What started as a 30-day songwriting challenge ended up producing Colombian American singer-songwriter Carlo Rincón’s debut single “Hot Lemonade” and his most recent release “Home Again” that just landed itself on the Fresh Finds: Indie Spotify playlist.
A self-taught pianist, guitarist, vocalist and producer, growing up, it was only a matter of time before Rincón had written his first song in the eighth grade. From there, one musical spark ignited a whole symphony within him, and he went on to write two albums while in high school.
Rincón’s longtime best friend, Paul Gutierrez, a junior majoring in creative producing at Chapman University said, “the sky’s the limit for him.”
“Having been around him for four years singing every day together, he has an incredible voice [and] incredible range,” Gutirrez said. “He’s a really great live performer, so I can imagine him doing a lot of live shows.”
Now a junior majoring in music industry, the 21-year-old indie-folk singer, born and raised in Denver, Colo., goes by the name San Andrea. Since he lives in Los Angeles, many have thought that his alias comes from the Southern California San Andreas Fault Line.
However, it’s significance and origin is one with a story much more personal to Rincón.
His middle name “Andrea” comes from the famous Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli, who his mother named him after.
Often mispronounced, Rincón wanted to own his middle name and chose to go by the stage name “San Andrea” partly because of its personal connection but also because of his family background and as a dedication to a place that hits close to home for the singer.
“There’s this island off the coast of Colombia, called San Andrés, and we used to go there all the time growing up,” Rincón said. “It has a lot of positive memories and good meaning with my family.”
Through every word he sings, Rincón creates a nostalgic, vulnerable and sentimental atmosphere. Taking inspiration from artists such as Bon Iver, Gregory Alan Isakov, Novo Amor and JP Saxe, Rincón wants his words, as much as his sound, to resonate with listeners.
“Because I’m a lyricist and because I focus on what I have to say, I want people to find different ways of thinking about how they’re feeling so that [it] can be easier to work with it,” Rincón said.
Not only does Rincón write his own music, he also does all of his own marketing, logos, posters and merchandise. He’s even helped fellow artists with their marketing strategies — writing press releases, designing posts for social media and creating videos to accompany their music.
“He’s just an extremely kind and caring person [and] with my own music, he’s helped me so much,” Gutierrez said.
When it came to the 30-day songwriting challenge he started in October 2019, Rincón said, “It got me in this groove of, not even writing things that I would necessarily first think of but just what other people thought of.”
Each day that month, Rincón would ask his followers to send in one-word prompts for him to write a song about.
After a friend jokingly requested he write a song using the word “lemons,” Rincón went on to write his debut single “Hot Lemonade,” which was written in a day and came out in mid-July 2020. The song is a light-hearted homage to his younger self. In it, hot lemonade is the metaphor for something going awry in a relationship without being able to put your finger on why or what it is that caused the disruption.
“Maybe you’re in this relationship and everything is going right, you’re moving along good, but then you take a sip, and you start to fall [and you] get to know them a little bit more, then something throws you off,” Rincón said.
Devon Oakley, a junior majoring in music production, who mixed and mastered both “Hot Lemonade” and “Home Again,” met Rincón in a music industry class last year. The two quickly hit it off and began collaborating.
“Carlo really tries to make music that will have an effect on people and is from his own personal experience and his own heart, so I really appreciate that about what he tries to create,” Oakley said.
Like many young adults heading to college, soon-to-be graduating or figuring out their direction in life, Rincón’s song “Home Again,” released January, comes from a more serious space and is a dedication to his family and hometown.
“I think it also is a song about growing up and reflecting on your past and that time where you’re in between two places,” Rincón said.
Starting out as a biology major his freshman year, Rincón didn’t feel that he was on the right path to where he wanted to go with his future. Thinking about his mother’s wise words and how she’d built her own acting company, Visionbox Studios, from the ground up, Rincón felt encouraged to pursue what he’s most passionate about and switch his major.
“There are times where I’m scared shitless about what I am going to do after college, but I feel like, regardless of what you’re studying, everyone’s worried about that,” Rincón said.
At USC, he said, “it doesn’t seem far-fetched to dream about what you want.”
Destined to pursue a career in music, shortly after “Hot Lemonade,” Rincón wrote “Home Again,” which is about missing the place you’re from and going back to the memories in your mind that remind you of home.
“[I was thinking to myself] ‘Why did I think that moving to the sun was going to be what I wanted?’ I love the snow, and it just felt like everything was so opposite,” Rincón said.
“Home Again” was a way of reflecting on what he was feeling at the time, being tied between two places.
“I was really in search of what I wanted, and I still am, and I think ‘Home Again’ was [a] way to reflect that,” Rincón said.
A perfect pairing to the song, the music video for “Home Again” features clips from Rincón’s childhood — everything from blowing out birthday candles to making snow angels in the sand at the beach.
“I’m super grateful that my dad and mom took so many home videos because I was able to make … a whole compilation of [myself] growing up and see it happen in almost five minutes,” Rincón said.
Rincón hopes to release more music later this year and continues to write and form collaborative relationships with fellow musicians and producers.
“It’s clear when people are in it for the art of it, and he’s certainly that,” Gutierrez said.