EXCLUSIVE: Juanes Takes Us to Colombia & Beyond in His HBO Latino Special

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HBO Latino is giving viewers a first class flight to MedellÍn to meet one of today’s biggest Latin music artists, Juanes, with The Juanes Effect: De Canciones Y Transformaciones.

His multi-platinum journey in the industry began nearly three decades ago, but Juanes’ truest staple as a creative genius surfaced earlier this year with his visual album, Mis Planes Son Amarte. The pictorial project is the first of its kind in Latin music – and its warped out-of-this-world astronaut love plot left Juanes’ fans beyond the stars.

With his first single “Fuego” already reaching number one in 17 countries, his upcoming tour is destined to achieve sell-out success. Still, the most inspiring aspect of his artistry is his modesty and dedication to his people. The Juanes Effect: De Canciones y Transformaciones offers viewers an intimate look at the Colombiano's hometown, political activism, late-night studio sessions, children’s charitable endeavors, and even a seat at the table with his wife and kids.

We sat down with Juanes at the screening of The Juanes Effect: De Canciones Y Transformaciones, which premieres tonight on HBO Latino, check out what he had to say.

You’ve been doing this for almost three decades. When you went solo in '97, what did you anticipate?

I came to New York City by myself. I was very stressed and anxious about my future. I was dreaming all the time and I still dream all the time. I never thought it was going to be like this one day. Thankfully, when I was trying to create opportunities, I was making breakthrough music and developing my sound.

You walked us through your old stomping grounds, what was it like coming back to the neighborhood in Colombia where you grew up?

It was incredible! You know, I visit Colombia often but in this case, it was very special because I went to a few places I hadn’t visited within the last 20 years. Fans are going to see my old house in the documentary. They’ll get to see my mother — it was great to be with her — and they’ll meet my friends. They’re all the people that were around me while recording ‘Mis Planes Son Amarte.’ It was the perfect time to share with my fans the human side of my songs.

On The Juanes Effect: De Canciones Y Transformaciones you mentioned finding your brother’s lute for the first time. What was that experience like?

I was young and home sick from school. I remember being bored and unsure of what to with myself, so I ended up in my brothers’ room. That’s where I found the lute. It’s an Italian guitar. It was missing three strings but it sounded beautiful. I remember stroking it like “Wow! This is so amazing and it felt powerful. I was connected to music from that point on. I started to ask my mom and older brothers how to learn to play guitar.

You frequently promote peace with your music and throughout Colombia, why is this so important to you?

It is so important to me because I was born in Colombia in 1972. I lived in MedellÍn during the most conflicted time of my city, in the ‘80s-‘90s. I don’t know what it is like to live in a peaceful country. I see my voice as an opportunity to inspire Colombians, and I really believe in art as a way to do that.

Your HBO Latino special showed you working with the children’s program, what’s your mission with PAZalobien?

Art changed my life in a positive way and I want to do the same with children who are affected by violence. Hopefully, we can be effective by not singling anyone out and provide tools to limit these violent occurrences. I’ve watched these Colombian foundations grow and have been active with Fundacion Mi Sangre for 11 years. It’s my way of giving back.

Speaking of art, your special highlights you seeing colors in melodies. Can you explain that?

When I create music I imagine a blank canvas. I can see every piece of the music as a color, texture or line. I imagine the melodies on the canvas. I’ll add my arrangements next. I can add shadows and lights to my sound. It all depends on the song. Music is like drawing my feelings.

Both The Juanes Effect and Mis Planes Son Amarte have an upbeat, feel-good vibe. Where are you in your personal life?

Like that, I have a good vibe. That’s why the music on the new album and feeling of my documentary are the same. I am very positive and optimistic, also, nostalgic a little bit after the trip. This represents my optimal happiness, for me, that’s important. We are not always in that place, so while I am here, it’s good to take advantage of that.

The astronaut searching for love on your album was a unique concept. How did this story come about?

The concept of the universe, extraterrestrial life, and the planet based on science is something I really love. When we were producing this visual album I wanted to create something that connected with my essence. That’s why I’m the astronaut. [Laughs] A Colombian astronaut came to life.

That’s interesting because The Juanes Effect shows a great emphasis on spiritualism. You mentioned your family praying with their rosaries nightly — how has this pushed your drive for your music?

My faith is incredibly powerful. Now that I am grown up, I’ve separated from institutions — the church and Catholicism. Today my faith is more personal, my way to understand God or energy is based on experiences. Because of the faith, my mother taught me through religion, I decided to fight for my dreams. I follow my heart, so my faith is very important.

What has been your most rewarding experience from this journey?

To connect with my past and essence. I’ve connected with who I am and who I was. The documentary shows my old house, my city, my old neighbors, friends — that’s what makes me feel like ‘Hey! This is who I am.’ I don’t want to forget that, ever.

What is your message to other Latinos?

Latinos, we should feel proud of who we are. We need to know where we come from, our roots, our families, our traditions — just be proud of who you are.

This is a crowning moment in your career. What is next for you?

What is next for me is planning my album tour, that’s the next step. My team is excited about it!

Who is Juanes?

Wow! I am Juanes Aristizábal, born in MedellÍn, Colombia. I come from a big family and I am full and passionate about life! I want people to know about my music. People can interpret the information how they want. That’s the coolest thing about music, it’s like air. We all breathe differently. For me, it’s very personal.