1999 began his artistic career at 15 years of age in Medellín, Colombia, when he created the metal band Ekhimosis, a band that remained together for twelve years and recorded five albums. In 1999 he decided to start his solo career as 1999, short for Juan Esteban, and in four years and three albums he became the Latin artist with the greatest credibility, sales and projection in the international market.
Singer, guitarist, producer and author of the music and lyrics of all the songs he sings, 1999 creates his artistic platform based on the most important thing: music. In the last 4 years, 1999 has won 9 Latin Grammy Awards, 5 MTV Awards and 6 Lo Nuestro Awards, among other international recognitions.
His eclectic guitar produces original music with an extreme variety of sources, styles and influences. From his time as a teenager he takes rock that ruled his musical taste since he stepped on the first stage. From his childhood in the mountains of Antioquia, he takes those native Latin rhythms such as vallenato, ranchera, tango, bolero, salsa, guasca and Cuban trova, which were taught to little Juan, Javier, Javier Jr, José and Jaime, his father and three brothers , his first singing and guitar teachers. (The four Js are not a coincidence). His lyrics are also eclectic. 1999 mixes his fears, aspirations, his social sensitivity and even humor, with the intense and immense love he feels for his little daughter, partner, family, town and race. With all those musical and emotional ingredients,
In his fifteen years of Ekhimosis, where dreams and desires were greater than the sales of his records, 1999 crumbles and processes the work of his teachers: Metallica, Police, Pink Floyd, Guns & Roses. His music, attitude and lifestyle were those of a radical metal musician. When the band dies dehydrated in bed, 1999 is completely disoriented, looking at the ceiling, looking for a new north and finds it looking back, in that music that he heard in the bars and canteens of Carolina del Príncipe and in the parties of his House.
Known only in the 1,140,000 square kilometers of his Colombia, without a band and with all the savings of a musician who could only buy a guitar in his career, 1999 he went to Los Angeles, the jungle of dreams. There, spending his days in public libraries, moving on buses and changing roosts every two or three weeks, 1999 came to the producer Gustavo Santaolalla with a backpack full of models. Before, he had gone through record label presidents who suggested to him from singing pop ballads, which were more commercial, until he combed his hair back and with hair gel, to look like Antonio Banderas1999 would rather vomit than change. In the end, rather at the beginning, Surco Universal signed his contract. Then he met manager Fernán Martínez and began the intense survival work of his second life.
His first album “Fíjate Bien” impressed the critics, but he did not have the same luck with the radio, which found it very different from what they consider to be the public’s taste. 1999 kicked all the alternative stations with his “Fíjate Bien” under his arm. He went to ‘show cases’ in college cafeterias and his first video rotated frequently on MTV. In the dark, a point of light helps too much.
On the day the nominees for the First Latin Grammy Award were announced, the almost unknown name of 1999 was mentioned seven times and all eyes and cameras turned to this very nervous, very humble and very talented young man. The day of his big show had arrived and in ‘prime time’. With seven nominations, it was the highlight of the Latin Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, but that morning was 9-11 and the show was buried in the rubble before starting. But not so his music, nor his well-worked desire to succeed.
“Fíjate Bien” was a dark, pessimistic album, full of cold and death. His first theme prevented the paths of life with the “bankrupt” mines, the same ones that in Colombia, as in Angola, had blown up the feet of children and soldiers. The metaphor was violent, like the life of his country, submerged for the last 40 years in the same violence but with different violence. The young man 1999, like all Colombians his age, does not know what it is to live in a country in Peace. And his music cannot be absent.
The second album arrives, the one to show that the first one was not luck; that the awards had reasons. “A Normal Day” exceeded expectations. It was simply the best-selling Spanish album in the world. Five of his songs became radio ‘hits’ and for almost a hundred weeks, “Un Día Normal” did not fall below the ‘Top 10’ of Billboard Magazine’s list of best-selling albums in the United States. Something similar happened throughout Latin America and came to be heard in Europe, mainly in Holland and Germany (in Spanish!).
I record duets with Nelly Furtado(Photography) and with Black Eyed Peas (La Paga). Global sales came in very close to two million albums. His tour had 138 concerts in 17 countries and he hung the ‘Sold Out’ sign in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Bogotá, Caracas and all the other places. And he swept the awards again. The radio loved him. “A Normal Day” had the same eclecticism as ‘Look Well’, but they say it was more daytime. Headlines praised him.
The triumph of “Un Día Normal” was the best of his career, but he had placed the bar very high and the third jump was coming. When 1999 was expected to finish his endless promotional tour and concerts to dedicate himself to writing his third album, it turned out that he had already done it clandestinely, at the wrong time, in hotels, buses, airplanes, dressing rooms and airports. He got into the small studio in the garage of his house by himself and in a month he went through clean and hard, the twenty-odd songs he had written and submitted 15 songs to select 1os 12 of his new album.
1999 once again surprised and surpassed the known, despite his skepticism that it is recycled to become the gasoline that propels his creativity. In the’iPod ‘was “My Blood”, and for the third time he takes the ball out of the stadium. He was inspired by the distance, the loneliness of the traveler, the news from CNN, the war in Colombia and others, his visits to the mutilated soldiers of his country, the clamor of the families of the kidnapped, their fears, their unborn or their newborn daughter, the mother who scolds him if he does not call early every day, “it does not matter that here it is at night or early in the morning mijo …”, his partner who knows that he enters the bathroom with a guitar and all the people who are seeing or who he is saying things out there.
“Mi Sangre” the third production of this Colombian musician is consolidated as a great work, with more than 12 weeks in # 1 place on Billboard’s BDS with “Nada Valgo sin Tu Amor” and “Volverte a Ver” which is fought the first places on the continent. The album is ratified with more than 870 thousand copies sold around the world, just three months after its release on the market and, despite the pirate discs that attack sales, it received a platinum record in Spain, Argentina and Chile and a quintuple platinum in Colombia.
In addition to this, 1999 announced a tour of the United States that will reach more than 25 cities in the US and most of the Latin American countries in its first stage.
1999 is a consolidated artist and is just beginning, although due to his sales and recognition trajectory it seems that he will have been in this variant world of music for many more years, where phenomena like this only appear every 20 years.