Interview: Jencarlos Canela Gives Latin Spin To HOP

JenCarlos in Miami for HOP Press Day

Recording artist and Spanish soap opera star Jencarlos Canela (Doña Barbara,  Pecados Ajenos, Mas Sabe El Diablo) brings some Latino flavor to the new live-animated film HOP starring James Marsden and featuring the voice of Russell Brand as the Easter Bunny.

The Cuban-American singer takes HOP’s title song ‘I Want Candy,” originally recorded by the Strangeloves in 1965 and popularized by Bow Wow Wow’s cover version in 1982, and put his own spin for the Spanish version of the film for the Caribbean.  

Jencarlos, one of People En Español’s 25 Most Handsome Men in 2009, spoke to CineMovie about his experience rendering his own take on the famous song for HOP.

CineMovie:  How did your involvement in HOP come about?

JenCarlos and EB of HOP in Miami Press DayJencarlos: I’ve been working with a tv station called Telemundo. They are part of Universal and now Comcast.  Through them they were talking to Universal Pictures.  I get a call from Margaret Rogers, a dear friend of ours, and she said to me, ‘there’s this project coming up with the movie HOP.  Tim Hill is the director and I think he’s got a great vision, great ideas.  He’s great at what he does.’  I’m a fan so I say, ‘that’s really awesome’.  It would be incredible to be part of that. I said yes right off the bat.  It was great.   It was awesome.  The song I enjoyed.  It was a very happy moment all around.

CineMovie:  Were you a fan of the original song “I Want Candy” or some of the various covers.

Jencarlos:  I knew of the song and I had heard it but to be honest with you, I don’t know which is which.  I don’t remember the difference or a version specifically.   That actually helped me when I went to interpret the song. I didn’t have any preconceived ideas of what I should sound like. I was able to focus on giving it my own touch and interpreting it to my liking. Together as a team, we were able to come out with something that we’re proud of.  The song is very upbeat.  It makes you want to smile.  It makes you want to laugh, to dance. It’s got a love in it as well.  We hope the people enjoy it.

CineMovie:  When you went in to record it, what was your process?

Jencarlos:  The song itself tells the story. You have to listen to every word you’re saying and be one with the song. I know it sounds very Karate Kid, but it’s true.  You have to tell the story.  You have to be into it.  I love to imagine myself in a world.  The world this song takes me to is a world where trees are like lollipops and candies -- everyone is running around having a good time.  It’s summer time.  You’re getting wet with a hose or in the pool.  Throwing the beach ball around. I just pictured myself in that ambience.  That helped me put on a smile on my face throughout the song and I sung with that energy.

CineMovie:  Since HOP is about the Easter Bunny, what is your favorite Easter memory?

Jencarlos:  There was one Easter where me and my younger brother were at a party.  They gave us two little bags and send us on our way to find some eggs.  We both had our bags full.  My little brother wanted to go to the bouncy house so I told him to go ahead, I would hold his bag.  I ate all my candies but I couldn’t stop and I ate all of his. I gave him his bag and it was half empty.  He cried very much. And I felt bad afterwards. Then I laughed about it.  But it was a dramatic thing for him.  He looked at me with this face like, ‘OMG you killed my mother.’  He was very affected by it so I just remember.

CineMovie:  Are you looking into doing more in Hollywood or breaking into the English-language market?

Jencarlos:  I’ve always wanted to do it.  Definitely a door has opened but as we well know, Hollywood has a road with many doors, and everyday my team and myself are working very hard to continue opening doors.  And eventually I’ll have the opportunities to do something in Hollywood for sure. I’ll continue to do music as well.

CineMovie:  Are there any actors you would love to work with?

Jencarlos:  There is such a long list.  Kathy Bates, Al Pacino, Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks --I can go on and on.  There’s so much talent out there.  They don’t all come to me at the top of my head.

CineMovie:  What is your favorite film?

Jencarlos: HOP coming out in April.

CineMovie:  Good answer. Post Cereal was running a contest to see you in concert in Miami on an all expense paid trip.  Is it bizarre to see yourself in the supermarkets on cereal boxes?

Jencarlos:  Are you eating my cereal?

CineMovie:  Yes, I am.  

Jencarlos: That was awesome.  It was a great experience.  I believe a lot in energy, laws of attraction, and power of the mind.  Whenever I sign an autograph, I sign it with the word ‘Think’ and a positive sign.  It’s not every day that you’re contacted by such a big brand and they ask you to write a song based on your thoughts of life.   We had a meeting with the clients and they were ‘you know what, we like the positive stuff you’re talking about we agree with you.  I think we can use you and tie with the brand.  Write a song about it.’ And I did.  And they chose it as the song for the campaign.  They put us on the cereal box.  It was a great process.

CineMovie:  Besides HOP on April 1st, what other projects are you working on?

Jencarlos: We have the second album coming out called ‘A New Day.’  It’s a Spanish album but there is on English track on the album, ‘All I Need is Your Love.’  The debut to that song is coming up soon and we’ll be playing on the Today Show and the Jay Leno show in May or June.  I’m also working on a new soap opera which we start filming April 7 through Telemundo.  

HOP is in movie theaters April 1, 2011.



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