Nuevo Culture

Rauw Alejandro

Rauw Alejandro Celebrates New York at Gov Ball, Discusses ‘New Single, New Era’ in Pre-Show Interview

“I’ve got an album that’s almost ready,” the Puerto Rican superstar shared that before his headlining debut at the genre-spanning festival. It’s a new era for Rauw Alejandro. Fresh off releasing his first solo single since August, the disco-infused “Touching the Sky”, and teasing an upcoming album, Rauw has firmly established himself on the international festival circuit. Announced as a headliner for the Coca-Cola Music Fest and Baja Beach Fest, following his top billing at Chicago’s Sueños last month, his rise to prominence is clear. However, his ascent feels most profound at New York’s Governor’s Ball Music Festival, which ties his roots and personal story to the vibrant energy of the Big Apple.

On Friday (June 7) at 7:30 p.m., Rauw lit up Gov Ball’s GoPuff stage. Dressed in a striped suit reminiscent of the late 1960s, a nod to West Side Story, he delivered a performance brimming with energy and impeccable dance moves. Over an hour, he rolled out hits like “Al Callao’,” “Panties y Brasieres”, “Party”, “Desesperados”, “Desenfocao’,” and “Todo de Ti,” blending hard-hitting reggaetón with riveting dance-pop anthems.

His connection to the crowd was palpable: “I’ve always had a special connection to this city. My dad was born in Brooklyn. It’s a meeting point for many cultures,” he told the audience. “Many of us left our country in search of opportunities and dreams. Here, you can fulfill all the dreams you have in life. For me, a dream is being fulfilled by sharing it here with all of you, a dream that I am living today, thanks to all of you who have supported me since day one.” Gov Ball, with its iconic New York-inspired elements like a tattooed Statue of Liberty and city memorabilia, saw Rauw honor NYC uniquely. A subway train replica served as his stage backdrop for “Touching the Sky”, setting the scene for a powerhouse dance performance infused with Broadway-style theater.

Moments before his dynamic act, Billboard Español caught up with Rauw to discuss his upcoming album and the personal stories shaping his public persona and electrifying performances.

It’s exciting to have you here in New York headlining at Gov Ball. How are you feeling about today’s performance?

I’m really excited. It’s my first time headlining here, and it’s a big deal. Over the last few years, a lot of Latinos have headlined U.S. festivals. We are here.

Do you prepare differently for a headlining festival set compared to your own concerts or tours? How does the experience differ for you?

It’s different. In festivals, you share a stage with other artists, so you don’t have two or three hours for a show. My shows are normally two and a half hours long, arena and stadium shows. But at festivals, it’s like we’re united as artists, sharing energy with the public. The festival runs from midday until 10 p.m., so it’s like a quick teaser. Festivals are more fun and energetic. I focus more on what people like and just want to have a good time. My concerts focus on my album concept and tell a whole story. With festivals, we use it more to promote singles. It’s the taste before the tour. I remember my first festival, six years ago, before I had an album. It was just promoting me as a new artist. Festivals provide that opportunity. I’m headlining this festival, and I have a special surprise for the people here. My dad is from Brooklyn; I have a lot of family in New York, so there’s that special connection. Plus, this weekend is the Puerto Rican Day parade. Puerto Rico is here.

Dance is such a significant element of your performances. Can you share some insights into how you develop your choreography? Who are your choreographers?

Rauw Alejandro: I’ve been working with FeFe Burgos, another Puerto Rican. He’s been in New York for a long time and danced with many artists. We’ve been working together for around six years. We collaborate with all our choreographers, mixing Latin flavor with various dance styles like hip-hop, jazz, and contemporary. I even have a small foundation in ballet. I’ve always danced my whole life, just for fun.

In my opinion, you are the best dancer, taking the genre’s performances to the next level.

I realized this is where I want to be, so I started studying more and improving over time, incorporating salsa flavor. So many artists from past generations have inspired me. I remember seeing Michael Jackson when I was a boy. My dad is a huge fan of Elvis Presley and James Brown. I grew up with that style. From a young age, all dance performers captivated me. I’d watch them and think, “Oh my God, I want to be like them.” I’m hyper; I cannot sit still on stage. I need to move.

You channel an old dapper New York era. What were your influences?

It’s more like the late ’60s and ’70s, West Side Story, Broadway, and theatrical. Before I started making music, I did theater at 16 and 17 years old. I like to mix theater with music. For Saturno, I started creating short films for my albums. For this one we’re preparing, you’ll see the contrast between my albums and what I did with Saturno last year. It’s going to be the opposite.

Any new tattoos?

I’m working on it. I haven’t had the time, but I want to tattoo my legs, my back, everything. The only thing I won’t do is my face, because I promised my grandma.

Final thoughts?

It’s a new Rauw, new era, new music. The album is amazing. I always like to do my final touches in Puerto Rico. I think it brings good luck. Puerto Rico has this magic touch no other place has. The biggest artists in the Latin world are on the Island. It has something magical. If you want to find out, you need to visit the Island.