Blue Rojo is a musical volcano of queer desire

By Lucas Villa

red blue leaves a colorful mark on Latin pop music. As the Mexican-American singer continues to take the genre to new places by fusing seemingly disparate elements of electronica and punk with reggaeton, he’s also pushing the boundaries as an openly gay musician. Seeking to find himself after a few years of fleeting fame, Blue’s authenticity as an artist led him to sign with Universal Music Group last year. After releasing an album about being in love with a straight man, he continues to stay true to himself with his latest single “Soya Tu Payaso Papi 3000.”

“It’s a dream to sing about gay love,” Blue told MTV on Zoom from his home in Mexico City. “It’s so hot. It’s super passionate. It makes me feel alive. It’s what I am. I sing what I am.”

Before becoming one of Mexico’s freshest new voices, Blue Rojo was born Santiago Ogarrio in San Diego, California. As a child, he grew up in the border town of Tijuana, where he was able to embrace the pop culture of both United States. and Mexico. Blue quotes MTV NMT as the basis of his musical influences. “I was super inspired by MTV, the whole top 10 countdown,” he recalled with a smile. “I watched it the whole time.” Among his favorite artists were Britney Spears, Evanescence, Avril Lavigne and Korn. On the Latin side, he listened to campy band Kabah, Spanish pop star Belinda and electro-pop trio Belanova. “I love all the pop glamor of what a pop artist is,” he says. “It’s beautiful and it’s plastic, and I like that.”

Blue moved to Mexico City with his family when he was 11, and then found his first opportunity to fulfill his dream of becoming a musician. After The voice Having become a ratings juggernaut in 2011, international franchises have sprung up around the world, including in Mexico. In 2013 he tried for The Voz. For his first unaired audition, he says producers forced him to sing “Me Enamora” by Juanes, which resulted in no famous trainer selecting him for their team. When Blue was invited back to audition three days later, he told them, “Of course, but I’ll choose my song.” His acoustic version of Don Omar’s reggaeton classic “Salio El Sol” won over the Puerto Rican duo Wisin y Yandel.

Although he went far in the competition and enjoyed the experience, Blue says he couldn’t quite be who he was when he appeared on TV. “I had gone out with my family before but I was always a little afraid to say it on the show,” he adds. Blue also found that his initial fame, bolstered by The Voz, was to be more of a recognizable face on TV than with his actual talent. He left Mexico City for Guadalajara after a friend invited him there. “I was a little depressed,” Blue admits. “It was like a shock for who I am. I started to do some introspection with myself to start knowing who I really am and what I mean. That’s where I started my creation artistry of Blue Rojo.”

With a new perspective after spending a year in Guadalajara, he returned to Mexico City to make Blue Rojo a reality. “I’m this misunderstood, super mystical gay boy in my fantasy,” he says of the concept behind his moniker. (The Spanglish name reflects his bicultural influences from Mexico and the United States) In 2019, Blue began independently releasing music that delved into queer identity through euphoric electro-pop tracks like “Ninaboy” and “Babe“Infused Reggaeton”Soy Tu Payaso Papiwas his most iconic video as he turned into a clown because of his crush on a straight man. “I want to be free with this project,” Blue says. “I love homosexuality. I think it’s a beautiful thing. In every way, I think everyone should love who they are. I like it and I want to keep it to myself because life is short.”

Adrian Fierro

“Soy Tu Payaso Papi” caught the eye of Mexico City-based A&R Diego Urdaneta, who assembled a team of musicians like Ulises Hadjis from Venezuela and Diego Raposo from the Dominican Republic to work with Blue on his debut album, Lonely. Across the 12 tracks, Blue delves deeper into the pain and rejection of his unrequited queer crush on this straight guy. Urdaneta toured the album with various labels before Universal signed Blue. “You have to trust your instincts as much as you can,” Blue says of making the album. “You have to believe in yourself. You have to take the risk too. I felt really good that they liked the album. It was a dream.”

In November 2021, Universal released Blue’s Lonely just like the label execs heard before signing him. His operatic voice rises through all the genres he mixed in the LP. On “Despues of the Pandemic Volví a Ser Católiko“Blue reconciles his religious upbringing with a magnetic crush. Through booming electronica, he cries out to God, Jesus and the Virgin Mary for guidance. In swaggering reggaeton”Eslabón de Bonbon“Blue feels like ‘puto,’ his recovery of the queer slur in Spanish. ‘I love the word and still want to use it,’ Blue says. ‘I felt like I was on fire when I was singing that song, like a volcano.”

Earlier this year, Blue fulfilled one of her high school fantasies through her music video for “No Te Kiero Olvidar.” On the soccer field, he sings the synthpop anthem with eyes for the team captain. After the two get comfortable, they share an on-screen kiss. “It was very cathartic,” Blue says. “It was also a healing process. At school, I was very shy and reserved. I was very depressed, so doing this makes me let go. Now I know I put it there. I expressed what I felt.”

Along with releasing a revamped “Soy Tu Payaso Papi 3000” this month, Blue previewed their upcoming single “La Foto x Whatsapp,” which will be released in July. In the dembow-focused dance floor, he sings about finding out via Whatsapp that the guy he’s seeing has a girlfriend. “This song is more fun,” Blue says. “I like pop drama.” Towards the end, a sample of Belanova”Leftemerges. “I was one of those kids who listened to Belanova, and now having them on my song, it’s super beautiful,” he adds. In the next futuristic clip, Blue walks around town holding a motorcyclist. from Rosalia Motomami, maybe? He says with a laugh: “Great Motopapi vibe.”

With Rosalía, Blue would like to collaborate with artists like Frank Ocean, Charli XCX, Grimes, Bad Bunny, Karol G, Björk and, of course, Britney. With plans for more singles to come this year, he is already hard at work on his second album. “I love being Blue Rojo from now on at this point in my life,” he says. “I want to make a bit of a controversial album with a pop concept. I want to be an artist with a voice. I want to keep talking about concepts that are very personal but also matter in society.”

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