Grammy-Winning Producer Andres Saavedra Talks Unprecedented Music Drama 'Guerra De Idolos'
"It’s raising the bar, for sure. People will have to play catch up after this."
As the second largest Spanish media company, Telemundo is about to up the ante with Guerra de Idolos (War of Idols), the first-ever scripted music drama series on U.S. Spanish-language television. Premiering Monday (April 24) at 8 p.m., Guerra de Idolos is not as focused on the politics surrounding the music industry as FOX hit Empire. The unprecedented series especially concerns itself with depicting the lives and hustle of a bevy of singers and recording artists trying to make it to the big time—romance and drama galore.
Expect cameos by heavy-hitters such Nicky Jam, Recoditos and Pepe Aguilar, in addition to the series' talented cast of singer-songwriter Maria Leon, former lead singer of Mexican pop group Playa Limbo, Sony Music recording artist Pedro Capo, Universal Music signed artist Christian Pagan and Marc Anthony-backed recording artist Luis Figueroa, to name a few.
The story, which took about two years to really come together, takes place in Los Angeles, Houston, New York, New Jersey and Mexico, with music from genres spanning urban, pop and regional Mexican, among others. Catering to the diverse tastes of U.S. Latinos from various regions, Guerra de Idolos features original music (now available on Spotify) produced by Grammy-winning executive producer Andres Saavedra, who we spoke with in order to help break down some of the key elements, being that the series is the first of its kind.
On what sets the series apart:
Andres Saavedra: A lot of it happened live—the music, the performances. It took a very long time to build the cast, because we wanted to recruit singers who could act and not the other way around. That’s very special. There was no making them sound good or dabbling in the studio. A lot of the music happened live. All those jams—when they're practicing, writing a song and even the performances. It happened live. They would do four or five takes, it was a big big challenge. It’s real and it’s not perfect, but it’s very special.
On the process of creation:
I am the music producer for a majority of the songs—about 16 songs, and multiple versions of them. The process was very simple. After reading the script that was sent to me, we called a few friends and built a team of writers, each one being an expert in their respective genre. I took care of all the urban and pop side of things. We started developing the songs according to the characters.
On the characters:
They are all artists who can actually act. Every character has their personal story of love, drama, horror and dreams. The music is tailored to each character. In watching the show, you’ll soon realize that the music dictates the tone. You know who is approaching the scene by what sounds are being played right before they appear.
On the importance of the genres being presented:
There is urban, reggaeton—a lot of urban pop. There is also traditional ranchera and pop ranchera; the lyrics are very different from one to the other. There is corridos, which is regional Mexican. There is a big side of regional Mexican music, actually, and that alone is very nuanced. It’s important that we included all these, because we wanted this to be an all-Latin series. We wanted to cover both coasts, not just one side of Latin music.
On what the show should impact:
Hopefully, it will unite Latinos from all regions—the east and west coast. We want this show to really capture what it takes to be a dreamer, and hopefully it will inspire others. We’re in an era where consumers think music is free, with no idea of what it actually takes to create. And hopefully this will inspire both the artist and the fan, give them better insight on the politics of music. The other important thing is that this series is raising the bar as far as cinematography and the quality of the work—it's superior work, very theatrical. It’s raising the bar, for sure. People will have to play catch up after this.