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Interview: Juanes

2010-12-21 09:44
Juanes' new album is called "P.A.R.C.E." which translates to "friend" or "pal" in English. But while friendship is its main theme, it also includes songs that reflect his social activism and a few others that reference his own problems, including his once frayed relationship with his wife.

It's the fifth studio album from the 38-year-old Colombian creator of Spanish hits such as "La Camisa Negra" and "A Dios le Pido." Juanes spoke to The Associated Press about the honesty of his lyrics, his family and those whom he still regards as his "true friends," despite his fame and fortune.

AP: "P.A.R.C.E" includes a few love songs in which you talk about things as personal as an infidelity that almost ended your marriage, such as in "Lo Nuestro." Are all your songs autobiographical?

Juanes: Most of the songs are personal stories, things I've been through, or maybe lived by someone close to me. I draw from everything around me, in my home, my children, my friends, the street.

AP: In such a celebrity-obsessed world, have you ever thought twice before releasing a song like this?

Juanes: No, because I feel music is the most honest, beautiful way to tell a personal story like the one in "Lo Nuestro," that speaks about my years of relationship with Karen, my wife, the problems we've been through, the beautiful things we have lived together, and above all to celebrate that reunion, that we are there. ... When I write a song I am not thinking about what is going to happen, but sometimes when I finish I say, "Whoa, did I go too far with my honesty?" But it has to be that way. If you're not going to be honest then why bother making music.

AP: In "Quimera," you touch issues including the violence in Mexico, the killing of dolphins, the political situation in Venezuela and the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. As an activist, what sociopolitical issues move you the most right now?

Juanes: I would say that right now, just what's going with the winter in Colombia and Venezuela (where heavy rains have killed more that 200 people and left thousands homeless). ... But at a social level, inequality is what captures my attention the most. ... Our countries are too unequal: A very few people have too much while too many people have almost nothing. Social injustice is something that's going on everyday in front of our eyes.

AP: In "Amigos," you sing there are few real friends in life. Who are your true friends?

Juanes: True friends ... are that ring of people that surround you from childhood, since kindergarten, those that went with you to school. Then there are those you make in high school, in college, at work ... I have my great lifelong friends ... and also friends like (fellow singers) Juan Luis Guerra, Miguel Bose, (Alejandro) Sanz, Antonio Orozco ... very special people.

AP: Do your childhood friends keep treating you the same way?

Juanes: That's the best thing about those friends! They always treat me like Juan Esteban Aristizabal, the one they have met at home. ... It's a way of being always connected with reality, with your essence. ... True friends are like angels: They're there not to let you fall completely or to help you get back up if you have had a problem.

AP: You are a globetrotter with a full agenda. How do you balance work and family?

Juanes: As the Bible says, there's always a moment for everything in life. Obviously, it is hard to leave home. When I go my kids ask me when I'm coming back and, oh, my heart aches a lot. But I talk to them a lot and I explain to them that daddy is going to work for them. ... They see me happy singing, playing my guitar, and they understand it is part of my nature. We try to manage it the best we can.

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