Juanes needs no introduction, but let's give him one nonetheless. The Colombia-born and raised singer-songwriter has won 20 Latin GRAMMY and two GRAMMY awards. His music has penetrated the hearts of many and inspired the lives of several people around the world.
Earlier this month, he released Chasing the Sun, a book that shares his life. It's also available in Spanish, Persiguiendo el sol. In it, Juanes depicts pictures never seen before, anecdotes, and his journeys involving his passion: music.
While he visited Los Angeles during a promotional book tour, Campus Circle was granted a one-on-one in person interview with Juanes. He talked about his book, what L.A. means to him, fashion, education, social media and his hobbies, among other things.
Campus Circle: How do you give birth to Chasing the Sun?
Juanes: The book project was born out of a photography project. We had thought about making a coffee table-type book with photographs of tours, backstage, and concerts. However, during the process, we realized we were looking to feature more facts in the book, and so I decided to embark on this task and just started writing. It's the first time I've done anything like this. It required me to travel back to many memories I hadn't visited in a very long time. While I wrote, we also began to compile photographs, and I talked to friends until we ended up with the final product – a mix of the two: photography, which is what we started out with, and the book.
CC: What's the biggest difference between writing a book such as this, and composing a song?
J: When you're writing a book, there's no limit as to how long time-wise it has to be, or limitations on rhythms, accents, etc. like there are in songs. In a song, I first write the melody, and then put the lyrics on top of the melody. But in books, since they lack both of those, there are no such limitations. I can go running through a field, and then write a book about how it felt, with as intricate details as I wished, about everything that happened and everything I saw, etc. Towards the end, I felt this process of writing the book turned into a form of therapy for me.
CC: Would you describe the book as an act of gratitude on your part to your fans?
J: Absolutely. We wanted to forge and maintain a connection to our fans, one that was a bit more special and more profound than just songs.
CC: This book features photographs that have never been seen before. Was it difficult for you to show them?
J: Not at all. It was a very cool experience. It was very special, and a way to show my fans another manner of appreciation.
CC: Your U.S. tour, “LOUD & Unplugged,” begins in May. Every time you’re on tour, Los Angeles figures to be one your scheduled cities. What has the city meant for you and your career?
J: It's meant a lot. It's a city that when I first arrived, was very difficult for me. I went through many bad moments, many bad experiences. But later, it changed my life. So I love this city. I love coming here to work, and coming here to perform, and luckily I get to come here and record my albums.
CC: What do you like the most about L.A.?
J: I love all the mountains, the weather, the professionalism and culture that exist in the studio aspect of the music business. I love the availability of instruments and musicians as well.
CC: Since your time with Ekhymosis, how have you grown as an artist?
J: I feel it's been a constant evolution for me. Today, I am more certain about what it is that I want, more willing to take risks, more calm.
CC: What does fashion mean to you and how does it impact how you transcend to your audience?
J: It has a big significance. It really does. It's fundamental. It's very important for me, for example, that the day of a concert, I'm wearing something that I feel completely comfortable in. If not, I'll feel insecure – from the shoes, to my underwear and my t-shirt, pants, etc. I can't go up on stage with just any shirt, any pair of pants, etc. It might seem weird, but it's very important.
CC: Is it possible that one day, your fans can expect something from you that's completely in English?
J: I haven't really thought about making an album in English only. But for the next album, we're thinking about including 3 or 4 songs in English, and we’ll see what happens.
CC: What does social media mean to you?
J: It means a lot. It's been a way for me to connect directly with my fans without middlemen. It's something very special with immediate gratification. It's also been a process in that I've had to figure out how to use them, but I love it.
CC: What are some of your hobbies?
J: I love sports. When I'm home, I love playing basketball with my little girls, or riding bicycles. or running. The rest of the time, honestly, I'm just doing music. For me, playing guitar and recording is like a hobby as well.
CC: How important is education for you?
J: It's a great advantage not just here (U.S.), but in any country. It's something fundamental and it's not just what you learn in a classroom. It's everything that happens around you. It also comes from home, and the love you receive. It's just another way of learning how to interact with the world.
CC: What kind of music do you like to listen to?
J: A little bit of everything, from electronic to classical, rock, folk music. I love all music and I appreciate all genres, and I enjoy learning from what I listen to.
CC: Where do you draw your inspiration when you write your songs?
J: First, music comes, and the inspiration for the lyrics comes at a magical moment because you really don't know where or when it'll come. I can be playing my guitar, and playing a couple of chords, and then all of the sudden it sounds great, and I go from there. I draw lyrics from the melodies I compose, and then I arrange them to fit.
CC: You now live in Miami, but what do you miss the most about Medellín?
J: I live in Miami, and I do miss Medellín. I miss the mountains. I miss the people, the food and my university friends, my dogs. But while we may travel a lot, we always carry Colombia in our hearts.
CC: What's your diet like on a daily basis to stay fit?
J: I eat a full breakfast: eggs, cereal. Then, I'll have a full lunch. Honestly, I’m not really watching what I eat, but I rarely eat at night.
CC: Any advice for youngsters who might want to follow in your footsteps?
J: Follow your heart. Always know that it's worth trying. It's one of the few ways to survive it all.
Persiguiendo el sol/Chasing the Sun are now available. Juanes is scheduled to perform on Saturday, May 25 at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live at 8 p.m. For more information on Juanes, visit www.juanes.net.