At 41, Juan Esteban Aristizabal (Juanes) has won more than a score of music awards. There is no question in anyone’s mind that this number might be about to increase, since his new CD (Loco de Amor), contains all the elements needed to attract more fans and music critics. Except for one song that has an existential edge (Persiguiendo el sol), the album is totally dedicated to love, featuring 11 songs that discuss love and every one of its dimensions and perspectives. Or, as Juanes says: “It’s the description of the love that leads to insanity, obsession or joy. It’s every expression of love.”
A couple of days ago, the Colombian singer sat down to chat with Qué Rica Vida about this album and about his current pleasures and concerns. He’s pleased, he said, with his fans’ loyalty and with the resounding success of his five previous albums. But he’s worried about finding the perfect balance in his life. What does he want to balance and how is he looking to do it? He explains it here… “I work a lot, all the time. It’s like I can’t stay still,” he said at the beginning of our interview. “Last year, we went on tour, I came back and recorded this album.
Despite all that happiness, Juanes can’t help but worry. “I love my job and it brings me great joy, but it demands a lot of my time, and that also worries me. I worry about being home with my kids more, watching them grow, playing with them, being with my wife, Karen. So that’s my struggle, to continue working, but also be present as a father.” “It’s not easy, but I’ve decided not to be away from home longer than a month. I don’t even think about leaving home for too long anymore. I rather get on a plane and travel no matter how far, but come back home. Coming and going is not easy when you’re touring, but it’s worse if I don’t do it because it drives me crazy.”
When Juanes is not touring or working, he values the importance of eating together as a family. Some of the best life lessons you can instill in your children come about at the dinner table, he says. “We always talk to our children about the importance of food – not only as a source of nutrition, but as a blessing in itself. We explain to them that it’s a gift we don’t all have and that they should therefore appreciate it. Food is not meant to be played with, sneered at or much less thrown away. It has value. It’s important. It’s a gift from God, a privilege.
” While he’s on the subject of food, one can’t help but wonder: Does this Spanish-language rock and pop star know anything about cooking? He responds with a laugh.
“Cooking? (laughter). I’m not very experienced, but of course I’ve had to cook at some point in my life. And I can survive. I have my key recipes: rice, beans, sandwiches, eggs, French fries! And if I have an easy-to-follow recipe, I can venture to make soups, pizza.” He says it’s something he does at least once a year, since he likes to surprise his family by making pizza when he goes on vacation with his kids to Medellín. “The kids love it when I make pizza, even though we all end up working on it. That’s when that cooking moment becomes a family moment, an adventure with friends, an experience that brings us together.”
At the table, the only thing that’s different is the menu. Juanes became a vegetarian about 8 months ago, but his wife and children aren’t. “They eat fish or chicken, and I eat my vegetables or grains, eggs or cheese. I quit soda for good, as well as sugar and meat, something I’ve always wanted to do. The result is that I feel great, more energized for everything I do.”
He does confess, however, that he’s not immune to temptation. And, even though it had not happened up until our interview, he could “succumb” to culinary temptation. “I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but if I come across a tres leches or a flan, I will have a very hard time saying ‘no.’ And if I were to stop counting calories, I will tell you that I can’t resist pizza, a veggie burger or French fries. No way! French fries are my weakness.”
Photos courtesy of Universal