We recently had to catch up with writer and musical superstar Roger Ortega, and the conversation was amazing. We get to hear all about his most recent project, The Lottery, and what else he has in store now that the music is pumping out consistently again. Check out the exclusive below!
Thank you so much. You have so much going on. Obviously, your progression is something to be noted. I love what you’re doing. This is especially good because we work to promote and push independent acts, so in that respect, there’s so much to talk about. It would be good to start with what brought you into music. I know you’ve been here…
It’s funny man. Long story short, I was born into a musical family. I didn’t want to do what my dad’s band was doing, but I listened to them practice. I knew this was what I wanted. At 14, I put together a group with my cousin and another guy. We changed members and names, but maintained the R&B and Pop feel. Eventually, we got a record deal.
Almost like a new edition…lol
Right. And New Kids on the Block played a big factor. One morning I saw them on TV, and was like who are these guys. Being a solo artists as a kid, I felt like I’d have more support with a couple other guys on stage. Eventually, some faded away, and I found more guys. We got a deal in Kansas and moved to New York. Universal was buying out everybody. We got locked into this deal where they just wouldn’t do anything with us. We eventually got out of that deal. By age 24, I said I was done. I went on about my life, but would write more for the love of it. Through a random series of events, at 37 I got a deal. I started off as a writer, and eventually they wanted a record. I quit at age 24 because I thought I was too old. How would it be at 37? I reluctantly said yes, and it ended up being number 62 on iTunes. I kept at it, and worked on a second album. The Lottery came out last year, and hit number 8. There’s so many good songs on the album, and you learn from your mistakes. You put all this work into an album, and you are to let it breathe. With the new single, The Worst Hangover, it’s actually a remix to the album’s first single. It’s doing pretty well. Not the same rules as an independent artist. You don’t necessarily have to do something new every year. You can work with what you have.
Now that you’re independent, how does it feel, having been with a major before? I see a lot of artists who don’t do well in the transition. Many artists don’t realize the level of work. How has it been for you?
I hate being told what to do, and am a lot less motivated when I am told what to do. So it’s one of those things where I’m in control. Failure or success comes back to me. My team is amazing, but they’re name is not the brand. If it doesn’t work out, it’s on me. I can sit with a little more pride when things go good.
I think it’s cool. What you have is hot and in so many ways, you break the stereotypes, and break the color lines. What has been your experience with connecting with other artists? I turn 40 this year, so I appreciate the fact that you pay respect to the artists before you of our era. I find it so funny that because of this new edition movie, our kids know all about New Edition now. My son is ten and is so enamored with Cool it Now like it just dropped yesterday…lol.
I think that has driven the direction of my music and where it comes from. Like you, I grew up on all that. It’s infused in my DNA. The Lottery album pays homage to a lot of those artists, and has a 90s appeal. That was one of the biggest things. I definitely wanted to be taken serious with this, but I knew my fanbase was 28+, and people who knew that era. That’s what was so cool.
I also think it’s cool because a big part of me misses that era. I make it a point to look back and connect with artists of that era now with the magazine. I like to be able to show what these artists are doing now, and how they impacted music. The blessing is I get to connect with my favorites, the ones who don’t get the respect. As far as shows go, what have your shows and tours looked like? Are you doing a lot of shows?
Yea, I have been. My last show will be in New Mexico. The last few months, I’ve had shows in New York, Miami, and so on. The shows have been great. One of my favorite shows was a tribute to George Michael.
Awesome. I grew up listening to him in Wham, and so much of his music.
He was one of the first to really cross over to R&B and radio play. I can remember hearing him on Hot 97. He had a lot of respect for R&B and Soul, and vice versa. I respect how he rode that line, and was one of the first major stars to cross over. I released a cover of Father Figure a few months ago along with a video. The video was to tie into the next video. That and The Worst Hangover is like a series. It was a cool concept.
I saw the father figure video, and I heard the single first on reverbnation. What are your plans moving forward and progressing?
What I feel like right now; someone asked me when the third album was coming. I don’t think I’m in a place emotionally to do a third album. I’m just writing right now. When something hits me emotionally, I’ll do a third album. With The Lottery, it was a lot of start and stop. I immediately went to work on the second album, but the owner of my independent label passed away and the label shut down. I lost a lot with that first album. All the stuff I had before was good, but not as good as this album. My dad developed cancer in the process and passed away as I started on the second half of the album. That gave me a lot for the album. I wrote three songs on the plane back from his funeral. One of those is Never Forget, which was a tribute for my dad. I also wrote The Worst Hangover, which is about losing someone and how you feel. I changed it to be more about losing a girl, but I pulled the pain from losing my dad. I also wrote a song called Put It On Me. Through darkness comes light and that’s where that came from. My plan moving forward is to work on singles and get as many people to hear my projects.
What else is to come for people to look out for?
There’s a song I’ll be working on for a project that my fans had been inquiring about. I can’t say much about it yet. I’m working on a song with another guy which will eat up a lot of time. Two guys from my group joined me for the George Michael show. I put up a video of us practicing Careless Whispers, and they agreed to do an album. That’s down the road, but right now, I’m focusing on me. I have to get to the Grammys, one way or another, even if I got to work the door [laughing].
Where can people check you out online?
Everything is at rogerortega.com. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
I look forward to your upcoming projects. You clearly love the music so much that you’re still here. I appreciate having the opportunity to connect with you. I feel like you’re breaking barriers. Thank you.
Thank you. I appreciate telling my story.