Can you talk to us more about your latest single “The Worst Hangover”?
It’s a remix to a song on my album ‘The Lottery’. It’s about the pain you feel after losing someone you love. The way you feel the day after a huge fight or break up when the memories of you together or your dashed future really hit you.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Yes. The death of my father. He passed away from cancer and I wrote this song on the plane ride home from his funeral. In fact I wrote three songs on that plane ride. All three made it to ‘The Lottery’ album.
How was the film experience?
Organized chaos. We actually filmed two videos at once as we wanted to make a two part series. Luckily we had an experienced crew and we knew how we wanted to tell the story. We shot the videos in 3 days. The first video was for my remake of George Michaels ‘Father Figure’. The second part of that video was for my song ‘The Worst Hangover (T. Wahl Remix)’. It was very compartmentalized and we didn’t/couldn’t shoot everything in order so it was a little stressful too, making sure we didn’t miss any key shots at the end of the whole thing.
How was the recording and writing process?
Therapeutic. As I mentioned my dad had passed away during the making of the album so I was able to really get in touch with the pain I was going through losing someone so close to me. On the flip side it made me appreciate all the love and people I currently have in my life. I feel like I hit “The Lottery” in my career, life and love so I was able to write about how lucky I am to have these people in my life as well.
What role does Kansas plays in your writing?
Kansas! I smile whenever I see that word. Truthfully it plays a bigger role than I had previously thought until you asked me this question. Because when I write my songs I actually picture different people in Kansas listening to them. I truly do. People that probably have no idea I picture them at all. People I grew up with, people I’ve met recently and even people that are friends of my parents. I picture them in their cars, playing it loud, or listening on their headphones at the gym. Or telling playing it for their kids and saying ‘I know that guy’. I do my best to be the hometown boy that makes them proud. I try to inspire them to reach for more. I try to be a good role model. I truly try to be a good ambassador for Kansas and represent my home state as best I can. I could go on and on about Kansas. I miss it. I miss the people, but I’m out here showing the world that Kansas isn’t just a state with no beach front property! I’m here showing there are talented, driven, good people in Kansas. Every single day I wear something that represents my local Kansas teams here in NYC. I’ll wear a Kansas Jayhawk hat, shirt, socks whatever but the same could be said about my Kansas City Royals and my Kansas City Chiefs. Though I know they are Missouri teams, they are my local teams and teams I grew up loving. I’ve even made it a point now to put some sort of Kansas reference in every video I do. I shot and directed my own video for a song called “All Of Me” (also on ‘The Lottery’) and I wore Kansas Jayhawk gear as well as a KC Royals hat at points in the video. On another video we did called “When I’m with you” (also on ‘The Lottery’), I make reference to my love story with my wife at the end of the video. Then in ‘Father Figure’ and ‘The Worst Hangover (T. Wahl Remix)’ I made sure my Jayhawk phone was seen. So wow. Great question!
How has your Latin background have influence your music?
I was born into a family that played ‘Tejano’ music. Most people would call it “Tex-Mex” music. Every night I’d go to sleep to the sounds of my dad and uncle’s band practicing. I’d go to their practices and gigs dreaming of the day I could get up on the mic. In fact when I first started my group at the age of 14 we were called ‘The Mex-Mix’. And we did some english and some spanish. I eventually faded away from doing spanish music in pursuit of my love for R&B/Pop. And actually the very first song I ever sang on stage was a spanish song that was a big mainstream hit for Richie Valenz…’La Bamba’. I’ve since come back to recording some songs of mine in spanish. I think I did that more for my community and the people back home. I wanted to show them that I still cared about my heritage, being Mexican and all. It was challenging though because I don’t speak spanish, so it made for some long frustrating sessions!
Does the new single mean we can expect a new album – how’s that coming along?
I was just asked this by a fan of mine recently. No, when my first album ‘RnBPoPWrytr’ came out in 2012 it was considered a success because we didn’t know what to expect. This was my debut album, I was 37 years old, I had no really following, I’d been out of the game for over 10 years etc. So when it reached #62 on iTunes I was shocked! I was excited and went to work immediately on a second album. Well, I learned something though. I didn’t let the ‘RnBPoPWrytr’ album grow. I released it and was ready to move on. There were some great songs on the album. Granted the production wasn’t what ‘The Lottery’ was, but I should have pushed another single or two to let it breathe. When I finished ‘The Lottery’, I knew I had a product with 15 radio ready, professionally produced and mixed, quality songs. Any of which would be strong singles to represent the album. I’m on no timeline right now. So I’m letting that album breathe, grow it’s legs and I plan on eating off of this album for a long time. I’ll write and record singles for a while and see where that leads. But at this point there are no album plans in the works. Albums are a lot of work and though I love it. I’ve got to get all I can out of ‘The Lottery’ right now.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
HAHA!! Another good question. I always have a few ideas in mind for album titles, but more so song titles. I like song titles that roll off the tongue pretty easily. Songs like ‘Date Night’, ‘The Lottery’, ‘All Of Me’. Or songs that sound fun like ‘Candy Store’ or ‘Drink Up Freak Out’.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes and no. Having a family and being an independent artist is almost an oxymoron. I enjoy being at home with my wife and kids. I’m kind of a home body. I love performing, don’t get me wrong but I like it spread out. One of my favorite performances was flying out to Miami in the morning, doing the show and sitting at home on my couch at 11:30pm watching “24” with my wife. Anytime I can come home to my girls I’ll do that. Luckily since I’m an independent artist I don’t have to share my earnings with a record label. And being that I write 99% of my music I don’t have to share the mechanical royalties with anyone, and on top of that performance royalties. So we’re in a pretty good situation for now. I took a lot of time away from my girls when I made the album so now that those royalties are coming in I can give a lot of time back to the girls with vacations. We’ve got 3 or 4 lined up this summer! With shows sprinkled in between!
What else is happening next in Roger Ortega’s world?
Next is writing an album with and for a good friend of mine who actually played guitar 3 or 4 songs for my album. I’m working on a surprise project for someone. I’ll keep writing and recording my own stuff. Maybe a collaboration or two. And I have plans in the next year to start putting together an album with my former group Slo Motion, because I wouldn’t have moved out of Kansas without those guys, thus I wouldn’t be here without them. But for now it’s all about my own work.