First-time GRAMMY winners Jesse & Joy at the 59th GRAMMY Awards on Feb. 12, 2017
Photo: Randy Shropshire/WireImage.com
Jesse & Joy Reveal Hardest Part of Making 'Un Besito Más'
(The Making Of GRAMMY-Winning Recordings series presents firsthand accounts of the creative process behind some of music's biggest recordings. In this installment, sibling duo Jesse & Joy detail the making of Un Besito Más, which won Best Latin Pop Album at the 59th GRAMMY Awards.)
Joy Huerta: Normally we write while we're on tour and for [Un Besito Más (One More Kiss)] we wrote in several parts of South America, Europe and the U.S. We've been doing this for 12 years and all of the music and the people and places we've gotten to know throughout this time have left a mark, along with what we were listening to when we were growing up. That all came out in our writing this time. It was really interesting to see how the songs were really diverse but at the same time they all made sense together.
The song "Un Besito Más" is the perfect example of a good mixture of different sounds because it comes from the influences we had growing up in Mexico City. It also has the influence we had growing up with an American mother who gave us a bit of folk and it also has [co-producer] Juan Luis Guerra's Dominican Republic [sound], so it's an entire fusion of what our life is.
We wrote the song just a few days after losing our daddy. When we write a song we usually grab one of our phones and record voice notes just to get the idea down. We couldn't even finish that part — we had to record the ideas in bits and pieces. When we got ready to make the album, we weren't sure we wanted this song to be a part of it — our songs have always been personal and about our lives, but this one felt a bit more extreme. We decided we weren't the first people to lose someone and we won't be the last. The song felt so strong that we picked it to be the name of the album. It was difficult to get the vocals done, though. When we started recording, it was a big crying-fest.
Jesse Huerta: The vocals were done in one take split across two sessions. It was one day of recording but we did have to take a break to breathe and blow our noses. The song is a little folky but it also has a bachata feel. A lot of the album was recorded in London but we recorded "Un Besito Más" in Dominican Republic and then we came to L.A. and had Greg Leisz add some pedal steel, so it has that nice musical blend.
The main focus we had at the beginning of this album was to get goose bumps whenever we were writing the songs. And sound-wise we wanted to try things we hadn't done before, working with different producers and engineers. The hardest part of the album was figuring out how to surprise our fans without losing our essence and all the things that our fans have connected with. Fortunately, we work well as our own inner focus group. We're very competitive in a healthy sibling way and we are constantly trying to surprise each other. We keep each other working at our best. During the process of making this album there were definitely some tears, but there was also a lot of smiling because we felt like we were really creating what we had set out to create.
(At the 59th GRAMMY Awards, Jesse & Joy won Best Pop Latin Album for 2015's Un Besito Más (One More Kiss), marking the first GRAMMY win of their career. The album also topped Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart and won a Latin GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Album for 2016.)
(Chuck Crisafulli is an L.A.-based journalist and author whose most recent works include Elvis: My Best Man, Running With The Champ, and Getting To "Yes And".)