Singer, songwriter, musician. Unapologetically, unabashedly, and unreservedly himself: his name is Sebastian.
Photo by Pablo Reyes
Such is the legacy of Sebastian Sotomayor, founder and sole member of (me llamo) Sebastian. Since producing his first original album in 2010, this pop artist has been bringing to the Santiago music scene a one-of-a-kind style and sound, characterized by honest and straightforward lyrics and a unique sense of humor.
Whether it be song titles such as <3 (which is pronounced only as a kissing noise), bizarre makeup, outfits made of balloons, or album titles like “Goodbye, my gallbladder,” (an ode to Sebastian’s gastric bypass surgery when he was younger), it is clear that the musician specializes in all things quirky and comedic—something of which he is proud.
But the singer/songwriter has not always been this open in his music style. Thrust into the music industry at an early age by his father, who had hopes of his son becoming a pop star, Sebastian was schooled and trained in how to be famous—not authentic.
Album cover for Belleza . Photo courtesy of (me llamo) Sebastian.
“A lot of the singing world is fake, and pop stars have a lot to do with that,” he explains. “They make you feel like you have to be thin, or beautiful.” Growing up under the constant pressure to become the perfect, model pop star, Sebastian was bullied for his weight and homosexuality, forced to dress and behave in ways that felt insincere, and, the final straw, was told to alter his lyrics, changing love songs for “him” to “her”.
“I realized I’d been believing in a fake world since I was five,” he says. At the age of nineteen, Sebastian left the pursuit of fame behind for a both a life and music style that was completely his own. “I finally said, ‘It’s cool, I’ll write about myself and not about who I want to be.’ In that moment, I think (me llamo) Sebastian was truly born.”
Now Sebastian focuses on honesty above all else in his music, an approach that he believes creates a connection between himself and his audience. By singing about his own feelings and challenges, he believes that his music will have a more meaningful impact. “If I had a goal,” he confesses, “that would be it—you can be honest and it’s ok. You don’t need to be ashamed of what you feel.”
(me llamo) Sebastian performs in El Clan. Photo by Allison Thompson.
By this same reasoning, Sebastian is wary of over-romanticizing his music and singing about an idealistic world. He believes many hit songs, especially those about romance, are deceptive and create unattainable or unrealistic standards for listeners. Instead, he speaks plainly about interactions and modern day realities, often referencing pop culture. “When I die,” he jokes, “I’d be very happy if an extraterrestrial found my music and realized, ‘Ah! When this was recorded, this was what society was like.’”
Sebastian’s frank and innovative style has garnered him a core group of extremely dedicated fans. The artist has also received various awards and recognition, including a recent nomination for best pop artist in the Pulsar Awards, an event where he played a piano duet alongside Valentín Trujillo.
Sebastian continues to play in both small and large venues around Chile, as well as in festivals in the United States and Mexico.
Out of a past of doubt and confusion, (me llamo) Sebastian has emerged happy with who he is and dedicated to what he stands for, giving testimony to the worth of being honest to one’s self. “Right now it doesn’t matter about success,” he says. “I’m at peace with myself, and that is what’s important.”