After three years since the release of his last album “Loco De Amor,” Colombian singer and songwriter Juanes is back with “Mis Planes son Amarte (My Plans Are To Love You),” the first major visual album by a Latin performer.
In his latest project, directed by Kacho Lopez Mari, the Latin superstar plays ‘Javier,’ a Colombian archeologist turned astronaut who is haunted by dreams and memories of his ancestral indigenous soul mate. With his archeology team by his side and an artifact serving as a clue, Javier embarks on a voyage in the pursuit of eternal love, transcending time and space, traveling through different decades, in a very “Back to the Future” style.
Although the story begins in Mexico, it ends where it all started for Juanes, in his native Medellin, Colombia; the land that raised him and instilled much of what makes up the essence of who he is and of that distinctive ‘Juanes’ sound.
Throughout the film, you will recognize a few faces making a cameo such as Puerto Rican super model Joann Smalls, who plays his modern day leading lady; singers Jesse and Joy; our previous issue’s cover boy J Balvin; Fonseca, who is featured in one of the songs and legendary soccer player Juan Pablo Angel, amongst many others.
Following the release of the visual album, HBO Latino premiered ‘The Juanes Effect: De Canciones y Transformaciones.” The special explores the effect of Juanes’ passion for music on everyone around him. Through personal interviews, audiences get an intimate look into the life of Juan Esteban Aristizabal, his hometown, family, social work and the journey to becoming one of the most influential people in the world, as recognized by TIME magazine.
We sat down with Juanes in his gorgeous Key Biscayne home. A place filled with the ocean breeze and an array of guitars– (including one signed by all the members of Metallica). You’ll come across a vintage wooden piano with his children’s music notes on it, a variety of art pieces and countless plaques recognizing his achievements on the walls that lead to his recording studio.
TFB: Congratulations on the release of your latest project, Mis Planes Son Amarte. Tell me about the concept and inspiration that led you to create a visual album.
Juanes: The album is composed of 12 songs and it is accompanied by the visual part, which includes 12 videos and narrative bridges so the songs are connected and correlate with each other as well as with the videos. It is kind of a film. The idea to create a visual album was a result of how happy we were with the music and that eventually inspired us to take it to another level and create something bigger.
TFB: The plot is very interesting, especially the connection made between the future and the ancestral, as your character Javier the astronaut travels through time and space to reunite with this indigenous woman that is his one true love. There is also a scene where you drink “Ayahuasca”, a powerful plant-based drink that causes hallucinations.
Juanes: Every thing you see in the visual album is a topic that I am intrigued by. The earthly, ancestral and indigenous subjects, the extraterrestrial life, the future, science, the planets and the universe. These are all topics that I’m very passionate about and that I believe in. So we tried to create a story that had a lot to do with these themes and would be coherent. The songs basically ended up being soundtracks of that character by the name of Javier that I portray.
TFB: What is the overall message you are trying to deliver in this narrative.
Juanes: The concept has a lot to do with what we live day by day. We are all in the pursuit of happiness, in search of eternal love and the answers to all of our questions, and how do we find these? We use our intuition. We listen to our hearts, which guide us through life, helping us make the big decisions. The message this album has is that love transcends through time and it becomes eternal.
TFB: In this album you had the opportunity to work with Sky, Mosty and Bull Nene, a group of young producers from your native Medellin that are behind almost every urban/reggaeton song hit on the radio and who are also the go-to producers for Latin superstar J Balvin. Being that your sound falls into the pop/rock genres, how did this collaboration come about?
Juanes: More than belonging to one specific genre, I am a musician. I love music and I listen to a little bit of everything. With them it was like an experiment. When Rebeca Leon, my manager, who also manages Sky, proposed the idea of working with them I wasn’t really sure at first whether it was the right thing to do. But once I met the guys and we began working together, that very first day was absolute magic; there was an instant click between us. They knew perfectly well I wasn’t going to make any reggaeton and that that wasn’t the purpose of our collaboration.
TFB: Aside from working with these incredibly talented guys, you also worked with Poo Bear, the singer/songwriter behind hits like Justin Bieber’s “What Do You mean.” How was it recording in English?
Juanes: Recording “Goodbye For Now” was a very unique experience. I had never really had the audacity, you could say, to record and sing in English in one of my own albums. I just fell in love with this song and said “why not, this is the right time to do it.
TFB: Working with someone as brilliant as Poo Bear must have been sublime. After all, he’s the pen behind many of Usher and Chris Brown’s hits as well.
Juanes: It truly was, he’s an amazing individual, extremely talented and kind.
TFB: You have an HBO Latino special premiering May 19 called “The Juanes Effect: De Canciones y Transformaciones,” tell me a little bit about it.
Juanes: The HBO special is a documentary that shows the human side of the music. It takes you on a trip to my hometown, Medellin, and we visit the house where I grew up. We go back to the place where it all began for me, walking through the streets I used to pass by every day. You get to see my mother, my family and friends from school, Sky, Mosty and Bull, you learn a little bit about the Mi Sangre Foundation and a side of me that I haven’t really ever shared in the past. On top of that we did a concert especially for HBO where I performed songs from the new album that follows the documentary.
TFB: I will definitely be tuning in. Walking through your home, which is stunning by the way, I can’t help but come across a guitar in almost every part of it. I noticed one in particular with some signatures by the members of Metallica hanging by your studio.
Juanes: The company BMI actually gave me that guitar as a gift and for me it is super important because they are one of my favorite bands of all time. A big part of what inspired me to become a musician was how much they inspired me in general; how they lived their life, everything about them. That guitar is very significant to me. I actually don’t collect them or anything in particular, although I do own some art. I have so many because each one has a distinct sound that allows for different textures of music. The thing is that you can own 100 guitars and if you don’t have a single idea to put them to use then you have nothing.