Live In Your Living Room
talks about her new performance DVD, her love of AC/DC, and how
chickens changed her eating habits.
by Brian Ives & C. Bottomley
never really sure what to expect from Shakira, and she certainly
proves that on her new DVD/CD combo Live and Off the Record. One
minute she's belting out a hit like "Whenever, Wherever"
from her breakthrough album Laundry Service. Then she kicks fresh
life into AC/DC's "Back in Black." Or plays the drums.
Or reveals that she "feels nostalgia for things I have never
Can't exactly say what
that means, but one thing's for sure: Shakira has personality
to spare. Live and Off the Record accommodates her public and
private sides. It's both a concert film and a documentary that
captures such off-the-cuff moments as writing in the studio with
her band or canoodling with her fiancé. All of her live
performances are also found on the accompanying CD.
The Latin singer took
time out from recording Laundry Service's follow-up in the Bahamas
to explain why she sometimes feel like a truck driver onstage,
and why the gift of a few chickens inspired her to become a vegetarian
- at least for a little while.
VH1: So this is your
first live DVD.
Shakira: It's as live
as it gets! It's the first time I've documented my performance
in front of an audience in 13 years of a career, so it's pretty
thrilling for me. I'll show it to my kids when I'm all wrinkled
and can barely move, and tell them, "This is your mom. This
is what she used to do." [Watch Clip]
VH1: Why was now the
right time for a live disc?
Shakira: I consider
the performing my strength. I deliver much more on a stage than
in the recording studio. You know how there are actors who consider
themselves more theatrical actors than film or TV actors? That's
sort of the same way I feel. Playing live is when I really connect
to the people who are observing me and accompany me through this
riot of emotions that I go through once I'm on the stage.
VH1: How do you decide
how to balance out the material in your set?
Shakira: My live shows
are a little bit of a ride. I'm like the driver of a big truck
and my fans are all in the back. I'm driving them through different
sensations. I pick my [set list] based on giving them variety
- excitement and melancholy and also some introspection and confrontation.
The ultimate purpose of an artist is to confront yourself and
people through music, because music is like a mirror. I see my
own reflection and I get to know myself a little better. [Watch
VH1: Why did you cover
"Back in Black"?
Shakira: I'm a diehard
AC/DC fan. I kill for '80s music, especially AC/DC. I wanted to
cover that song and it was a perfect opportunity to do it.
VH1: You play guitar
and drums on the DVD. Is it important to show people you can play
Shakira: When I was
10 years old, I started playing the guitar a little bit. I started
playing the harmonica when I was in my teens. Then I went nuts
about the drums. I'm not the greatest drummer, but it's just fun.
Why not to do it throughout the concert, to experience that?
VH1: What do you want
the fans to get out of the documentary portion of Live & Off
Shakira: It's funny
that I let a camera crew hang out with me for so long, because
I try to keep my private life away from gossip and sensationalist
journalism and all that. The documentary is a window that I opened
to my fans so they could get to understand me more. I think my
fans are gonna get to experience and taste what it's like to be
on tour and be Shakira. And it's exhausting to be Shakira, I tell
VH1: How do you stay
fit enough to do a high-energy show like that?
Shakira: What keeps
me really fit is moving around, dancing, and jumping up and down
on the stage. But I'm very lazy about training or getting on a
bicycle for an hour. I just don't have the patience! So usually
when I'm not on the road, I gain a little weight. You might notice
that now! I also try not to eat so many carbs, especially at night.
But I'm not always that good.
VH1: What's your diet
Shakira: I always try
to kind of eat in a balanced way. I became vegetarian not too
long ago. But I quit! [Laughs] It only lasted two months.
VH1: Why did you decide
to go vegan?
Shakira: Right after
the tour was over, I spent a few months in Spain on a farm. The
guy who sells the bread in the town next to my farm gave me three
chickens and a rooster. I felt so attached to those chickens that
I was thinking, "Oh my God, I'm never gonna eat chicken again!
These chickens are my friends!" I gave them names and everything.
Then I said, "OK, why eat chickens just because I don't know
VH1: So what happened?
Shakira: Well, I haven't
seen a chicken in a long time … I mean, alive. That's why
I'm not vegetarian any more.
VH1: How important
is your sense of style to you as an artist?
Shakira: I don't have
so many costume changes as many pop artists do onstage, because
I'm lazy! I'm not as interested in fashion as people might think.
I'm actually going through a phase where I want to free myself
from all the pressure that the media puts on you.
VH1: How are you going
to do that?
feel that once I release this next album, it's going to be a much
smoother ride for me. I'm ready to be more authentic. When I first
tried to crossover to America, I was a little nervous. I was like
the new girl at school who wants to fit in. But I don't feel like
that anymore. I feel like the Americans gave me space and I want
to continue occupying that space. I want to be myself. I'm trying
to be as honest as I can.
Woman Child in the Promised Land
Colombian superstar recounts her rise to the top of pop.
hot, she’s talented, and she’s one of the few people
ever to use the word “laundry” in an album title.
But what’s it really like being Shakira? As VH1's Being
prepared to take a unique look at the Colombian crossover queen,
Isabel Mebarak Ripoll sat down to talk fame, family, and the process
of learning English. As the chat demonstrates, there’s much
more to this young songwriter than meets the eye.
VH1: So what’s
it really like being Shakira?
I feel that Shakira is an old woman trapped in the body of a 24-year-old
girl. Sometimes I feel that there’s a baby inside me that
hasn’t grown up yet. So Shakira can be a very confusing
VH1: Why do
you think you’re like an old woman inside a young woman’s
I feel full of theories. I don’t necessarily go through
the experience of something, because I’ve already decided
what the results are going to be. I don’t go out too much
at night. I don’t visit too many clubs. I like to go out
sometimes and just observe how people behave. When I was 15 years
old I preferred dancing to watching. Now I’m on the other
VH1: So where
do you get inspiration for your songs? By watching people?
always been curious about the way humans react and live and behave.
That’s why I like to observe others. It inspires me and
[fuels] my songs. Imagination also plays an important role. All
writers have a little bit of a liar or exaggerator in them. All
women exaggerate, and I’m no exception. So when I write,
I exaggerate a bit.
is it that drives you to be a songwriter?
always felt a calling. Like there was some invisible hand behind
me pushing me to write, dance, do things. When I was a child,
I had the illusion of becoming a scientist, a writer, and a dancer.
All three things combined! I remember doing my first poems at
the age of four on everything that would surround me. I wrote
one to my mom. It was called “The Rose of Crystal.”
It was full of fantasy and daydreams. But I didn’t feel
clearly that I wanted to be a musician. I started writing my first
songs when I was 8 years old. I think my career as a songwriter
started my career as a singer.
VH1: How would
you describe your music?
me it’s pretty difficult to categorize. It’s just
a reflection of what I am - and I am a cocktail! I’m an
infusion of different cultures. I was born in Barranquilla, Columbia,
and grew up listening to all kinds of typical music from my country.
But I also had a great passion for Arabic music, because of my
Lebanese background. During puberty I discovered the world of
rock ‘n’ roll, and just gave myself up to it. I became
a big fan of bands like the Beatles, the Police, the Cure. I guess
my music is a reflection of all that.
VH1: What is it like for you to be a rock star?
I feel like I am a rock artist trapped in the body of a pop artist!
I still need the approval of others. I still need to look pretty
in my videos. That’s not exactly what represents a rock
artist. But I feel rock ‘n’ roll in my veins. I breathe
it and I listen to that music the whole time.
VH1: Was there
a moment when you first realized, ‘Oh my God, I’m
encounter with fame has been very gradual, so it hasn’t
been traumatic for me to become a popular artist. But I still
get surprised when I see myself on something like Saturday Night
Live. I’m like, “Is that me there? On American TV?”
Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. It’s like a dream
VH1: How is
becoming a star in the United States different from the acceptance
you received in Latin America?
not that much of a difference between Americans or Latinos now.
I know that throughout history we’ve been trying to find
differences. Like Latinos can move their hips and Americans eat
Honey Mustard sauce. But in the end we all go through the same
pains. Same suffering or same joys. We’re just flesh and
VH1: Is there
a difference between being an artist on your own terms and being
a crossover success?
ask me every time, “Shakira, how does it feel to be doing
a crossover to America?” It’s a big thing. But I think
it’s very natural. I hope at some point I am just considered
an artist and not an alien. At the end of the day that is the
purpose of art or music, to make us forget about differences in
race and culture, and build new bridges.
VH1: Why was
it so important for you to learn English?
me it was very important to understand the nature of the language
and how it works in literature. I wanted to know how the English
grammar works. Not only the conversational English that we use
every day to order a pizza or call room service, but the English
that’s related to what is actually on the paper. I had to
read Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in English just to understand
the language a little more. It was too important to me to write
my own material like I always did. I didn’t want to sacrifice
anything that was part of my life before as an artist in order
to do the crossover thing.
the meaning of your songs be lost if you wrote them and then had
them translated into English?
first time we spoke about doing an album in English Gloria Estefan
helped me with some translations of songs that already existed.
She rescued the spirit of the songs in Spanish and translated
them into English. But when I decided I wanted to do a record
from zero, it was because I had the need and the urgency to express
ideas, feelings, thoughts. I had to express all those experiences
that I was going through in another language. It was quite a challenge
and a little scary, but then it became an adventure, an interesting
expedition to the unknown. At the end of the day I found a good
record that I felt proud of.
it like when you walk on stage?
stage never felt strange to me. It always seemed like my territory.
Like the lion in the jungle. I’m the little lion of that
wooden stage. I feel that I am the owner of that little stage
for the minutes that I’m allowed to be on it. It always
feels like it’s the first time, at least to me it does.
about the audience?
audience that is in front of you is looking for something from
you, so I wonder, “What do they need from me?” I try
to give the best that is inside me, to share it with them. Just
imagining all of those kids going home with smiles on their faces
makes me happy. But there is a big responsibility with it.
the best part of the job and what’s the worst part?
something really beautiful about entertaining. Somebody who works
in an office from eight in the morning till nine o’clock
every day can turn on the TV and find somebody singing a nice
song that can touch his heart and bring some warmth to it. There’s
something nice about it. The worst thing is that you fall in love
too much with this. And it’s dangerous because it’s
temporary. There’s a sunset and we all have to be prepared
for it. Someday I’ll be wrinkled, full of cellulite and
probably not that creative. I don’t know when is gonna be
the last day I write a good song. But that day is gonna come.
I’ve known many artists that I’ve admired for a long
time who suddenly come up with something that is just like “What
is this? This is not the genius he used to be.” That’s
pretty scary, huh?
VH1: How do
you keep yourself in check?
try to build my own boundaries. My boundaries are my family. They
contain me. They are my ground. That’s why it’s so
important for me to take them on the road and travel with them.
They always remind me how vulnerable and clumsy I am, and how
many mistakes I can make, because that’s what they love
to do. Parents always like to remind you about the important things
in life. They’re always trying too hard to make a good person
out of you.