Menudo was one of the first Latino boy bands to be celebrated and embraced in the US and abroad. Not only have they altered the way boy bands are seen, allowing members to age out and find their own unique voices, but also they have been at the forefront of representing Latinos worldwide. I have fond memories of listening to their music, seeing them perform live and evolve over the past several decades. Menudo has always evoked a sense of nostalgia for me, so when I had the opportunity to chat with Emmanuel, one of the five new members of Menudo, there was a lot of ground to cover, after all their reality show “Making Menudo” couldn’t have told us the entire story.
nocheLatina: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your full-length album. Menudo was the group my parents would let me listen to and who they enjoyed me listening to, is that still the kind of music you are creating, something “family friendly”?
Emmanuel: Our music is for everybody. Our music has all of the age ranges from kids to adults’, even grandmothers. We are aiming for everything, every age, genre, everything. People are going to love it! We go to shows and even moms say “Oh my god! Menudo is back!” or “Thank you so much for inspiring my daughters to do this” and it’s just been awesome.
nocheLatina: Was becoming a celebrity and someone who represents Latinos, something you were expecting when you joined the group?
Emmanuel: Seriously, yeah, we love music and all that stuff, but at the same time, we not only have the opportunity to let people know how we feel in songs, but we are also role models. For us that is so important.
nocheLatina: Do you think having the hype of the television show “Making Menudo” helped to introduce you as a group?
Emmanuel: Seriously, the show didn’t get that many ratings. What is good about the show is that people can see us and think “man they worked their way up.” Every show we performed, no matter if it was 2, 100, or 1000 people at the show, people can see we worked our way up and that’s not typical of a reality show. So I think we are moving our way up because we want to and because we love it.
nocheLatina: Do you feel you are held to the standard of the original Menudo(s) or are you forging your own sound?
Emmanuel: We know that it’s a new generation, so it’s not going to be the same as the old Menudo. But we do want the same thing. We won’t forget, but when you hear our music, it’s new, a new style, at the same time we are still singing in Spanish, it’s just fun. Some people don’t understand because it’s a change and they think of Menudo as one way, and then they see us and think “Man I don’t like that because it’s kind of weird.” At the same time people are saying: “Wow, Menudo is back and it’s better.” People have different opinions and feedback from people has been amazing.
nocheLatina: I definitely think you’ve evolved and moved not just as a group but also as a genre. All of you have a connection to Puerto Rico, and Puerto Ricans definitely identify with Menudo, are you expanding that audience to all Latinos and those in the Spanish speaking community?
Emmanuel: I think it helps a lot being Latino and working in other markets. We do have a wider audience so if we know another language we’ll sing and people don’t mind, but I think it’s cool and a plus for us.
nocheLatina: Are you thinking about remaking any Menudo classics?
Emmanuel: Of course! We want to do it but when our own sound is done, when people know our faces and sound. We are going to perform songs like “Zumbador,” “Clara,” “Claridad,” all those songs that we know from our parents. We plan to do it but right now we are focusing on our single and album.
nocheLatina: Are there any collaborations you are looking forward to or interested in pursing?
Emmanuel: We have some collaborations I’m going to say one of them because it’s one of the songs we sing in the show and perform, it is called “Midnight” with Pitbull. He’s featured and it’s cool working with him. It was awesome.
nocheLatina: You identify as the 'reggaeton' member, how was it working with Pitbull?
Emmanuel: It was really awesome. I felt really good, it’s not a rap, but it’s in Spanish and there was a little rapping part that was awesome, it was really cool. And we also worked with Looney Tunes, for me that was like “oh my god!” I grew up listening to them and there is a part in the song where I sing “Looney Tunes.” So it’s exciting.
nocheLatina: Who are some of your reggaeton influences?
Emmanuel: Obviously, Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, RKM & Ken-y, there are so many, but those are the ones I look up to a lot. And I also like other artists and genres like Chayanne,
Luis Fonsi, stuff like that.
nocheLatina: Are you all plugged in with ipods, mp3s, and laptops while touring?
Emmanuel: Oh yeah, I have everything, my mini keyboard, dvd, ipod, everybody has their stuff.
nocheLatina: What was the most recently downloaded song/album/cd?
Emmanuel: It was "Casa De Leones," I liked their album and I put it in my ipod yesterday. I like it and we know one of the guys.
nocheLatina: What is your best memory with the group so far?
Emmanuel: There have been a lot. I think one of them was when we were performing and we didn’t think too many people would be there and when we walked out it was like “whoa,” there are a lot of people here. That was cool.
nocheLatina: Are there any places you are looking forward to performing?
Emmanuel: Right now anywhere. We are up for performing and hearing what people think about our songs and performance.
nocheLatina: What else do you want people to know about Menudo?
Emmanuel: We have a webpage (www.menudoworld.com), and we have a Myspace page (www.myspace.com/menudo), and on our myspace we have our telephone number which is 305.351.6454. People can call and leave a message and we can call them back and talk with them. And our myspace page is something we run. We answer all the letters; nobody else is doing it for us.
Menudo’s album is out December 23, 2008. You can hear their latest singles of "Lost, Perdido Sin Ti, Move and More Than Words A.E." on their website, and watch videos on their YouTube page (http://www.youtube.com/user/menudo?ob=1)