Saturday, August 04, 2012

Interview: 10 thoughts from Enrique Iglesias, now touring with Jennifer Lopez

When it comes to collaborations, Enrique Iglesias rules as the ultimate music-action hero.
“Euphoria” (2010), his most recent disc, teams the Latin pop star with no less than six other music muscle men, including Usher on “Dirty Dancer,” Akon on “One Day at a Time” and Pitbull on “I Like It” (with a cameo from Lionel Richie, whose “All Night Long” provides the song’s hook). Toss in the Pussycat Dolls’ Nic­ole Scherzinger, tropical Latin icon Juan Luis Guerra and Yandel of reggaeton powerhouse Wisin y Yandel, and it’s like Iglesias is starring in a music version of the “Expendables” franchise, with Enrique as Sly, of course. 

Now he’s off on the biggest collaboration of them all: a co-headlining tour with Jennifer Lopez, which stops Friday at the United C8xh70Y6N_U_CryOsw6FTOdKL_jpQ-&CONTENTTYPE=image/jpeg" />

When it comes to collaborations, Enrique Iglesias rules as the ultimate music-action hero.
“Euphoria”ver. I can’t record while I’m on the road.”

Here are the top 10 soundbites from our interview:
1 Jenny from the Block” travels with lots of neighborhood buds:  
“Yeah, it’s a big entourage, there’s a lot of people, but she’s a sweetheart. She’s a perfectionist and a total professional. ... She has a gifted smile. You could be in a bad mood or she could be telling you off, but then she smiles, and you’re like, well, OK.” Just like she did when she guest-starred on “Will & Grace”? [Laughs] “Oh, I never watched those shows.”
2 A little music festival in Grant Park doesn’t faze him: 
“Yeah, I noticed we’re here on the opening day of Lollapalooza. But they appeal to a different audience. Of course, the fewer events [you’re competing against] the better it is. But the show’s great, and the tour has been going so well so far.”
3 Chicago’s his kind of town, even if they don’t always play his songs on the radio: 
“People have to remember that radio is a business. So if makes more sense to add a third regional Mexican music station [and shut down the city’s Latin pop outlet], then it’s hard to argue with that. Besides, Chicago has always been good to me. I started out on Fonovisa [a regional Mexican label], and the Mexican stations were always very loyal.”
4 The best collaborations are spontaneous:
 “Sometimes a collaboration works, sometimes it doesn’t. Like ‘Cuando Me Enamoro’ with Juan Luis Guerra. A lot of its success had to do with [work] after the song was written. If you try to plot everything out in advance, the song gets pressured, and it doesn’t come out right.”
5 Ryan and Randy can forget about putting out the welcome mat for him on “American Idol”:
 “I’ve been asked this question a billion times in the last week. No way would I replace Jennifer on ‘American Idol.’ But I think she did great. It must really be tough if you’re a known artist. If you’re a label exec or a newcomer, it might be good exposure. But once they know you, it’s a tough, tough job.”
6 Though he’s worked with Pitbull, Akon and Lil Wayne, he doesn’t think he’s moved to a harder sound: 
“Pitbull is pop as it gets now. I still love ballads like ‘Hero’ [one of his biggest hits], but in the last four years, I haven’t felt comfortable with any of the ballads I’ve written in English. For ‘I Like It,’ I went through so much with that song and went through such a transition. I told my label, this is the song. They told me, ‘You’re crazy. It’s never going to work.’ I had it for three years on the shelf and I even changed labels [because of the disagreement]. When I wake up, I’m really moody. But I’d play this song and perk up because it was like an energy blast. My gut told me that it had something.”
7 Lionel Richie did him a solid for “I Like It”:
“I originally sampled his vocals [from ‘All Night Long’] but it didn’t work. So I called him immediately, and he came right to the studio to re-record it. It was surreal to watch him re-record lines from his most recognized song. I watched him and thought, ‘This guy’s the s---.’ And here’s another example of how things can come together during a project. You could never plan that.”
8 Not every Latin music star has an alcohol product to promote:
even though Pitbull was just here touting his vodka and now Iglesias co-owns Atlantico Rum: “The rum thing was pretty organic; one of my best friends started this brand. I wasn’t a rum drinker but I fell in love with it. I’m bad when it comes to promoting brands, but I was really passionate about this.”
9 Though Iglesias has a signature look:
baseball cap, jeans and boots — don’t expect him to go Kanye and start designing or endorsing clothes: “I wouldn’t be the one to do it. When you’re dealing with big companies, there’s always compromise. If I had some artistic freedom, that would be one thing. But I’m not going to do it just because I’m getting a big check.”
10 He takes fame in stride:
 “If you would have asked me when I start­ed if I’d still be at this 15 years later, I wouldn’t have believed it. I still don’t know how I’m going to handle it [long term]. I really haven’t, it’s kinda scary. I love what I do and still can’t believe I get paid for it. Well, the performing, but the promotion — that’s another matter. But in the end, you are a piece of meat. The minute you go a little bad, it’s over. You’re only as good as your last hit.”

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