Q&A: Lorenzo "Jovanotti" Cherubini, "I’m Everywhere, Like Everybody Today"

Lead Photo: Lorenzo Jovanotti walks a red carpet during the 11th Rome Film Festival at Auditorium Parco Della Musica on October 16, 2016 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
Lorenzo Jovanotti walks a red carpet during the 11th Rome Film Festival at Auditorium Parco Della Musica on October 16, 2016 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
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Lorenzo “Jovanotti” Cherubini is no stranger to Latin audiences. Italia: 1988 – 2012, his latest album, is a retrospective of his long music career, and it is also his way of introducing himself to the U.S. He recently moved to Brooklyn with his wife and daughter, and is eager to collaborate with local artists. In between the release of his album and the start of his first U.S. tour, he took the time to talk exclusively to Remezcla about Latin music, his love for Latin American literature, and an upcoming collaboration with Bomba Estéreo. He is quite knowledgeable, but also very grounded. Read on to find out about his plans for the future, and for tour dates.

Who is in your iPod right now? What Latin artists do you like?

I am a big fan of the Latin scene–a really big, big fan. Calle 13 is really something that inspired me when I was doing my music in the last four or five years. There’s a song called “Latinoamérica.” If I look in my iPod, it’s one of the songs that I have been listening to more. There is also Rubén Blades, who for me is a hero. Violeta Parra or Chavela Vargas–the old ladies, I really love them. I like cumbia. I like all this new wave of electro-cumbia and I like Mexican Institute of Sound. This wave [of music] is really something I listen to, because I am Italian, and so the Latin touch is something I feel is very close to my musical spirit, to my soul.

So you like those DJs mixing cumbia with electronic music?

I like that scene, the mixing of cumbia with electronic music. Like Bomba Estéreo. And now I’m doing something with them.

You are?

Yeah, we are working on the idea of doing something together in the future. I met them at a couple of festivals around the United States, and we discovered that they were fans of my music, and that I was a fan of their music, so we said, “let’s do something together.” It’s going to happen next year.

That sounds amazing. Now that you have come to the States, I am sure you have bumped into a lot of Latin audiences. “Serenata Rap” was very famous in Latin America back in the nineties.

Yeah, the first time I came to Latin America it was actually to promote “Serenata Rap.” In the nineties, “Serenata Rap” and “L’Ombelico Del Mondo” were huge in South America. These are places that I really like, that I really love. Also, South-American literature for me is maybe the most influential literature that I have read in my life. García Márquez and Julio Cortázar from Argentina, you know? These are real giants. I am a real fan of Latin American literature.


They are all giants, that whole generation of novelists. That’s amazing. I didn’t know you liked Latin American literature.

I am a real fan of Latin American literature. I love it even more than North American literature because there is an element of fantasy, I would say, of magic. That is something that I feel is close to my way of looking at life. So people like García Márquez, or even younger ones, like Roberto Bolaño. I consider him some sort of genius. He is one of the greatest.

Some of them were not only great writers, but also activists. There was political content in their work.

Yeah, but in South America that is something that has always been connected, not only to literature. Sometimes artists are more credible than politicians. You can trust a writer more than a politician. Looking at South America now, when I am traveling there, or reading things, [I sense] something is changing in South America in the last decade. That part of the world is a big promise for the world.

You recently moved to New York. You live in Brooklyn now. Do you see this as a new beginning in your career?

I don’t think it’s going to be a change, because today the world is so connected. It’s not like in the past. Today I’m talking to you, and in one hour I’ll be doing a Skype meeting with my office in Milan. I’m in New York, but at the same time I’m everywhere, like everybody today.

What inspires you about New York City in particular?

My idea of the world has always been of a melting pot. There’s so much treasure in this town, and energy, that for me–because I’m doing music– I really felt attracted by the idea of living here for a while in this moment of my life. This town is unique in the world.

As a way of ending this great conversation, are you writing music right now? Are you thinking about writing more music in English? Or perhaps in Spanish?

I’m here also for this reason. What I would really like is to work in this direction: to write in English and in Spanish, too, and also trying to mix these languages with Italian as well, why not? And creating something that can be good for me. One of the albums that I consider incredible is Clandestino by Manu Chao. This album is sung in maybe 5 or 6 languages. I’m looking for my way to have a similar approach. I really would like to work in Spanish and in English, maybe collaborating with local artists, people who can help me develop this part.

Be sure to catch Jovanotti on tour. U.S. tour dates below:

10/1 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
10/2 – Philadelphia, PA -Trocadero
10/5 – Boston, MA- Royale
10/6 – New York, NY – Terminal 5
10/8 – Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
10/9 – Orlando, FL – House of Blues
10/10 – Miami, FL – The Fillmore Miami Beach
10/12 – Austin, TX – ACL Music Festival
10/14 – Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater
10/15 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
10/17 – Chicago, IL – The Vic Theatre
10/18 – Detroit, MI – Saint Andrew’s Hall