By Allison Kugel
Julio Iglesias Jr. first entered the music business as a small child, touring the world with his famous father while being introduced on stage to tens of millions of fans across continents. The eldest son of Julio Iglesias, the biggest selling Spanish music artist of all time with one hundred million albums sold, and television host Isabel Preysler, Iglesias Jr. shares his father’s love for timeless love ballads that continue to inspire generations. His passion lies in the classic soul-quenching romance of his father’s era, which included Latin pop and adult contemporary music that has helped to set the Iglesias music legacy in stone.
Born in Madrid, Spain, Iglesias Jr., along with his older sister Chabeli and younger brother Enrique, emigrated to Miami, Florida as children to live with their father, allowing the siblings a front row seat to their father’s career and lifestyle. The family continues to call Miami home. The city’s balmy air, Latin influence and musicality keeps Iglesias Jr. tied to his roots and allows for regular family reunions.
In his latest English-language album, Under the Covers, Julio Iglesias Jr. offers fans an updated rendition of the classic love ballad Into the Night. The song was originally recorded in 1980 by the late Benny Mardones. Iglesias Jr.’s voice seamlessly blends with that of Mardones in the updated duet, adding new texture to the song. Other tracks on the album include a sparkling Stevie Wonder medley in duet with Brian McKnight, a big band version of the Right Said Fred camp hit I’m Too Sexy, a jazz-inspired cover of Billy Joel’s Just the Way You Are, a silky interpretation of the George Michael hit Careless Whisper in duet with Jewel, and more.
Allison Kugel: What is your earliest memory of falling in love with music?
Julio Iglesias Jr: I remember going on tour with my dad when I was seven, eight, nine years old; traveling all over Europe with my dad, watching him on stage and just falling in love with the idea of one day being there doing the same thing. It was incredible to watch him performing at all of these huge stadiums with 20,000 or 30,000 people watching him, adoring him, and loving the music. It was really amazing for me to be able to experience that.
Allison Kugel: Was it the energy of the crowd and the applause, was it the music, or a combination?
Julio Iglesias Jr: It was a little bit of everything. Just watching people’s faces and listening to the music. It’s funny, because now when I’m doing all of these shows around the world, performing all of these songs that my dad used to sing, for me to be able to sing those songs now on stage that I grew up listening to him sing is just an unbelievable experience for me.
Allison Kugel: Yes, I watched a video of you and your father, Julio Iglesias, performing hi classic song, To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before, on stage together.
Julio Iglesias Jr: That was a while ago, but people always talk to me about that video.
Allison Kugel: Your father, Julio Iglesias, is the biggest selling Spanish music artist of all time. Do you get nervous when you are performing with him on stage?
Julio Iglesias Jr: How can I explain this? Yes. The first time I actually had the chance to go on tour with my dad in 2015 and we did eight or nine shows together, I opened up the shows for my dad which is really an incredible experience. The first time I went on stage with him was that video that you saw and it was pretty intimidating, I have to admit. It is also intimidating to sing a lot of my dad’s songs now at my age because I feel they are always going to compare [us], but I just love singing those songs and my dad has told me, “[There is] no better person than you to sing those songs around the world. They’re songs that you grew up listening to, and I love the way you sing them.”
Allison Kugel: What experiences have shaped the human being you are today?
Julio Iglesias Jr: There are so many, but the major one is growing up in this musical family. My dad being one of the most well-known entertainers in the world. I’ll never forget when we were very young, my dad used to bring us up on stage. After a certain song he would just bring the kids up on stage and we used to get really embarrassed. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of our lives. I’ll never forget talking to my brother Enrique or my older sister Chabeli about those moments when dad used to bring us up on stage and present us to the world. It was pretty nerve wracking with all those people looking at you and being the son of such a huge star. It really shaped my life in the way that I am now and what I grew up into. I also got to learn and I got to meet so many people. That is why I speak 3 or 4 languages. I got to travel. I got to do so many things that I was blessed to do.
Allison Kugel: When you and your brother Enrique were kids, would you say, “Hey, when we grow up, we are going to be famous singers like dad.”? What was the conversation?
Julio Iglesias Jr: Actually, my dad wanted us to be lawyers or doctors. He was always trying to push us away from being entertainers, because he knows how tough it is. He knows how weird it can be sometimes. I know now how difficult it is to be successful and to really make it in the music industry as an entertainer. It is very difficult and challenging, and you have to be very serious and very smart.
Allison Kugel: Let’s talk about your new single, a remake of the classic song, Into the Night. You re-made it as a duet with the late Benny Mardones (Mardones passed away in 2020), the original artist who recorded the song. How did that collaboration come about?
Julio Iglesias Jr: When my manager Mark Oswald and my producer Rudy Perez get together with me and we started talking about what kind of record we wanted to do, what kinds of songs we wanted to do, and we finally decided we wanted to do a big band record with all of these great oldies but goodies. It’s all of these great songs that everybody knows, and that my generation grew up listening to. We came across Into the Night and I was actually telling Rudy that when I first came to the U.S. (Iglesias Jr. emigrated from Madrid, Spain) in 1986, I used to always listen to that song on the radio and think, “Oh my God, I love this song!” even though I didn’t understand it. I loved the music and I loved the beat. I never thought when I first listened to this song in 1986 that I would one day do the duet with Benny, and that it would be my first single on my new record.
Allison Kugel: Some the elements of the original song would be politically incorrect today in today’s culture.
Julio Iglesias Jr: We actually changed the lyrics. You’re totally right. We were recording the song and Rudy comes up to me and says, “Dude, I think we have to change the lyrics, and Benny loved the idea at the time. He loved the idea of doing the duet with me and he was okay with actually changing the lyrics, which was incredible. [We just changed the first line of the song].
Allison Kugel: One of the things that makes the song so powerful is its passion. Would you say that you have a romantic soul?
Julio Iglesias Jr: Big time, and this is the type of music that I love. I’ve listened to all types of music in my life, but for the last 10-15 years I have felt that this is the path I want. These are the songs that I want to sing. I feel very comfortable and very happy singing great ballads, love songs and songs that touch your heart. I really feel that is my thing.
Allison Kugel: What’s your relationship situation?
Julio Iglesias Jr: I actually got divorced two years ago, and now I’m dating and I’m super happy.
I have a girlfriend now. We get a long really well, and she’s good.
Allison Kugel: You cover a lot of artists’ classic songs. Do you write original material as well?
Julio Iglesias Jr: I wrote my whole 2003 Spanish record in 2003, called Tercera Dimension. I was really inspired in the early 2000s to write these songs in Spanish. It just came to me and I started writing like crazy. It’s been a while since I’ve really written a song. I definitely know what I like, and I know a great song. I would love to get back to writing and really focus again like I did in 2003.
Allison Kugel: The album that is coming out this winter is called Under the Covers. Is this your first all English-language album?
Julio Iglesias Jr: This is actually my second English album. I’ve done a couple of bilingual Spanish and English records. This is my full all-English record…
Allison Kugel: … With a really eclectic group of songs. How did you choose some of these songs and artists to cover?
Julio Iglesias Jr: With Into the Night, the hardest part of the record was choosing ten songs out of 150 that I had in mind. Rudy and I would sit for hours trying to figure out which songs we are going to do, and which songs could we make into a big band production that would sound amazing. Another song on the album is Just the Way You Are,” which is one of my favorite songs of all time.
Allison Kugel: I love Billy Joel!
Julio Iglesias Jr: He is one of my favorite artists of all time.
Allison Kugel: Me too. Did anyone ever ask you, “If you were stuck on a desert island, and you could only play one album…?” Mine would be Billy Joel Greatest Hits Volume I and II.
Julio Iglesias Jr: Anybody that tells me they don’t like Billy Joel, I just cannot believe it. For me, Billy Joel rocks the earth. Just the Way You Are is another one of those songs I grew up listening to and when I told Rudy I would like to do a Billy Joel song, that was the song. The way we did it with the horns and the production, I love the way it came out and I’m super happy the song made it onto the record.
Allison Kugel: And you have a duet with Jewel, a cover of George Michael’s Careless Whisper.
Julio Iglesias Jr: That was a song that my dad also sang. It is one of the best George Michaels songs. Then we have a beautiful Stevie Wonder medley with Over Joy and I Just Called to Say I Love You.
Allison Kugel: One of my favorites!
Julio Iglesias Jr: Yes, and Isn’t She Lovely.
Allison Kugel: And that is a duet with Brian McKnight?
Julio Iglesias Jr: Yes, and we were very happy that Brian wanted to work on the record with us.
Allison Kugel: Okay, this one shocked me. You do a big band-esque cover of Right Said Fred, I’m Too Sexy.
Julio Iglesias Jr: It was also one of those songs that, of course, I’ve heard a million times. I grew up with that song in the 90s. [We] actually spoke to the guys from Right Said Fred and they agreed to do it as a duet. The way we did it is, we kept the beat of that song, because that is what makes the song it’s a similar version, but big band with a lot of instruments in the right places. It sounds like a band is playing it, instead of a computerized [sound].
Allison Kugel: I find that songs from decades past really told stories. You would listen to a song from decades past and the artist told a story, with both lyrics and emotion. I find that’s been lost a little bit in today’s music.
Julio Iglesias Jr: I don’t doubt it. I definitely think in old songs, they capture your heart. It is completely different from nowadays in the Latin and Spanish market, which is even worse. In the Latin market it has become very Urban, Reggaeton. You don’t have those songs that really capture your heart. It’s not timeless music. People listen to it today, but tomorrow people will not remember those songs like we did with the old songs.
Allison Kugel: You will be performing live at the Latin Song Writers Hall of Fame La Musa Awards on October 13th.
Julio Iglesias Jr: Yes, it will either be October 13th or 14th, and we have not done it in two years because of Covid. Covid ruined a lot of the awards and a lot of music’s important stuff that we have all been wanting to do for the last two years. This year it is happening again, finally, and everybody is super excited. It will be televised. I’m supposed to do a performance in that show, but we don’t know yet. We are working on it.
Allison Kugel: You grew up in Spain with your mother until the age of nine, and then you moved to Miami to live with your father. What prompted that move from Spain to Miami?
Julio Iglesias Jr: My dad was working in the U.S. in the early 80s and throughout the 90s. He moved to Miami, I think, in ‘78 and ‘79. It was just easier for him to work in the U.S. and in South America. In ’82 and ‘83 my grandfather got kidnapped. My father and mother were divorced at the time and they decided to bring the kids (Iglesias Jr., brother Enrique Iglesias and their sister, Chabeli) to the U.S., just for safety reasons. So, we moved to the U.S. in 1985, and I think it was after my grandfather was kidnapped in Madrid, Spain. He was kidnapped for about three months.
Allison Kugel: Was your grandfather held for a ransom payment from your father?
Julio Iglesias Jr: Yes, he was held for ransom and so my mother and father decided to bring the kids to the U.S. because they were scared for the kids.
Allison Kugel: I’ve heard of that happening in Central and South America. I’ve never heard of it happening in Europe.
Julio Iglesias Jr: In Europe, Yes. In the ‘80s we had ETA in Spain, which was a terrorist group from Northern Spain, and they used to do these kinds of things.
Allison Kugel: Was he returned safely?
Julio Iglesias Jr: Actually, the Spanish police found him and saved his life.
Allison Kugel: What is your parent’s relationship like today? Do they maintain a friendship?
Julio Iglesias Jr: Oh yes, they have a great relationship. They love each other very much and they talk all the time.
Allison Kugel: That is awesome. What is a big Iglesias family gathering like?
Julio Iglesias Jr: I’m lucky in the sense that I get to spend two Christmas’ in the sense that we spend some part of Christmas in Europe and some part of Christmas in the U.S., because we have my father’s side, my mother’s side, and then I have my sister who has two kids, my brother who has three kids. So when we all gather together, we need a ballroom. It’s crazy.
Allison Kugel: Do you think you will ever have kids?
Julio Iglesias Jr: Yes, of course. I would love to. I still feel young and strong.
Allison Kugel: You are crazy fit. What is your fitness routine?
Julio Iglesias Jr: I’m just always doing something, and I love sports. I don’t eat meat. I do a lot of sports. I’m always doing something. I’m always moving. I’m not a couch potato. I don’t sit on the couch and do nothing. I sleep well and I’m always very active in anything that I do. That is the only thing, and my genes, because my mother is very thin. My father is pretty thin too, so genes are also part of it.
Allison Kugel: Do you think you, your father, and your brother, Enrique, would ever tour together at some point?
Julio Iglesias Jr: I think so. We’ve spoken about it at family reunions and it would be something amazing. [We would] maybe even record a song together and then tour.
Allison Kugel: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Julio Iglesias Jr: My father told me to be true to yourself and be a good person. Surround yourself with good people that are trustworthy, and that you can learn from.
Allison Kugel: Do you pray? And, if so, who or what do you pray to?
Julio Iglesias Jr: I definitely believe in God, and I pray. When I pray, and I know this sounds corny, but I pray when I go on an airplane every time (laugh). I’ve always done that, my whole life. I’m so used to it. I get on an airplane and I start praying. I pray to God that everything is safe, and we are going to get to our destination in a safe way.
Allison Kugel: If you could travel back in time and change any famous historical event, where would you go and what would attempt to change?
Julio Iglesias Jr: I’m really into nature and I’m a big animal person. I love dogs, cats, and any animal. I would have a zoo in my house if I could. I would change the way animals are treated. I would change global warming. I would have started many, many years ago what we are trying to do now. The world would be a much better place for us to all live in.
Allison Kugel: What do you think you came into this life as Julio Iglesias Jr. to learn, and what do you think you came here to teach?
Julio Iglesias Jr: To teach, I would say to be a good person and to be respectful to others. Treat people the way you want to be treated, yourself. And I am here to learn about everything. I’m the type of person that wants to know about absolutely everything. Even if it is the dumbest thing, or something I will never use, it is just very interesting for me to know about everything. I love to learn.
Allison Kugel: Do you have any outside-the-box interests or hobbies that would surprise people?
Julio Iglesias Jr: I’m a big water sports fan. I do windsurfing, kiteboarding, wake surfing and wake boarding. I love sports. At the same time, I’m a really good tennis player. I’m also a mechanic. I love cars. I love taking a motor out of a car and rebuilding the engine. I’m an electrician. I’m a gardener. I’m a plumber. I’m a handyman. I do everything myself. If something needs to be fixed in the house, I do it myself. People would never believe how much stuff I really do. Barely anybody walks into my house to do stuff, because I do it myself.
Allison Kugel: That is beyond awesome! The new album Under the Covers is out February 7th. Correct?
Julio Iglesias Jr: Yes, the week of February 7th leading up to Valentine’s Day.
Allison Kugel is a veteran entertainment journalist and host of the Allison Interviews podcast. Watch her extended interview with Julio Iglesias Jr. on YouTube or listen to the extended interview on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Follow Allison Kugel on Instagram @theallisonkugel and at AllisonInterviews.com.
Listen to Julio Iglesias Jr.’s Into the Night Duet with Benny Mardones. Follow Julio Iglesias Jr on Instagram @juliojrofficial and visit julioiglesiasjronline.com.
Photos courtesy of Jesus Cordero
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