While the world tries to figure out the meaning behind every lyric and video, who he’s dating at this very moment, and what surprise he could drop next, Maluma is, well, chilling. In our latest issue, the Colombian superstar reflects on the importance of slowing down and reconnecting.
Maluma is ready to perform for you now. From the elevator doors of a penthouse duplex emerges the 26-year-old Colombian superstar. Wearing designer head to toe, he radiates swagger and sex appeal. A brooding sensuality precedes his every movement. Today’s hair is freshly shorn and bleached. (Last week it was dyed pink.) The entourage follows: a publicist, a personal photographer and two other young women who have a “don’t fuck with me” vibe and absurdly cool style. Juan Luis—as his team calls him—is no diva, but he is no mere mortal either. It appears that the team is here to make sure you are very aware of that distinction.
And then Maluma looks you straight in the eyes, asks to shake your hand (it is still very much coronavirus season) and makes it abundantly clear that above all else, this is a young man with very good manners and a superstar self-assuredness.
The last six months have been an interesting ride for Maluma. On the front end of the global pandemic, he was kicking off his 11:11 Wold Tour in Dubai and forced to cancel the remainder of the shows. On what is hopefully the back end of the pandemic, he’s celebrating the success of a new album, Papi Juancho, that was conceived while in isolation on his farm in Colombia. We have caught him between those two distinct realities: global superstar and family boy.
Congratulations on the album release. Tell us how you came to surprise your fans with a new album in the middle of the pandemic.
Well, actually the pandemic and everything affected me in a very good way. I was in Europe and I had to stop everything and go back to Colombia. It had been six years of being on tour every year. And to suddenly have to stop it all was a big change. I had a chance to share some time with my family. It was in Colombia that I started creating the whole concept of Papi Juancho, the whole album. I had time to think again. I thought about what I wanted to do and how I wanted my fans to see me. And that’s how I started the concept. I was doing Colombia, I went back to my roots, and I went back to the sound that I started doing 10 years ago.
What’s life like for you in Colombia?
I love it because every time I go to Colombia, I go to my farm. I have horses, a bunch of animals, dogs, sheep, cows…
So are you like riding horses and milking cows all day?
Yeah, yeah, everything. I have this farm where I’m always super dirty. I don’t really like taking showers there, you know; I just go to the lake. I go and swim. You know that’s something that I really liked doing there in Colombia—just living a normal life milking the cows, riding my horses. I have like 25 horses on the farm and this guy that teaches me how to ride the different kinds of horses. I feel like a kid when I’m there. It’s awesome.
That’s amazing—and surprising to me for some reason. What would you say is the biggest misconception people have about you?
Well, it is crazy because people think they know you but they don’t know. They don’t know a lot about me.
Berluti jacket and turtleneck, Design District.
But with the millions of people following you on social media every day, you do have a unique connection with your fans.
Right now I do feel very connected to my fans. I love reading the comments. I love reading their tweets. Every time they reply to a tweet that I posted or an Instagram, I take the time to read all the comments and opinions.
How do you decide what to share on social media?
There are a lot of things that I don’t really like showing. I feel like, for me, it’s very important to keep my life private, to keep certain things for me. That’s kind of magical too. So I like to share some details of my life, but not all of it.
A few days ago you shared a cooking video with the comment ‘Papi Juan Chef.’ For some reason it surprised me a little.
Oh, yeah. I didn’t want to post that, actually. I took the video, I took the pictures. And I was like, ‘OK, maybe my fans are gonna like if I post this.’ And then at the end of the day, I did it because there are some things that people really want to know about your private life. And that was a private moment.
Sometimes the less you share, the more eager your fans are to uncover hidden messages. Talk to me about the reaction to the “Hawai” video. Did people read too much into it?
I had the opportunity to write the script of the video with Jessy Terrero, and I really love doing that. The reactions to the video were great; people love the song and video. And all the drama that happened when I released it was great. It was a perfect marketing. They thought that I was dedicating the song to my ex-girlfriend and all that and whatever. That’s not true; that’s not real. But everything helped at the end of the day.
Speaking of girlfriends… you play J.Lo’s love interest in the upcoming film Marry Me. What was that like?
Working with Jennifer Lopez was beautiful, amazing. Also Owen Wilson, amazing. This is my first acting project, and the whole Marry Me crew treated me like family. And yeah, I’m her boyfriend, but I’m not going to tell you a lot of other details. We’re gonna wait for it, so you guys can enjoy. Me and Jennifer have some big things coming out—and it’s not only the movie. I can’t reveal much. But it’s coming, and you’re gonna love it.
We are doing this interview in English, but on the set of your cover shoot, when you were filming the behind-the-scenes video, you spoke Spanish. You said, ‘I am proud of being Latin.’
I really feel very proud of being Latin and speaking Spanish and singing Spanish. That’s how I want to conquer the world, singing in Spanish. This is something that I dreamed about a long time ago. I want to go to Asia, I want to go to different places in the world, but I want to do my concerts singing in Spanish, and I want to see everybody around the world singing my songs in Spanish. I think that what is happening right now is the Latin music.
Versace top and bottom, Design District, Sunglasses, Maluma’s own.
Latinos are one of the most important voting blocs in the November election. Is there any message you would like to send to your fans?
Vote, vote, vote. I can’t vote here because I am not a U.S. citizen. But I would say that as a Latin culture, as a Latin population, we all have to use our power and vote for the guy that is actually going to help us. So yeah, I would say that everybody who is reading this or listening to this, vote and make the right choice.
Let’s talk about your style. You’ve been referred to as ‘fashion’s hottest new muse.’
I always, always loved fashion. Since I was a kid I always wanted to dress myself and used to choose my outfits. So when I started my career, I felt fashion was another way to show my fans who I am. I’ve worked with Dior with Kim Jones; I did the campaign with Calvin Klein, then the Balmain project. They understand my vision. So there are a couple of things that you guys will get to know pretty soon. I have a couple of projects that are going to be big. Next year is going to be big.
Another surprise for your fans?
[Laughs] Yes, we have lots of surprises coming.
Photography by: Photographed and Art Directed by PHRAA; Styled by Danny Santiago