After uploading his first YouTube video - a cover of "Breaking Free" from Disney's High School Musical - over 10 years ago, Leroy Sanchez has catapulted to internet fame, garnering 2.6 million subscribers and 274 million total video hits on his channel. As the Spanish singer wraps up his first headlining tour, Sanchez is gearing up for the release of his debut single and album later this year.
Billboard sat down with the 25-year-old moments before he took the stage at The Studio at Webster Hall on March 2 to find out what's next for him.
You've been on the road for over two months… Tell us about the tour and headlining for the first time.
It's been crazy. I've never had my own headlining tour, so it's amazing that more than half the shows sold out. It's really been mind-blowing. I'm visiting places I've never been before and people have been so welcoming and supportive. We went through Europe, the U.S. and Canada, so I'm getting to meet a lot of my fans. I played SXSW [in Austin, TX] and KAABOO [in Del Mar, CA], as well as opened for Boyce Avenue on their tour last year, so I've been pretty busy. Boyce Avenue's tour ended in November , and I started my tour in January, so it's been non-stop. I'm ready to go home for a little bit.
Building most of your fan base online through posting YouTube covers, has it been hard transitioning your followers and subscribers to your live shows and original music?
The audiences have actually been responding really well. I don't know if they're generally expecting more originals than covers, or more covers than originals [at the shows], but the fans who have been following me for a long time are ready for something new from me; they want to hear my own music. The way I introduce the show is that I tell them how I started and transition to where I'm going, so they get to see both parts of me: They see the covers, which is where I come from, and then they hear the originals, which is where I'm headed next.
People might not know this, but you're actually from Spain, and you started making your YouTube videos when you were in Spain. Can you tell us about you transition to life and the music industry here in the U.S.?
It's actually kind of funny, because I'll sing in Spanish on YouTube, and people will comment saying, "Wow, your Spanish is so good!" I originally moved to Boca Raton, Fl., about five years ago to work with a producer who was based there, Jim Jonsin -- he found me on YouTube. I spent about two to three years there and moved to L.A. afterward. L.A. has been fun, but it's definitely been a lot of work. I'm staying busy.
What's your songwriting process like?
I've been writing for many years, and I've been crafting my English skills since I moved [to the U.S.]. It's obviously easier for me to write in Spanish, but I'm getting pretty comfortable writing in both languages, which is a huge step for me. I try not to force it, because when I do, nothing good really comes out. I can start with a chord progression, or a melody that's really catchy, or I might have a clear idea of something I want to write about, so I'll spit it out really quick. Sometimes it just comes out and the song writes itself, but sometimes it takes a little more work. It really depends on what I start with.
Tell us about your upcoming single and album.
After my [Man of the Year] Tour is done, we're planning on releasing the single [also called "Man of the Year"]. We don't have an official date yet, but it should be sometime in May. After that, we'll release the full album in the late summer, and then go back on tour early fall. We're hoping to hit the U.S., Canada, southeast Asia, and Europe - and maybe Australia - on the next tour. I co-wrote the track with Kam Parker and Gitty, and it's produced by Finatik N Zac. It's been a long time coming. I'm finally independent, and I'm free to release my own music, which is what I'm so excited for on this [debut] record.