LOS ANGELES – As I walk into Milk Studios, Rosalía and Rauw Alejandro are sitting at a table crouched together. They're whispering, lost in their own world, as teams of makeup artists, photographers, and publicists make their way out to join. In unison, the two migrate to the couch and plop down, laser-focused on each other.
The Spanish singer/songwriter, born Rosalía Vila Tobella, and Puerto Rican reggaetonero, born Raúl Alejandro Ocasio Ruiz, are still reeling from the release of their first joint studio effort, "RR."
The three-song EP served as a public declaration of their love and engagement celebration. They followed the release with another first, performing "RR" in Puerto Rico together during Alejandro's historic concert at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, part of his Saturno World Tour produced by Duars Live. The PDA-filled performance further proved why they're Latin music's power couple of the moment.
"I was super-nervous, super-happy," Alejandro says. "I fulfilled a dream and a goal with Rosi by my side, the most special person to me."
The two, both 30 years old, are at the top of their game. Rosalía's Motomami World Tour for her Grammy-winning third studio album wrapped in December. She's on a 20-date festival tour, including prominent headlining slots at Coachella and Primavera Sound. She'll return to Mexico on April 28 for a free concert at the capital's Zócalo, one of the largest public plazas in the world. After the release in November of Alejandro's third studio album, "Saturno," a new wave and experimental reggaeton LP infused with '90s house music, Alejandro is on a 70-date global arena tour.
"We're both workaholics," Alejandro says, with Rosalía laughing in agreement. "And when we came together in the studio, it was fuego."
The couple 'waited for the right moment' to release music together
"RR" marked Rosalía and Alejandro's first collaboration since becoming an item nearly four years ago. "We waited for you to get to know me better, and for me to know you better," says Rosalía, looking at him. "And then we felt like: 'OK, we have something to share. Let's share it.'"
In the music video for "Beso," the EP's opening track which details their yearning when they're away from each other, the two revealed they'll be headed down the aisle. The final scene of the video shows a teary-eyed Rosalía wearing a sparkling ring on her finger and holding a red ring box in her hand. (Fans had since speculated an engagement, though, after the Spanish singer seemingly unveiled her ring in Instagram posts from summer 2022.)
"We opened a little window where fans, if they get close, can look through and see who we are," the two-time Grammy winner says, cupping her hands into a circle. "It's" – Alejandro finishes her thought – "a little piece of us both."
As much of a public proclamation of their love as "RR" was, the two are still tight-lipped about wedding details.
But as with the timing of their first musical project, everything else that follows will be on their own terms. "We don't worry too much about public perception, and others that may worry more about perception would have made a collaboration like this much earlier," the "Bizcochito" singer says. "But it took us three years to prepare this because we weren't rushed, we waited to find the right moment."
The two are grateful for how fans have embraced the new music. "They've received it with a lot of love and happiness."
Chemistry and romantic partnership aside, the mutual respect and admiration Rosalía and Alejandro have is palpable. "We are different artists. … You have your way, I have my way, but when we're in the studio – we try to put what we have in common on the table," Rosalía says. "We just found a balance," Alejandro adds.
Known for her modern interpretations of flamenco music and her experimental and alternative reggaeton record "Motomami," Rosalía's musical style seamlessly blends with Alejandro's trap, reggaeton and R&B essence, on "RR."
"We respect each other's individual careers, we don't limit each other," Alejandro says proudly. "When she's doing her work, that's her priority so I don't get involved or say, 'Don't do this.' We're free in what we do."
Rosalía teases a Rauw Alejandro cameo at Coachella
Editor's note: This interview took place before Rosalía performed at Coachella. Rauw Alejandro did join her on Coachella's main stage.
After hitting the Coachella stage for the first time in 2019, performing songs off her albums "Los Ángeles" and "El Mal Querer," Rosalía is back and ready to take on the challenge of performing at one of the best known music festivals on the planet.
She won't give much away on what fans can expect from her Day 2 set at Coachella on April 15 and 22, but Rosalía – donning a mesh pink long sleeve, layered under a corset, paired with oversize black ski pants and space buns in her hair – gives Alejandro a look.
"Is Rauw going to make an appearance?" I ask. "We'll see, we'll see," she says before changing the subject.
"It feels exciting; now it's been four years since I've performed there. I don't want to anticipate anything. I just want to go out there and have fun."
Rauw Alejandro says 'Rosi' makes him 'a better man'
The "Punto 40" reggaeton star, channeling his inner Motopapi in a distressed chenille sweater paired with leather army green cargo pants and a Gucci belt, says he has "learned a lot from Rosi."
The relationship has taught him "how to be a better man, how to be a better partner," Alejandro says. "She's taught me to see things from a different perspective and I've been growing up as a man with her."
"You're a very instinctive and generous person," Rosalía tells Alejandro. "You're a very involved person, and I learn so much from how you navigate the world, how you live, and how you treat people. It's one of the most beautiful things about you, and it's very inspiring, and what else can I say? There are so many things. You have so much love to give to the world."
Rosalía and Rauw Alejandro on expressing their sexuality through music
In their music, lyrics, visuals and onstage presence, both artists explore themes of sexuality unapologetically.
In Rosalía's sex-positive piano ballad "Hentai," co-written with her sister, Pilar Vila, and Pharrell Williams, she sings of her sexual desires over dreamy electronic beats: "I wanna ride you like I ride my bike/Make me a tape Spike."
Alejandro is also known for his sensual dance moves, specifically for thrusting his pelvis onstage when performing songs like "2/Catorce." And you'll usually see a bra or panty thrown at him during his shows.
Freely expressing their sexuality isn't about selling an image but simply normalizing it. "Sexuality is a part of our nature and also love, too," Alejandro says. "My music connects with people because of that."
For Rosalía, it has been "women that have expressed their sexuality openly in the past that have made me feel freer. That's my ultimate goal to feel free as possible." Yet she's also aware of the patriarchal society we live in, and the double standards women face.
"Society is often harsh when a woman is adamant in expressing their desire but society will celebrate when a man expresses his sexuality," she says. "When it's a woman – it's questioned and challenged, or people feel uncomfortable.
"A man isn't held in the same regard. A man can be whatever he needs to be," Rosalía says. "Sexuality is a part of life. Why not make music about that?"
As an artist, Rosalía is aware of her and her music's role as a mirror. "People are going to see what they need to see or find what they need to find in your projects. They're going to hear what they need to hear, and with 'Motomami,' it's been a blessing they connected."
Contributing: Edward Segarra
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Rosalia, Rauw Alejandro interview: 'Beso,' sexuality, engagement, more