Our man of style Justin Quiles proves to us that going out of your comfort zone yields big rewards.
Justin Quiles (@jquiles) is a triple threat. He’s an award-winning songwriter, artist and, after our Ocean Drive shoot, I’m pretty confident that he can add fashion model to his growing repertoire. Above all, he is a creative in all facets of life—and those creative wheels never stop churning. At just 30 years old, he’s only just getting started.
“My creative process is constant,” Quiles explains. “It can really happen anywhere, at any time. For example, yesterday I was in the car and I was stopped at a red light. I was like, ‘What a great concept—a red light,’ and I started writing a love song that was inspired by a red light, with the theme centering around ‘you’re staying with me.’ … My process can vary. Two years ago, I wrote a song for Anitta and J Balvin called ‘Downtown’ and it was inspired by my view in Miami looking downtown at the city. When I write, I look around me and pick something and freestyle off of that until something sticks.”
Humble as ever, Quiles may make his creative process sound simple, but in actuality, it is anything but—throughout his career, he’s amassed over 2.5 billion global streams with 3.69 million subscribers on his YouTube page, 7 million followers on Instagram and 18 million monthly listeners on Spotify. He’s written for and collaborated with every relevant name in the Latin music world, from Anitta to J Balvin, Maluma, Daddy Yankee, Nicky Jam, Farruko, Natti Natasha, Wisin y Yandel, Don Omar and so many more. Quiles’ reach knows no bounds, and it’s clear that he’s a major player on the precipice of a cultural revolution.
“Latin music has been struggling for a lot of years, and right now, it is its time. It’s becoming mainstream and being recognized all over the world, particularly the reggaeton genre. We’re in the spotlight, and now Americans want to collaborate with us,” he notes. “I feel like all of the artists before me made the way for us, and we’re the new artists and it is our job to come out and keep leading—keep this momentum going for the next generation.”
He entered the scene in a big way, with his album La Promesa peaking at No. 1 on Billboard. Up next, he’ll drop his latest album, La Ultima Promesa, poised for release later this year. The name is strategic—as with everything in Quiles’ ever-working mind, his thought process is intentional and chronological.
“This upcoming album is called ‘The Last Promise’ because I felt it’s time to close this chapter of my life and begin a new one. My first album was La Promesa—the promise. The second album was Realidad—reality. And now, it’s time to close the book with La Ultima Promesa. The album will explore various themes, the focal point being a sense of closure—most notably, ending a relationship that didn’t work out.”
At this point, he teaches me a cultural lesson and a new phrase that is deeply embedded in the Latin culture. “Colorín, Colorado,” he says. “In Spanish, when you’re telling a story to a kid, at the end they say, ‘Colorín, Colorado, este cuento se ha acabado.’ It’s this super-famous phrase that everyone knows that basically says, ‘and now this story has come to an end’—so, in one of my upcoming songs about the girl in the relationship that didn’t work out, I integrate this cultural reference to give it a sense of finality.”
The album was born out of quarantine where Quiles’ creativity was in overdrive.
“While the past year was tough for the music industry as a whole, I also feel like it was a time of reflection, and I had the opportunity to just focus on my music. I had time to put more effort into every single project. From the song to the video production, to the mix—I learned it all. Writing songs is my thing, but I like to be involved in every single process, and I feel like if it weren’t for the pandemic, I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to be so hands-on. I even learned how to record myself. My two first singles off the album were fully written, recorded and produced by myself out of my apartment,” he shares. “At first, it was a little stressful, but then it started flowing and it all came together naturally.”
The true embodiment of a Renaissance man, Quiles’ passions do not stop with music. Another area where his star shines bright is fashion. If you follow him on Instagram, you know he pulls out all the stops for his looks, taking risks and breaking boundaries that express his true creative self. As our man of style, we were instantly intrigued by his ability to not only conceptualize but also pull off looks that others would not dare to attempt. A belt as a choker? He’s down. A unisex jumpsuit? Check. His only prerequisite: “It’s gotta be fly,” he says.
“I always try to be different. That’s what I tell my stylist—I don’t want to be like everybody else. I want to add something extra, push boundaries—I feel like that’s part of being an artist. You’ve got to be your own star; you’ve got to be your own light. You’ve got to shine in your own way.
“At the beginning, I felt like I was missing out on that, but you grow more confident with time. You take more risks and it becomes another form of expression. I feel like now I’m prepared to show the world who I am.”
The world is ready and has been ready for all that is Justin Quiles. Only time will tell what he will conquer next. But for now, it’s “Colorín, Colorado, este cuento se ha acabado.”