Monday, March 14, 2011

Jennifer Lopez: It's OK to be out in the Latino music industry (EXCLUSIVE)

I don't do many interviews on this blog. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because I get pitched so many promotional interview opportunities that have little if anything to do with this blog. Perhaps it's because I haven't mastered the art of interviewing. But when the chance came my way to interview the amazing Jennifer Lopez how could I say no?  Her handlers said she wanted to reach out directly to her Latino LGBT fans through this blog and I was thrilled.

Unexpectedly, I got all nervous and stuff. I'd heard La Lopez was a tough interview to do, that she was furiously protective of her privacy and short on answers. So I prepared a long laundry list of 'Yes' or 'No' questions and hoped they'd would be enough for the 10 minute interview.

Turns out I signed up for a whole different interview than I expected and didn't get to ask all the questions I had prepared.  Jennifer was gracious, open and sweet.  What follows is the transcript of our conversation.

BLABBEANDO – Hi Jennifer! This is Andrés Duque from a blog called Blabbeando.
JENNIFER LOPEZ – Hi, how are you…
BLABBEANDO – I’m good. I wanted to introduce myself: I write a blog about the Latino lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community – and I’m a huge fan so I really wanted to thank you for taking this call.
JENNIFER LOPEZ – Absolutely! Thank you for having me.
BLABBEANDO – First of all, as a huge fan, I’m hating you right now because you put the 'Lambada' back in my brain after all these years [JL laughs]. And also, over the weekend, I couldn’t stop saying 'Let me introduce you... to my party people' [JL laughs again]. And I wanted to ask you how do you feel about the impact the song is having this week and how you came along to release it as a single [Currently "On the Floor" is the #1 song and #1 video on I-Tunes].

JENNIFER LOPEZ – What it means? First of all, it’s amazing. I feel totally overwhelmed. It’s not the type of thing like asking people who have been in the business for a while and they’re like “Oh-kay, my record’s out.”
It never gets old when it hits, it’s like ‘YES!’ People like it! I love it! I love it! You know, because you have to believe in your music so when other people get it it’s just awesome. It’s just amazing.
BLABBEANDO – And you’re really busy right now, with "American Idol", so it must be difficult to stop and sit back and enjoy the moment. But, are you enjoying the moment?
JENNIFER LOPEZ – I am. I am. That’s probably what’s different about this album and this time in my life than it was for this album - and my first few albums, I should say. You know, it’s that I’m actually more in the moment now. I’m more mature now and smart enough to not miss it [laughs]. You know what I mean? This is amazing, this is great and I want to really, really want to be present for this whole thing. I’m just… really, I’m enjoying it.
I’m enjoying doing “Idol”. We are having a great time. We are having a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed that process. I find it a very creative process. Back and forth between the contestants and us. And what we can share with them from what we know being in the business for a long time. And I love that.
And the record being out right now at the same time, and that all working, that wasn’t planned per se? I knew I was gonna put out and album this year but I didn’t know when. It worked out. It worked out great and it’s all just working together and it just feels really great. I feel really fortunate, really lucky right now, Andrés.
BLABBEANDO – Now, I know that there was a change when it comes to record companies. Was there a point where the album almost didn’t see the light of day? Because that must have been frustrating, working on an album and having it almost not come out on the market.
JENNIFER LOPEZ – Yeah. That wasn’t the case. The case was that I had come to the end of my contract and I had to decide whether or not to stay with SONY or not stay with SONY and I felt… and I went to SONY and asked them if I could move on.
And they - at that point in time - with the transitions going on within the old company, understood. And I had a good enough relationship with them from having some much success – I had done seven albums over there – that they understood me wanting to do that and, like I said, there were transitions going on. They weren’t prepared to do what they needed to do for me and that album at that time. It was really a mutual ‘Yeah, maybe this is the best thing,’ and we decided to part ways.
And I know people want to make more of it than that. That I was dropped or SONY was messing up. They want to make this really big thing about it. But it really was a conversation between me and one person at the company going ‘I think it’s just time, we’ve run our course and let’s find a new home’ and that’s what happened.
I knew that there were places that I could go and who wanted to work with me, and new fresh blood where I could go to and it happened smoothly and quickly.
BLABBEANDO – Now, the ‘fresh blood’, you’re singing with Pitbull and you have new collaborators and you seem always keep up with the latest [music] styles. And it really sounds fresh. I loved – I can’t even pronounce it but – “Loubutins” and I love “On the Floor” and you’re gearing these songs to a dance music [crowd] and, to some degree to the gay community, because we love dance music. And I think you’ve been really smart in the past to use some of the best dance producers and remixers. Talk to me about how you came to work with Pitbull and what other people you are collaborating vocally in the new album.

JENNIFER LOPEZ – For me, when I go to do my music, there’s always gonna be a mix of all the things that I am. I’m a Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx. You know what I mean? And here’s always gonna be a mix of dance and urban in my stuff – and pop music - so once you throw all that stuff into the bag then it’s all about me just being myself.
So whenever I work with different producers – I worked with RedOne on a lot of the tracks in the album – and with him it was like ‘Let’s do some great dance tracks’. When I worked with Tricky and Dream, I went to them and I said ‘Let’s do my kind of more urbany-feel pop-record’ and I go to different producers for different things – but it all has to be very ‘me’.
It doesn’t work with every single producer you go in there with, you know what I mean? [laughs]. You go in there and nothing happens. But sometimes, like with RedOne or Tricky and Dream you go in there and in a week you make five, six, seven records. And with the records that actually worked, that are in the album – a lot of Tricky and Dream, a lot of RedOne – those are the ones that you have a lot of chemistry with.
BLABBEANDO - I also wanted to ask you, because in the past you’ve been a professional friend and a personal friend… Last year there was actually a number of people in the Latino music industry that came out as being gay or lesbian, and they include, of course, Ricky Martin but also Angelo Garcia, who was also a former Menudo, Lisa M who did salsa way back in Puerto Rico and now is doing reggateon, and Rita Indiana who is a tremendous up-and-coming talent from the Dominican Republic. So you have all these performers – mostly from the Caribbean – Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic – coming out. I wanted to know how you felt about Ricky’s tremendous step to come out as well as what the moment means in terms of… is the Latino music industry changing and making it safe for people to say who they are?
JENNIFER LOPEZ – Right. Are you asking me if I think it’s safer now?
JENNIFER LOPEZ – I just think it’s a reflection of the real world we live in. And it’s OK to be out. I do think it is. I do think it’s acceptable for people to be who they are. I am a huge advocate of that. In that sense, that’s the only way we can truly love ourselves, it’s by accepting who we are and letting everybody know who we are.
So, I’m very proud – you know – I’m friends with Ricky and I’m very proud of him and support him in everything he does. And all these people who have been... who want to step forward and tell the world who they are… I think that’s awesome.
BLABBEANDO – I also know you’ve been a longtime ally. You’ve always kept the gay community in mind in terms of the music you release and I know you know we are some of your biggest fans so…
JENNIFER LOPEZ – Absolutely…
BLABBEANDO - …I personally wanted to thank you for that as well.
JENNIFER LOPEZ – Absolutely. I mean, I had an aunt who was gay. I grew up with it. It’s just to me, being around dancers my whole life, you know? There’s a lot of dancers as well who are gay and it’s just not… For me it was never even anything as an issue. I had uncles… It was just seeing people were people. And it wasn’t one way or the other for me.
BLABBEANDO – That’s right. I think sometimes we – in the Latino community – we are your brothers, your sisters, etcetera, etcetera, we are part of the family. It’s more open than I think people give it credit for, at least in the Latino community.
BLABBEANDO - Now, going back to the album: What’s the next single? Have you decided on that? Will there be different singles released to the Latino market and the American market?
JENNIFER LOPEZ – Well, we have a lot of plans for the album as things go along. We have three different choices that we can do as a second single and it’s really hard for us to choose. We think we know what we are doing and then at the last minute we might change it [laughs]. But we are shooting a video very soon with Li’l Wayne on one song called “I’m Into You” but there’s another song called “Papi” and there’s another song called “Run the World”. So there are a few songs that we are thinking about as a second single. And we might release some simultaneously: Some are more urban, some are more dance. And, also, we are releasing very soon – or if it’s not released already, I don’t even know if it happened in the past day or two – the Spanish version of “On the Floor”…
BLABBEANDO – That’s great…
JENNIFER LOPEZ – Pitbull did a new version of his rap in Spanish and I re-sang the whole thing in Spanish as well. We are gonna do a Spanglish version where we mix in the Spanish. And then we are probably gonna do a whole Spanish version of the album. So – We have a lot of plans for it.
BLABBEANDO – Well, I know my ten minutes are up but I really wanted to thank you for taking my call.
JENNIFER LOPEZ – Thank you, Andrés, I really appreciate it so much.



Anonymous said...

great interview Andres!!

kisses from

att, Toni!

Mike said...

I think Jennifer is gorgeous. I've always been a big fan of her music. Her voice is so beautiful and unique.

Unknown said...

Congratulations ! Great interview