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Maluma is ready to try it all. Whether that be making his on-screen acting, starting a non-profit in his home country of Colombia, or even, yes, becoming the new face of mezcal, he’s not slowing down anytime soon.
Juan Luis Londoño Arias, known to his fans as “Maluma”, has found his own popularity go worldwide in the past few years, and his new collaboration with Contraluz Cristalino, Mexico’s first cristalino, is aiming to bring mezcal global, too. “In everything that I do, I want to share my discoveries with the world,” says Maluma, in a press release. Until last month, Contraluz was only available locally in Mexico, but besides feeling proud to rep it for the culture, Maluma knows the power of spirits to bring people together.
“I feel like this [mezcal] is very connected to music and culture, in that you can drink it any way in any space,” Maluma told Rolling Stone. “When I released my album, I just wanted a drink that I could have while listening to romantic music, reggaetón music, even mariachi music.” Aged for six months in charred American whiskey barrels, the unique filtration gives the cristalino a crowd-pleasing floral palette, smooth finish and a touch of light smoke.
The new Contraluz Cristalino collaboration comes on the heels of Maluma’s recent EP, The Love & Sex Tape, released earlier this year. It’s yet another accomplishment in a busy year for the 28-year-old, who has also landed as an A-list actor with starring roles in Marry Me alongside Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson, and Disney’s Encanto, which was nominated for an Oscar (find out how to stream Encanto here). While staying booked and busy, he even found time to launch a gender-neutral fragrance and clothing collection with Macy’s.
We got Maluma to sit down and take a sip with Rolling Stone to talk about the partnership, returning to his Medellín roots, and having stylish moms that show you up.
You’ve previously said you feel like you can grow Contraluz the same way your music is growing around the world. Mezcal does have a reputation for being a big party drink — so what do you think it is about both mezcal and music that brings people together?
I don’t want to say I drink a lot, but I know a lot about different kinds of beverages [laughs]. But this mezcal is different. And when I say that it’s because I really feel like you can have total control. You can have this shot on the rocks, you can sip it while having a conversation. If you want to go party with your friends, or even, I don’t know, camping. Every time it’s a different experience, and every time you try it you have a choice. It’s the same with music. You know, when I released my album, I just wanted a drink that I could have while listening to romantic music, reggaetón music, even mariachi music. I feel like this [mezcal] is very connected to music and culture, in that you can drink it any way in any space.
What’s your going-out cocktail and what is your night-at-home cocktail?
I really like having caballitos (tequila shots), like we say in Mexico, when I go out partying. Just ice, the mezcal, and shaken. For me, when I’m at home, I like it on the rocks with a little bit of lime. That’s the special cocktail, so it’d be like the dirty boy and the pretty boy. You’re also talking to the guy who went to a Chanel party with my own bottle of Contraluz. There were a couple of friends there who tried it out of my cup and were like, ‘oh, you got any more of this?’. And I was like, ‘shit they’re gonna finish my bottle’ [laughs].
Speaking of your album, you’ve talked about the collaborations you do being very energy-based. In the same way that when you’re sharing mezcal, it’s meant to be communal. How have your priorities in terms of collaborating changed over the years for you as an artist?
It’s weird, because sometimes I just wake up and I want to work with the new generation, with reggaetón artists. But then I feel kind of picky and I don’t want to do any features with anyone for a long time. It just depends in my mood. I don’t like to just close my mind off and do what everybody else is doing. I feel like this is my essence. I have to listen to my heart, my mind and every day is a different day — it’s the same as fashion. When I wake up one day I just want to be comfy and wear some sweatpants, but the next day I want to be flashy. My music and the way that I want to express myself are the same.
So then what is inspiring you lately?
My family, a lot. A lot, a lot. I feel like I’m coming back to my roots. When I went out from from Medellín with my music around the world, I felt like I was losing a little bit of myself. Then I was doing some songs that, okay, maybe they were hit, but I didn’t feel like that was my essence. Now I want to be successful, but in a more personal way. I want to go back to Medellín, I want to go back to my farm, be there with my family, with my friends, with my animals. That’s what inspires me right now. Just what I am. I don’t have to go and look for something that I already have inside.
And you just released a clothing collection with your mom!
Yeah! Well, also, my dad was there, too. You know, everybody was asking, “hey, can he be a part of the collection?” [laughs]. Everybody’s involved, my mom, my sister — my sister is the president of my foundation, too. So I feel like my social circle, my family circle, is closing more and more every day. And I’m working for them too, you know. They’re my family and I feel like I have to take care of them the same way they did when I was growing in my career.
How have your parents influenced your style?
They got swag. Since I was 8 years old or so, I remember my mom used to go out to the mall dressing up like a princess, smelling like roses. Even now, when she’s going to the supermarket, she’s still smelling like roses. I’m like ‘shit, what’s going on?’. I feel like I’m underdressed. I’m like, ‘come on ma, I have to go and change?’. And she just says ‘no, because you’re Maluma’. [laughs]
Then my dad with his shirts, and he loves jewelry and shit. Also my sister, though she’s more urban. So I really feel like when I am right now is the influence they gave me.
You’ve recently started your foray into acting with Marry Me and your voiceover work for Encanto. What do you enjoy about the silver screen that’s different from doing music?
Well, the learning process is very different. I loved being with Owen Wilson and Jennifer — they’re the masters. You know, since my first time on set to do the first scenes, I was very nervous. And for it to be my first movie, a Hollywood movie, and being there with Owen and Jennifer, it was a very special experience for me. I want to keep growing my acting career, and I feel like this next year, I’m going to have a couple of big opportunities to go back. But I’m just waiting for the next month. I don’t want to rush it.
I want it to be just the way Marry Me was, because I actually had a couple of opportunities to be a part of other movies at the beginning of my career. But I said no, because I was waiting for this kind of experience. And now that I’ve had it, I said, ‘okay, now what else are we going to do to keep growing?’. You have different projects, you know? Like, my acting career is my priority. Now, also, besides my music, mezcal is my priority. So I have to be very disciplined just to try to do to them all, and in a good way. I don’t want to waste my time and and do something that I don’t feel is gonna be successful.
It’s interesting because I know you’ve spoke about how starting this year, you want your fans to see you as an entrepreneur. Can you expand upon that a little?
I’m growing in every aspect. There are a lot of things that are about to happen that I can talk about. But I can say that I’m just helping new generations from my hometown, from Columbia, and well, even Latin America, to keep growing in the music industry. We have a bunch of investments, big investments in technology in the States. Also in Colombia, we have this beautiful paradise, Turks and Caicos, where we all started creating these ideas about how we’re going to create an empire there.
And building my team is not easy. But it’s very exciting too, because dreams are constantly changing through the years. When I was 16, 17 years old, I felt like everything was about music. I didn’t know anything. I was just going to the studio and performing, then going out and performing. But then I felt like I could make different things. Acting, developing this brand Contraluz. You know, I even have a horse breeder in Colombia. Creating a clothing line, a fragrance line, and we just created Royalty Films. The rhythm that I had since I started my career has been so tough that any guy where I was two years ago could’ve said, ‘shit, this is enough for me, I’m gonna stop, I just want to enjoy life with my family, and friends, and animals’. But no, I think, ‘I want to leave my legacy in this world’.