The best things in life are worth waiting for. That seems to be the sentiment surrounding Jorge Drexler and “Tinta y Tiempo” (“Ink and Time”), the physician-turned-musician’s 14th studio album that “almost didn’t happen,” he tells Variety.

The album swept at the Latin Grammys this year, with the Uruguayan singer-songwriter taking home six trophies, in highly competitive categories with heavyweights including Bad Bunny and Shakira. At the 2023 Grammy Awards, he’ll similarly go head-to-head with champs including Rosalía, Mon Laferte and Fito Páez for Latin rock or alternative album (he’s been nommed in the category before, in 2015 and 2018).

Drexler talked to Variety about his award-winning record, which took two years and two weeks to complete.

Of your three decades in music, you’ve described this album as the most challenging. What does it mean to have it recognized with so many accolades?

This is a marvelous exaggeration for me, something completely unexpected simply due to the talented [artists] who are nominated in these categories. They’re artists from all over the world — it’s an international race. And I’m so proud that this record … has that recognition. The isolation in the pandemic affected my songwriting process in a way that I wrote a lot, but I couldn’t complete the songs. I had this feeling that with having nobody to play them to, the songs felt pointless. I write for communication and honestly, I don’t write alone.

There are numerous collaborations on this album. Do you feel there needs to be a deep connection with those you write with?

Yes, songwriting is very intimate. I consider [Ruben] Blades a friend, but he is [also] one of my main references. He is the most complete Spanish-language songwriter I’ve ever met. C. Tangana is amazing, too — he’s the most interesting composer of his generation with Rosalía and Bad Bunny, who I admire very much. But “Tocarte” [C. Tangana] and I wrote that song in six hours in one afternoon and it was finished, like you hear it today. We only added maybe a piece of his vocals later, but the song was actually made that first day.

Is there one song on the album that set it all in motion for you?

The record’s opening track, “El Plan Maestro” [featuring Blades], was the first song I wrote for the album. It was co-written with my cousin, who is an astrophysicist from Venezuela. We grew up together and I asked her for inspiration — and she had this incredible view of the universe but from a scientific point of view. She said to me: “Did you know that love wasn’t always there?” and then proceeded to explain that we as biological entities invented love some millions of years ago when for the first time two cells decided to merge together to make one new being made by the combination of two other beings — so technically, that’s where the concept of love was born.

Do you often bring your background in medicine to your music-making?

For a long time, I thought I wasted 10 years of my life in medical school, but I’ve been making music since I was 5 years old. So, at some point, I thought I shouldn’t have gone to school, but from my seventh record on, I started introducing scientific views of love and the universe to my songwriting and it’s become a fixture of mine. I found a language of my own, which I think is the most important thing for an artist. I see it more as a craft than as an art, sometimes.

Are you able to write while on tour?

When I’m touring, I’m enjoying the tour. I’m going out and seeing shows. Like in Puerto Rico, we saw Bomba Estereo and went out and danced to reggaeton; we went surfing in San Juan as well. I really enjoy the road and enjoy playing and being with my band, so I can’t write. I’m not writing right now. The last line I wrote was for a song called “Bendito Desconcierto” from the record — exactly one year ago. I haven’t written one line in one year and it will probably take another year and a half or two years until I feel the urge to write.

I just keep on playing until we do one tour with a band, then usually we do a second tour with just guitar and voice alone — a smaller tour to go to other places that we couldn’t visit the first time. And then when I finish that I stop for a year, I write for a year, and the whole process will take three years — five if you have a pandemic, like in this case. It was out of my control!