For the October 2022 digital cover of ELLE, Shakira sat down with ELLE to talk publicly for the first time about her long-awaited new music, the dissolution of her relationship, and why she’s determined to have her say about her finances.
Shakira participated in ELLE’s Know Yourself video series where she answers questions about herself and recalls when she first started dancing, her first Grammy win, her biggest hit to date, what she wore for her first ELLE cover, and more.
On her eagerly awaited album, her first since 2017, which she calls ‘therapeutic’: “Yeah, I have a full album’s worth of music that I’m so excited about. And some songs you’ll hear imminently, some are collaborations. Some are in English and some in Spanish, different genres. But I’m really, really thrilled about not only the body of work that I have right now to share with the people who are waiting for it, but also how gratifying the whole process has been for me. How therapeutic as well. I thought I was done with my album. But every time I get in the studio to do, like, one line or something, or to mix a song that’s almost ready to come out, then I end up with new music because I feel creative right now, and I feel that is an incredible outlet for me to make sense of things.”
On how writing music helps her heal and is ‘the best medicine’ when she is going through a hard time: “I think everyone has their own processes or their own mechanisms to process grief or stress or anxiety. We all go through stuff in life. But in my case, I think that writing music is like going to the shrink, only cheaper [Laughs]. It just helps me process my emotions and make sense of them. And it helps me to heal. I think it’s the best medicine, and along with the love of my family and my kids that sustains me, music and writing music is definitely one of those tools—one of the few tools I have for survival in extreme conditions…There have been days when I had to pick up the pieces of me from the floor. And the only way to do that, to actually do that, has been through music. You know, to really, like, put myself back together and to see myself in the mirror and know that I am a mom and my kids depend on me. But also that I have so many things to say. And on those days when I felt that my strength was escaping me, like I didn’t have legs, those days I wrote songs, and I felt like I was revitalized and invigorated after a writing session.”
On speaking about the dissolution of her relationship publicly for the first time: “Oh, this is really hard to talk about personally, especially as this is the first time I’ve ever addressed this situation in an interview. I’ve remained quiet and just tried to process it all. Um, and yeah, it’s hard to talk about it, especially because I’m still going through it, and because I’m in the public eye and because our separation is not like a regular separation. And so it’s been tough not only for me, but also for my kids. Incredibly difficult. I have paparazzi camping outside, in front of my house, 24/7. And there’s not a place where I can hide from them with my kids, except for my own house. You know, we can’t take a walk in the park like a regular family or go have an ice cream or do any activity without paparazzi following us. So it’s hard. And I’ve tried to conceal the situation in front of my kids. I try to do it and to protect them, because that’s my number one mission in life. But then they hear things in school from their friends or they come across some disagreeable, unpleasant news online, and it just affects them, you know?”
On how the Spanish government has accused her of tax fraud as they said she was a resident of Spain for tax purposes from 2011 to 2014, and why she is fighting these accusations: “[Sighs] Because I have to fight for what I believe; because these are false accusations. First of all, I didn’t spend 183 days per year at that time at all. I was busy fulfilling my professional commitments around the world. Second, I’ve paid everything they claimed I owed, even before they filed a lawsuit. So as of today, I owe zero to them. And finally, I was advised by one of the four biggest tax specialist firms in the world, PricewaterhouseCoopers, so I was confident that I was doing things correctly and transparently from day one. However, even without evidence to support these fictional claims, as they usually do, they’ve resorted to a salacious press campaign to try to sway people, and apply pressure in the media along with the threat of reputational damage in order to coerce settlement agreements. It is well known that the Spanish tax authorities do this often not only with celebrities like me (or [Cristiano] Ronaldo, Neymar, [Xabi] Alonso, and many more), it also happens unjustly to the regular taxpayer. It’s just their style. But I’m confident that I have enough proof to support my case and that justice will prevail in my favor.”
On her support systems: “I’ve been pleasantly encountering an amazing, humane side to people, you know, people that I considered were in my life maybe because of the work that we do together. But no, these people really have an empathy and a heart that explains why they’ve been so loved by so many. For example, will.i.am. He regularly checks in with me, and one day he even sent me a beautiful prayer, praying for my kids and for me to find peace. Chris Martin is always checking in and telling me that he’s there for me, anything I need. Juan Luis Guerra. Alejandro Sanz. [Switches to Spanish] Dear friends who have become people who I believe don’t just care about me as an artist but as a person, as a human. [Back to English] Their support has made me feel that I might be alone, but I am not lonely. Sometimes a woman can be enough. I can be enough at this point for myself and for my family, for my kids.”
[Photo Credit: Jaume de Laiguana for ELLE Magazine]
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