The Industry Voted Him ‘Best New Artist’ — and Then Moved On. Now Sie7e Is Making a Comeback
In 2011, Sie7e —the prolific singer-songwriter from Puerto Rico — was on top of the world.
An independent artist known for feel-good songs, he began getting attention after releasing a well-received self-titled album in 2006. Soon, labels like Universal Music and Warner Music Latina were knocking on his door — and then, following the success of his breakthrough hit “Tengo Tu Love,” he was up for one of the Latin Grammys’ most coveted awards: Best New Artist. He won, beating out acts like Pablo Alborán and Il Volo, his golden statue physical proof of just how much promise the industry had placed on him.
However, the music business can be fickle. Latin music tastes are constantly changing, and Sie7e didn’t want to jump onto a trend that was inauthentic to him. He didn’t want to write music just to create another hit and eventually parted ways with his label. Success faded away almost as quickly as it had come, and so did many of his opportunities as an artist. He struggled for years, ending up so broke his family lost their home. When debt collectors from his bank visited, they were shocked to see that it was Sie7e who was in a financial bind. Sie7e was so crushed that he lost his drive to continue making music and decided to disappear.
“I was going downhill at the moment with nothing left,” says Sie7e, whose real name is David Rodríguez Labault. “Everything was in turmoil: my relationships, my finances, down the drain.”
Sie7e could have become just another artist who fades into obscurity, but about three years ago, he got a life-changing call. It was from the Latin alternative producer Eduardo Cabra, a former member of the beloved alt-reggaeton group Calle 13 who has worked with Tom Morello, Rubén Blades, and Shakira. He invited Sie7e to collaborate on some behind-the-scenes work, which included writing music for other artists and for TV commercials. Sie7e was later enlisted to write on Cabra’s self-titled 2021 EP, which opened the door for Sie7e to start making his own music again. Eventually, they had a gleaming EP called El Día Antes del Día — and it was so impressive it caught the attention of Eric Duars, who manages superstar Rauw Alejandro.
“It was just a series of people that kind of rescued me in a way because I had already decided to kill the identity of Sie7e,” he says.
El Día Antes del Día is a cathartic gem that takes Sie7e’s minimalist sound and pushes it into the future, blending elements of urbano music without compromising Sie7e’s style. He reflects on his struggles in the heartfelt title track, which includes trap-lite beats. “Without saying words, I collapsed and learned that laughing and crying are the same in any language,” he sings in Spanish. On the breezy track “Layback,” he and PJ Sin Suela launch into playful lyrics about lighting up a blunt and enjoying the view. “There’s a joy in this album, in these recordings that is very real,” he adds. The empowering “Yo No Sé Bailar” is emblematic of Sie7e’s outlook of living in the moment.
“This EP for me is a ‘Holy shit! I’m back,’” Sie7e says. It’s emblematic of how much he’s seizing a new opportunity to do what he wants. “I was already on my way out,” he says. “They were like, ‘You want to come back?’ And I was like, ‘Hell yeah! I want to come back.’”
How does it feel to return to the scene as Sie7e with this EP?
I’m grateful. I kind of gave up on the idea of Sie7e myself because I didn’t believe in it for a while. I joke around with my friends that Sie7e is a zombie because it came back. It was rescued initially by some close friends and family. First, it was Eduardo [Cabra], and then three years later, Eric [Duars]. When Eric told me, “Show me what you got,” I had stuff produced by Cabra to show. It sounds fucking dope. I think [Eric] intuitively knew that if you put my project under the right light, it will shine well. He probably won’t admit it, but I know there’s a part of him that loves me and that he wanted to help out a friend.
In the song “El Día Antes del Día,” there are elements of trap beats. What was the experience like to blend urbano music into your sound?
I always loved those sounds. I actually tried to experiment with them in my previous albums, and I don’t care to admit that I kind of failed miserably at it many times, to the point where I had abandoned it a little bit and went then more towards the more organic stuff. That’s why I did the album Gaia in 2020. The budget was $14,000 that my dad loaned me, and we did it in the studio where we rehearsed. I mixed it myself, and we were jamming to it. It was mostly improvised — the album that you do where you don’t care about pleasing anyone else. It came from that, all organic, without embellishments or corrections.
And Cabra brings this sophistication and this cleanliness and this purity. Everything, like where he places the microphones, is so carefully thought out. He was the one that told me, “Here are the sounds, and we have to do it like this.” For me, that was amazing. There were things that I’ve always wanted to use, and I never dared to do so. I liked that it was him that pushed the button to use these big sounds while not losing the grace of all the live instruments.
Throughout the rest of the EP, you bring feel-good vibes, like with the song “Yo No Sé Bailar.” What does it mean to you to inspire people with your music?
I’m grateful because music makes me feel better. I understand it’s not about me. Every time I get on a stage, or if I’m going to record something, I feel a bit nervous. That’s ego thinking, “How am I going to look? Am I going to do it right? Are they going to like me? Am I going to be accepted?” I crushed that, and I remind myself it’s about the moment. It’s about the music connecting. It’s about us connecting. It’s about the people. So you play your part. Sometimes, your part is the dude with the guitar and the microphone, and that’s a fucking cool part to play, so play it graciously and gratefully, and do the best you can, but feel it. It’s about the moment and it’s a beautiful reminder, so when people feel that amazingly when they click to me, I’m just honored to have been part of that process in which people connected to music like that.
“Tengo un Love” remains one of your biggest hits. What do you think about that song continuing to connect with people?
It’s a beautiful thing that people still connect to it. That song, although it’s filled with innocence and a past version of myself that I still love and definitely don’t identify with in many ways, it came from a real place. It clicked in a very real way with people back then and still now. It’s a wonderful thing that it has so many views, and it’s been covered so many times. It became one of those songs that maybe 50 years from now people still sing it, but nobody remembers who wrote it, and that would be a beautiful thing to happen.
It’s been 17 years since you released your first album. What have you learned about yourself in those years of ups and downs?
I have learned that a lot of people have recovered from failure, but few people recover from success. I had what I thought was success following “Tengo un Love.” I was filled with insecurities. I know I was talented, but my imposter syndrome was high at that moment. That song put me on a path to see I was not ready for many things that were presented to me back then, and that’s why they just disappeared. It was a major lesson to go through different record labels, to go through different experiences, and to feel that I was the one that fucked up, and to feel that I was fooled and stolen from, having gone through all those phases and living through all those characters. Now I’m back from not caring. It’s not that I don’t care. I’m eternally grateful now for this opportunity. Whatever happens, if it ends tomorrow, this is really awesome. I’m appreciating life from a way different point of view. To me, it’s a beautiful ride now.
What do you want to achieve next in your career?
I want to see how far we can go with this EP. And I want to see how many lives we can touch with this music, especially post-pandemic. It’s something we all need. Me being this old schooler now and bringing this organic approach, I think it’s needed today. I’m thinking that I’ll probably do a tour and enjoy myself because it’s something I wanted to do for a while. Luckily, the band and I, we’re ready.”
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