Pop sensation JLO talks about her new album A.K.A., her divorce being a big turning point in her life, how she found strength and self-confidence and her beauty secrets



“You’ve got to move on and you’ve got to do things that are going to please you and make you happy.”

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez has gone through hell and back over the past few years. Her divorce from Marc Anthony was a gut-wrenching experience that left her shaken and shattered her “faith in love.” But she gritted out her six-month Dance Again tour last year and that experience taught her that she is a lot tougher than she thinks.

“When you go through tough times, it can open your eyes to a lot of things,” Lopez says. “I’ve grown from this experience and found a new inner strength that I never knew I had. Now I know that I can handle things on my own and that’s given me a greater sense of independence and knowing that you can deal with tough times and bounce back. Going on tour last year was inspiring, and that’s why I was so anxious to get back into the studio, throw myself into the new album and see how all those feelings would find their way into my music.”


The result of that is A.K.A., the tenth album in the career of the 44-year-old pop sensation who has sold over 75 million CDs and is a highly popular judge on American Idol. Last month, Lopez also received an Icon Award at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards – she is the first female artist Billboard has honoured with the award.

A.K.A. will be released by Capitol Records this June, and First Love is one of many songs on the CD that are geared to the theme of love and makes veiled references to her previous romances with Ben Affleck and Puff Daddy (Sean Combs). Lopez claims to have arrived at a more profound “understanding” about true love in the aftermath of her divorce, and her new album is an attempt to capture those feelings.

In the meantime, 44-year-old Lopez remains in a relationship with dancer Casper Smart, 26, the man she credited with having “helped me heal” after her seven-year marriage to Anthony ended in July 2011. JLo, as she is more commonly known, lives in Los Angeles with her 6-year-old twins, Max and Emme.


Jennifer, how do you feel about your new album, A.K.A.?Jennifer Lopez: I’m very excited about the album. This one feels a little more special to me. I’ve been working on it for a year and I think people are going to be surprised by some of the things in it. This is a really good time for me, I’m proud of the work that Max Martin (one of the producers) and Savan (the principal writer on the album ED) did on the song First Love. It’s exciting to perform with Pit (Pitbull) at the opening of the World Cup (in Brazil). There’s a lot happening. (Laughs)

How do you think the message of this album compares to your previous work?
JLO: I approach my music in a very visceral way. My message has always been about love. I’m always talking about it in one way or another. In my first few albums, it was talking about love in a more fairy tale way, wishing and hoping for love, talking about when it went wrong and when it went right. This album is still about love and exploring its complexities. My message is still that. But I’ve been through so much that I think of love in a different way now. This is the first time it’s been reflected in an album. I have a different kind of strength now. I’ve learned more about love and I like to think that I’ve gotten a little bit better at it! (Laughs)

There are many different tracks in A.K.A. that are the product of your work with different producers like Diplo, Detail, DJ Mustard, Max Martin and Harmony. What attracted you to these people?
JLO: When you’re working on an album, you take a journey where all these things happen. We had our Mustard moment, then we had our Diplo moment, then we had our Max Martin moment. (Laughs). There was our Harmony moment but that was different. You get in there and you explore with them and see what comes out of it. I was lucky enough to work with pretty much everybody that I wanted to work with on this album. I was really spoiled that way this time. Maybe because it’s my tenth album, I was like (speaks excitedly): “It’s my tenth album, I want to work with you!”


There has been some controversy about your album’s big song, First Love, because of the references to past loves of yours?
JLO: (Laughs) The song evolved from a series of conversations I was having with some of the people working on the album and a few friends and we were all talking about love and relationships. It was a general kind of conversation and someone said love is something you need to work at, and another person was saying how hard it is to find the right person and the right kind of love. Then we talked about how you suddenly meet someone, someone you really love and are really into, and you wish you had met them years ago and it would have made life so much easier. It’s that moment where you think to yourself and want to tell the person, “Why the hell did it take so long to meet you? I wouldn’t have had to go through all this crap!” (Laughs) Then Savan, who works with Max Martin and had been there for that conversation, well, he called me and said: “Hey, I got something out of that talk about love we had the other night. We’re so excited about it and we’re going to come by your set and play it for you.”


So what was your reaction on first hearing the melody?JLO: I was over at American Idol working on the set and around lunchtime Max and Savan dropped by and came to my tiny little dressing room and played me the demo from First Love. I was immediately blown away by it. I said “Oh, my God,” it was one of those songs that capture love and big emotion in a very simple way.

Do you think you needed to go through a divorce and the kind of emotional stress that a breakup like that causes in order to understand yourself and understand love better?JLO: It’s not something you would want to do deliberately of course but you need to be able to learn and grow from the tough times. My divorce was a turning point in my life and it was the hardest thing I’ve probably ever had to deal with. But you come out of it a lot stronger I think because you’re more aware and I think I do have a better understanding of what love is really about. I have a different way of thinking about love than I did before. I know that there’s a “right” kind of love for you and you have to be able to see that and recognise it otherwise you’re not going to be happy in the end. I still believe in love as deeply as I ever have, maybe even more, but now I have a better idea of the way love should be.

When you’ve said that you feel more independent, what do you mean by that?
JLO: I think when you have a greater sense of self-awareness and self-confidence, you’re much more able to stand on your own and it makes you a better person overall.

How would you advise other women who have experienced difficult breakups and how they should deal with them?JLO: You’ve got to move on and you’ve got to do things that are going to please you and make you happy. Women tend to be nurturers. We’re always taking care of children, we’re looking after our parents and grandparents, we’re trying to make sure everything is good with our families. Women give a lot of themselves in that way. But we have to make sure that we also devote some time to our own well-being. So do things that make you happy. So get someone to look after the kids one day and go for a spa treatment, or take an art class, or spend an afternoon with your girl friends. Whatever is going to brighten your day and give you a break from all the responsibilities you have. That kind of time for yourself is important.


Do you have any regrets?
JLO: I try not to think like that. I believe you need to learn from your past and use your experiences to make you become a better person. If you just complain or try to hide from things that have happened to you, that stuff will just follow you around. You want to be able to move forward and grow as an individual.

Your recent video I Luh Ya Papi has attracted a lot of attention. Please comment.
JLO: We’re doing it in a fun way, but (it’s also) a commentary on things. We have been watching women being objectified for years in not just rap videos but in rock ‘n roll videos too – all kinds of videos. It was a lot of fun to turn the tables and think about what the shots are that directors do every single time when there’s a girl in a video in a bathing suit. (Laughs) It was meant to be a funny, tongue-in-cheek version of those kind of videos, but still beautiful. Since the song is called I Luh Ya Papi, it only made sense to have a bunch of good-looking papis in the video.

How did the models taking part in the video feel about that?
JLO: (Laughs) You should have seen how uncomfortable it made the models. The scene with the car – when we did that with the guys, the director wanted to stop after one take and I told him, “Hey, if these were women, you’d be doing ten takes minimum.” So I liked the idea of reversing those stereotypes and you know what, the guys don’t like it that much! What a surprise!? (Laughs)

Apparently you weren’t crazy about the idea of recording the single Big Booty which also appears in A.K.A.?
JLO: It seemed so dumb to me at first. I was like, “There’s no way I will ever do a song called Big Booty,” especially after all the talk over the years about my butt. But I put it on in the car one day when I had Max and Emme in there with me, and they just went crazy for it. The minute it was on, it was like an instant-listen thing. For them, it’s just fun. It made me see that we over-think things sometimes, and I don’t want to over-think things.

“I just want to have fun, be happy and make music that makes people happy and feel something.”


It seems incredible to most people who see you on TV regularly that you’re really 44. Do you have any beauty or anti-aging secrets?
JLO: (Laughs) I don’t have any secret potion or anything… I live a pretty clean life. I try to get my rest. I try to eat good. I work out. I do a lot of dancing and singing when it comes to preparing for shows or going out on tour. Whatever it is, I’m going to stick with what I’m doing. (Laughs)

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