Big Time Rush Go 'Worldwide' With 'Dale Pa' Ya'

Big Time Rush Go 'Worldwide' With 'Dale Pa' Ya'

by Bailey Richards

Over a decade ago, Big Time Rush tweaked one of their biggest hits, “Worldwide,” and converted some of its English lyrics to Spanish. They wanted a special version to perform for their Spanish-speaking fans, and the reaction to the modified song “spoke volumes,” says BTR member Logan Henderson.

In shaky concert footage of this version, the lyrics can hardly be heard over the roaring crowd, and comments on the videos urge the band to make more music in Spanish. And while doing that has been a long-time goal of BTR’s, all four members being on board meant nothing without the boyband overlords’ stamp of approval. So, after the band reunited in 2021 on their own terms, creating music in Spanish was one of the first things they set out to do.

The first single off of BTR’s upcoming Maffio-produced EP, “Dale Pa’ Ya” is the band’s first song in both Spanish and English and, love it or hate it, Maffio assures fans that the spelling of “Allá” as “Ya” in the title was very intentional:

“We were like, ‘You know what? Let's spice it up,’” said the Latin Grammy-winning producer. “Let’s put a ‘Y’ so everyone who doesn’t speak Spanish will pronounce it correctly.”

Ahead of the song’s release and a sold-out three-show tour leg in Mexico, BTR took a break from the Forever Tour chaos to hop on Zoom with PAPER — and later, Maffio — to chat about what it’s like to finally have the freedom that made “Dale Pa’ Ya” possible.

I know that playing Madison Square Garden was a dream that you guys have always had. What was it like to play there?

Carlos PenaVega: It was surreal. I mean we talked about it even during the TV show days but it just never became a reality. When we got the routing and MSG was on there for us. I think our first reaction was, “Can we sell tickets at MSG? Like pull it [off]?” Then to actually sell out the Garden on our first tour back in 10 years, it's just wild.

I wanted to ask about that recent video with Katelyn Tarver [who played Jo on Big Time Rush] and the sign — how did that happen?

Kendall Schmidt: She asked for tickets — I always got two tickets for Katelyn — and then I think she joked about pulling up for “Worldwide” or whatever and I was like, “Actually, that's a great idea, and I'll have a sign made that’s the same one from the TV show,” and it just all came together. We all love Katelyn to death.

Logan Henderson: Classic nostalgia. It was the right time.

Tell me a bit about how this song and this collaboration came to be.

Carlos: We've always had such a deep connection with Latin and South America as a band. Back in the day, our shows were just wild. One vivid memory I have is playing in front of 70,000 people in Mexico City singing “Worldwide.” It's just crazy. We'd always wanted to do something in Spanish and the opportunity came up and this incredible producer Maffio was on board to take us under his wing and do a whole bunch of songs. So we all flew to Miami. We spent two weeks with him, and there were no rules. It was like, “Let's just create amazing Spanglish music for the band.” The guys did such a great job. Weeks before, they were all doing Duolingo. We don't want it to be this cheesy thing like, “Oh, they're just singing Spanish songs because Spanish music is cool.” We have such a deep connection with those fans. We want to give back and this is such a great way to do it.

Kendall: The fact of the matter is we've been talking about this for 12 years. Carlos lit the fire, which is what we needed to get going on something like this. Back then, we just never got the chance to do it because we weren't in control of the trajectory of the band. Now, we can make our own decisions.

You've been performing “Dale Pa’ Ya” live already. What has the fan response to it been like so far?

James Maslow: My brother went and saw the Denver show. It was the first show he had seen all tour. He called me so excited the next day — he doesn't get excited easily — and he was like, “Dude, that was the best show of yours I've ever seen.”

Carlos: No way.

James: He was like, "Honestly, the new Spanish song was my favorite," and he doesn’t really speak Spanish.

Logan: We’ve also had other fans come up and it's weird because they are really into “Honey.” They love “Fall.” They love all the new stuff and a lot of them joined on because they wanted to see the new music. They didn't even know the old music. Whenever we get a little deeper down into our set, they’re like, “That old stuff that you have, I had no idea, but I loved that stuff.” It’s inspired us even to release some old songs that have never been released before, so it's been awesome.

What do you think your younger selves would say if they heard not only “Dale Pa’ Ya” but the other music that you're releasing right now?

Kendall: I think they'd be impressed. I think our younger selves always knew that our older selves would really want to make this happen because we talked about it back then a lot.

Logan: I think that the music kind of shows that we've really just fallen in love with music all over again.

Your new music is obviously very different from what you were putting out a decade ago. Who are your inspirations now versus back then?

Carlos: What's super unique about Big Time Rush is that we have four lead singers. And the four of us could not be more different. Our influences are so different, and that allows us to branch off and do different things. We literally have a Big Time Rush merengue. I would have never thought in a million years that we would have a merengue but we’re doing it. I might be speaking too soon but hopefully, one day, we’re going to finally release “Paralyzed.” You look at “Paralyzed” and you look at “Dale Pa’ Ya” and it’s like, “That's the same band?”

Logan: We've always kind of had a broad spectrum of music that we've released and that we've attached ourselves to but I think the one common thread is that it’s our four voices on it. That’s what keeps things together. All of us have such different musical tastes, so everything that you're hearing is very authentic but it's a different shade of each of us.

Kendall: We even talked about some old demos that never made it back in the day, reviving some of those. Ones that we really, really liked that we just never got a chance to do. Music is the name of the game and we're just having fun.

How did you guys [Maffio and BTR] meet?

Carlos: Once Big Time Rush ended, I think we all tried to go and do some solo stuff. I really wanted to go do something in the Spanish world, and I got introduced to Maffio so I flew down to Miami. We wrote a couple of songs but I just knew that if the band ever got back together, he was gonna be the guy to finally bring us into this world. Eight, nine years later, here we are on a Zoom with you talking about Spanish music.

What does it feel like now that the song is finally about to be out?

Maffio: It feels incredible. The energy that the song has and the energy that the song transmits to the people, it's the same energy that we had in the studio that day when we created it. I'm really excited and happy to see what's going to be the reaction tomorrow. Tonight I'm going to shut my phone off and I'm going to turn it back on tomorrow to see what happened.

So you made “Dale Pa’ Ya” in one day?

Maffio: Yeah. We were just hanging out, I guess, and we were knocking like one song every day.

Carlos: There was this guy, Jencarlos, in the studio and his son brought his saxophone, and was like, “Hey, can I show you guys something?” We're like, “Sure,” so he literally starts playing [imitates saxophone riff] and Maffio was like, “Yo man, get on the mic.”

So this song was pretty spur-of-the-moment?

Logan: Yep. Most of our songs kind of are.

Kendall: Especially with Maffio. That's kind of the vibe. Once you get going, it's like a roller coaster.

What was the inspiration behind the lyrics?

Carlos: You know, sometimes it's not, like, it doesn't have to be too…

Kendall: …complicated. I was talking to Maffio about this. Writing in Spanish and English is really cool because for every option, you have two doors. Honestly, it just expands the possibilities to a place where you can really start to pick things out and put them together faster than when you're just racking your brain for things that rhyme with “baby.”

I know you guys said you were brushing up and doing your Duolingo, but was the language barrier challenging?

Logan: It took me some time but we all sat there and worked with each other until we did it right.

How is this collaboration different than others you guys have done?

James: This time around, creating this music, it's just us four and our friends in the studio. Much more organic. Truthfully, it's been so much more fun. Nobody coming in going, “Oh, well, you shouldn't say that.” Back in the day, we had a lot of parents, so to speak. We had the TV show, the network and a lot of things to worry about.

Logan: A lot of cooks in the kitchen.

I know earlier you said you were gonna shut your phone off, Maffio, but is there anything else you guys are going to do to celebrate the single coming out?

Maffio: Oh, absolutely. There's gonna be a party all day.

Carlos: We have a show tonight [in Utah]. For us, it's going to be play a show and get some rest.

I was also wondering — to me, this song feels very summer-y — how did you guys decide on August for the release? Or is that just the way the cookie crumbled?

Kendall: That’s the way the cookie crumbled.

James: We have a lot of different music. We're trying to figure out the release strategy for all of it. Adding a Spanglish EP on top of it…

Carlos: And we’re heading to Mexico this week.

James: That's how we're celebrating. We're gonna get to go perform this down in Mexico with three sold-out shows. Maffio’s going to be joining us. That's probably the best way in the world we can think to celebrate the song.

Kendall: We're in an interesting position right now where we are flush with songs, actually. Now it's figuring out how to what to do, how to arrange them, you know?

Logan: We also don't hang on to things like we used to do back in the day. Now, [if] you have it, it’s out. You don't have to be so precious about the timing and all that. Music, you can listen to it at any time.

Not only is “Dale Pa’ Ya” in Spanish and English, but it has a different sound from what you guys have put out and are putting out right now — are you going to keep going in this direction? Or are you going to keep putting out music that sounds more like “Honey” and your other recent singles?

James: We plan on doing both.

Carlos: Yeah the sky’s the limit. We have a handful of songs that are mixed and mastered and ready to go, and every single one of them is different.

Maffio, when you were producing this track, what were your biggest inspirations?

Maffio: It's crazy. I'm the most unprepared producer because I never have anything in my head. It's just a chain of events. For example, with one of the songs that we did, we were kind of writer's blocked and the vibes were low. Then Kendall started playing a riff of a guitar and I'm like, “What!” It could be an instrument, a sound of the mouth. Anything could trigger the song.

That sounds kind of similar to [the band’s] songwriting process — is that why you think you guys click so well together?

Maffio: Yeah, we just tried to have fun and then all of the sudden we got “Dale Pa’ Ya.”

Kendall: Maffio is the gasoline.

Logan: It’s helped us four really be able to connect and respect each other the studio and be open and communicate. I think that was also why it was such a pleasure working with Maffio.

Maffio: That helped a lot because there's no ego in the room. There's five of us, plus the writers and stuff, and we communicate with each other. “How does how did this sound?” Okay, “What about we do it this way?” It's beautiful working like that because in this industry, I've been in the studio with people that are just not good to work with. Working with the guys, it was just incredible and and beautiful. Let's make 10 albums.

James: Let’s go.

Is there anything else about the song or about touring you guys are really excited about or really want to talk about?

Kendall: We just want to say, in regards to touring, how thankful we are for everyone who came out. We say it almost every night because it's the truth, but we really did not know what to expect, and the fact that so many people are showing up, we just feel so grateful and blessed.

James: And that's motivating us to double down, release even more music and come back and do more tours. We're just so grateful. We've had the best time in the world. This has been the best feedback we could ask for. We're here forever.

Photography: Alex Greenwood