Mau and Ricky Montaner returned to Venezuela last year after an almost-10-year absence, they both admit they were a little worried.

“Ricky and I were really anxious,” says Mau, before Ricky chimes in, “When we left [Venezuela], our cousins and our best friends stayed behind. They always told us, ‘Oh, you’re no longer Venezuelans. You’re gringos.’ And that was really our identity. So we felt a lot of those nerves. When they opened the doors to the plane and I stuck my head out, and I saw the girls who came with the wheelchairs get all excited, I thought, ‘OK. We’re good.’”

The three-month stay was an essential part of the adventure of creating Hotel Caracas, the brothers’ new album, scheduled for release in July. Two singles, “Pasado Mañana” and “Vas a Destrozarme” have already been released. Overall, the project will feature 16 songs, along with corresponding music videos and a documentary, as it highlights the brothers in a different musical light. This time around, they’re working with entirely acoustic arrangements, leaning more pop and using a lot of horns and brass, working with producer Malay Ho, known for his work with artists like Frank Ocean. The album was created as a tribute to the brothers’ native Venezuela. Going back, they say, was a “personal purpose.”

“We found ourselves in a country that, despite having a complicated situation, […] I can’t say enough about the love we felt from the people and the sense of belonging that one has in one’s land,” says Ricky.

“People talk a lot, but everything they say is about the negative,” adds Mau on the topic of Venezuela. “We want to help continue having the conversations that have been had, but also, we want people to remember how extraordinary the music of my country is, the cinema in my country and the culture in general. People are desperate for this to happen.”

Mau and Ricky Montaner have been musical adventurers for as long as they can remember. Born three years apart (Mau is 30, Ricky is 33), the brothers have been making music together since they were children and have experimented a lot along the way, trying out sounds ranging from urban pop songwriting to many cross-genre mashups of their songs – from reggaeton to tropical.

Dressed in their own version of gray suits (shorts instead of pants and Converse high tops), the brothers spoke with Billboard about Hotel Caracas, their trip to Venezuela and, of course, the series Los Montaner.

Watch the full interview above.

Leila Cobo