Back in the halcyon days of last October, I received an intriguing email with the following subject line: 'Do you like Japanese food and/or Enrique Iglesias?'
The answers to which are yes and occasionally. Having replied saying I would be interested in dinner and a chat with the 'Suéltame las Riendas' hitmaker, things went quiet. Perhaps I was being too forward. Then in January I got another email apologising for all the teasing along with a further apology for the fact that dinner would now just be drinks. A fan of free wine in expensive hotels I decided I would still like to go along and see what Enrique had to say for himself.
So this happened on Wednesday evening, the first night of the tube strikes in London, which meant that a normally quite sedate journey could potentially turn into a five hour bus ride. So for that reason I decided to chart my journey just in case I didn't make it and I'd still have some 'content' to share with the Enrique fans glued to their computers for updates on his forthcoming album, 'Sex and Love'.
So here we go:
17:32 — I get on the number 30 bus mainly because the one I actually needed didn't stop and so I panicked. A woman at the back of the bus on her phone starts detailing every single thing that happens. 'We're not moving'. 'There are loads of people outside'. 'Can you get me some milk?'
17:33 — I think I'm on the wrong bus.
17:34 — "BAILAMOOOOS!"
17:36 — It's fine. This bus will do.
17:42 — Really heavy traffic around the Highbury area you guys.
17:46 — How does that Enrique song about ping pong balls go again?
17:47 — Everyone seems quite relaxed actually.
17:50 — Someone in front of me is organising a meal out at Pizza Express for later this evening.
17:55 — I mean, 'Hero' is how you do a ballad isn't it? "And I will stand by you… Foreverrrrr". Lovely.
17:58 — Ugh King's Cross is a bit if a nightmare. Avoid if you can.
18:07 — We're still in King's Cross :(
18:11 — Red light special.
18:17 — I doubt Enrique's having any travel problems.
18:29 — Nobody panic! I've just edged past Euston.
18:36 — I'm off the bus and walking around the Regents Park area. Everything's fine!
18:43 — I have arrived at Enrique's hotel. It's pretty fancy. The lady at the reception desk tells me the Enrique event is taking place in a bar around the corner. I imagine velvet sofas and champagne fountains.
18:45 — It's actually just in the public hotel bar, in a bit towards the back. There are some people from the label milling about already.
18:49 — Everyone's sitting down initially but then we're told to stand up as he's on his way.
19:10 — No Enrique as yet. :(
19:11 — There's a man playing the piano which is nice.
19:20 — Oh Enrique, where are you?
19:22 — There are nibbles, obviously, and they are: mini pizzas, chicken satay on sticks and battered prawns. Pretty standard.
19:28 — I shove a mini pizza in my mouth just as he arrives.
19:30 — He's wearing a trucker cap and had fallen asleep so that's why he's a bit late. Apparently he was in Paris the day before doing some promo.
19:35 — He's talking to some label people now. The pianist is playing an Alicia Keys song.
19:39 — Really nice red wine, served in a massive glass the size of a small bucket.
19:49 — I have a chat with Enrique's manager, who seems nice. He tells me some bits about Enrique's upcoming schedule, which all sounds really tiring.
19:58 — The piano man has fired up 'Hero', the cad.
20:14 — He's chatting to various members of the print media first.
20:28 — "This guy grabbed my nuts in GAY" is a thing Enrique says to the print people.
20:35 — Oh it's my turn, hang on.
Hello Enrique. How did your Kylie duet — 'Beautiful' — come about?
The Kylie one was a song I wrote about a year ago and then Mark Taylor, who's a producer, he was working with Kylie and they were talking about a collaboration and he was like 'what about Enrique?' and she said 'yeah, whatever'. So we were actually going to write a song together but then I thought 'why don't you play her the song I did a year ago' and then she emailed me saying, 'I love this song, let's do it' and the next day she recorded vocals for it.
Did you record it together?
No, she was here in London. I met her once like 'hi and bye', but I've seen her a million times.
[At this point another journalist starts asking him a question and before finishing his answer he turns to me and asks me how tall I am.]
I'm 6 foot 7.
People ask you that all the time right?
It's cool to see someone who's taller than me.
Usually when I meet popstar people they're smaller than I imagine but you're a bit taller in real life.
Yeah, people say that. I'm 6 foot 2. Do you play basketball?
I did when I was young.
I bet they always picked you for it. But it is true, it's hard to tell people's height on TV.
Beyoncé to me seems about seven foot tall but obviously isn't.
Really? Beyoncé's not that small in real life actually. You know who is? Madonna. Kylie is tiny too. But when I met Madonna I was like 'oh my God, I didn't realise you were that little'. But it says a lot about how powerful they are on screen. But Beyoncé wasn't small at all.
Oh well that's good to know. Why do you work with Pitbull so much?
Because I like him. We're good friends and whenever we work together we're in a studio together – it's not one of those things where it's like 'do you want to collaborate' and then never meet. He lives near me so we always meet up and we're good friends.
What's he like in real life?
He's awesome. He really is. He's enjoying where he's at and you can tell that he doesn't for granted. He takes it seriously to the point where if he tells you he'll be there at 5 o'clock, it's 5 o'clock, and he's a hardworking guy.
[I ask Enrique if he'll sign an autograph for my Nan, who's a big fan and recently had a bit of a fall. He's very happy to do it, which is nice isn't it]
I heard some of the other new songs of yours today.
Oh you did. I actually think the other Pitbull song [we can't tell you what that one's called yet, apols, but it features Pitbull rapping the line "I'm a mail man, I deliver"] should have been maybe also the first single, because I love that song.
How was the video shoot for 'I'm A Freak'?
It was exhausting. I'm not that type of person…It was just fun. Actually the director just threw a party and said let's just film everything, let's have a good time. You can kind of see it in the video. It doesn't feel very thought out. There are moments where if you actually focus you'll see my eye balls are looking at different places and people are just shouting 'go go go'.
Did Pitbull enjoy himself?
He did, yes.
Did I overhear that some guy grabbed your balls at GAY by the way?
Yeah this guy grabbed my balls and was giving me the thumbs up.
[We have a picture taken together. Enrique's not happy with the first pic. “I look so small”. I try to bend down but he prefers it if I stand normally and he goes on tip toe. He's happy with the second one. "Five inches makes such a big difference." After some more small talk about the British press ("there are lots of tits in the papers here"), he's off to bed.]
23:32 — After some post-Enrique drinks I am back on the bus on my way home.
'Sex and Love' is out on March 17.