The 27-year-old Colombian artist sings the Spanish and English version of “Dos Oruguitas” for the Disney animated movie. Yatra worked alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote and composed eight original songs for Encanto, to bring the song to life.
“When I heard Lin-Manuel was involved in the movie, it was pretty shocking in a cool way because I admire Lin-Manuel so much. Everything he’s done with Hamilton and Broadway and with so many other movies. He has such a wonderful career,” Yatra told ET. “I remember meeting him at the GRAMMYs a couple of years back. He was there when I sang with Carlos Vives and they were doing a special award for Lin-Manuel. And I was like, ‘This is so crazy how a Latino, like me, can be doing so many wonderful things worldwide.’ And, you know, life ends up connecting and it starts here, and then the circle goes around and you meet again.”
Encanto follows the Madrigal family, who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia, in a magical house in a town called Encanto. Each family member has a unique power, all except Maribel. But when she discovers that her family’s power is in danger, Mirabel decides that she might be the one to save it.
Miranda asked Yatra to sing the song after he heard his Latin GRAMMY-nominated track “Adios.” “I didn’t ask for any details or anything,” he said about being asked to be part of the movie and immediately saying yes. “I just got so excited and thank god it all worked out.”
“Dos Oruguitas” is the first song Miranda ever wrote beginning to end in Spanish. The song, about two caterpillars, is about how two souls are connected and in love. Recording the track was unlike anything the Colombian-born and Miami-raised singer ever experienced.
“I loved working in the studio with Lin-Manuel and his whole team on ‘Dos Oruguitas.’ It was a very different way of recording than what I’m used to with my songs. Because as a songwriter, it’s like, OK, I read the song and then I express the emotion the way I’m feeling the song in that moment, and the way I want to sing it to that specific person I have in mind or that idea and that concept that I created,” he explained. “But with ‘Dos Oruguitas,’ you’re singing and you’re acting at the same time because you’re telling the story of a character that I’m giving voice to.”
“And I also have the responsibility of really giving and conveying a lot of emotion to this scene that is going to make people connect more and more with my country,” he added. “So it was, like, not pressure, but there was a lot of importance in this message for me. And the team at Disney and Lin-Manuel, they made it super easy and they were with me every step of the way.”
Yatra also noted that each word he had to sing was sung “for a very specific reason.” As he was singing, he watched the scene, explaining, “So it’s the timing. There’s a look between two characters. There’s something sad happening, something happy, and the song just evolves that way. And there’s a lot of storytelling to it, which I love and it fascinates me.”
Aside from the experience, Yatra hopes that audiences fall in love with his country after watching Encanto.
“As a Colombian artist, I really hope people watching Encanto leave the theater and say, ‘I want to go to Colombia. Is this place for real or is it just Disney making their magic?’ And I want people to go to Colombia and realize that it is real, that those colors exist there and the nicest people,” he expressed. “And there’s so much diversity and animals and nature and the air you breathe in the mountains and the coffee and just everything that goes on in Colombia is magical.”
“And there’s a lot of places there where you’re going to go and you’re going to want to stay forever. So I really hope that happens,” he continued. “And I’m just so proud to be Colombian. [After] I watched the movie, I got so excited and it made me nostalgic too because I’m from Colombia but I travel all the time. I’m always on tour and I don’t spend as much time there as I want to. But it made me really nostalgic and I’m happy for Christmas and everything because I’ll be there with my family.”
Encanto is now in theaters.