For Colombian superstar Juanes, playing the first Los Angeles edition of the Budwesier Made In America festival last weekend brought back a lot of memories. “Here my solo career started, so for me to come back and perform at this festival is such a great opportunity,” he said.
“The first time I came to Los Angeles was in 1996. I remember I used to walk a lot through all the streets and take a bus to Santa Monica and just go to the book stores to try to learn English,” he told Billboard backstage. “One of my best memories is when I met my producer at that time, Gustavo Santaolalla, he signed me to Universal Music. So my solo career started in 1999 here.”
Next on his festival schedule is Austin City Limits in October, where he will be playing both weekends. Juanes is a definite fan of the festival circuit as he got to see acts at Made In America he wouldn’t normally see.
“I’m a guitar player, so I really want to see John Mayer cause I really love the way he plays and his style. But I also like hip-hop, so I want to see Kanye (West). The coolest thing about festivals is you can see many different music that you don’t know and probably won’t see any other way.”
With so many artists curating their own festival we asked him for his dream lineup. “Metallica, Pink Floyd, Soda Stereo from Argentina, Michael Jackson, James Brown, Bob Marley is the main stage.”
For now, Juanes is concentrating on his own tour, which he says will go another eight months at least, including a month in Colombia, then Mexico and on and on. Looking back in L.A. to where his solo career started was fitting as on this current tour he is revisiting and reinterpreting his past, inspired by his most recent album, the March release Loco de Amor.
“We’re rearranging the songs in a new perspective closer to what I did on my new album, more acoustically. So that gives a freshness,” he said. “But definitely I love the electric guitar. It’s always different, even if it’s the same song, every night, every day, depending on the crowd it’s totally different.”
Though there were four years before Loco de Amor, the next gap between albums should definitely be considerably less. “I’ve been writing songs now. I don’t know exactly the concept of the sound of the album, but I’m writing melodies and progressions,” he said. That is typical for him though. “When we record music, once we record the album we start to think, ‘Okay, what is next?’”
For Juanes it’s all about the album as a whole, but he is aware of the changing mediums in music, so maybe music will filter out quicker. “These days music business has been changing so it seems like it’s not about the album anymore, which makes me so sad because I really love that,” he said. “It seems like you can have a song maybe every three or four months, just keep going like that for a time. I’m used to, for me to make an album is something very special. But now it’s just about the song. That’s the way it is.”