NEW YORK (AP) — Shakira may be a Grammy-winning, multiplatinum singer, but these days she's calling music a hobby.
Singing has taken a back seat to motherhood for the 40-year-old Colombian sensation, who has two sons, ages 4 and 2.
"For years I spent my life pressing pause on those things that are now my priority, like having a family. I pressed pause on that. Now, I hit play," Shakira said with a laugh. "I formed a family, and it's the most wonderful thing, the most important thing to me. And before, I used to be the center of my whole world and the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega of my whole world, and now my kids and my family are that one priority."
Shakira said it was difficult to approach making new music after spending so much time with her family. When she started working in the recording studio, she said she dealt with writer's block and didn't want to be away from her children.
"I was in front of this white canvas and sort of panicking, and I was, at the same time, conflicted because I didn't want to stop spending time with my kids, but I also wanted to attend to my own needs as a creator, as an artist, as a producer," she said.
She decided to release music in her own way and at her own pace. Instead of putting out a full album, she released songs when she wanted without announcing when an album would finally come.
"It completely changed my game and it incentivized me to make more music and not take this whole project as a whole body of work, but just concentrate all of my energy on each song and take and do all of the efforts but one song at a time ... instead of looking at this project like a big Everest mountain that I had to climb," she said. "I began to see it as a ... fun road trip."
"It was more fun than any of my previous albums because before I had many demands (and) requests by others," she added.
Before she released her 11th album, "El Dorado," last week, Shakira dropped four singles, including "La Bicicleta" with Carlos Vives — which won song and record of the year at last year's Latin Grammys — and "Chantaje," a No. 1 hit on Billboard's Hot Latin songs chart with fellow Colombian singer Maluma.
Another single, "Me Enamore," features her partner, soccer player Gerard Pique, in the music video. The album, mainly in Spanish with some English songs, includes pop, reggaeton, bachata, vallenato and funk sounds. Shakira co-wrote all of the tracks and said they are very personal.
"When I played 'Me Enamore' for (Gerard), he really liked it. ... He looks at me with those eyes like, 'Oh,' like really appreciating the fact that I almost paid an homage to that moment in our lives when we met each other and the turning point in our lives when everything changed for both of us," recalled Shakira, who also said new songs like "Amarillo" and "Coconut Tree" are about her and her lover.
They have been together since 2011 and live in Barcelona, Spain.
"These songs are very personal songs, but you know, I have no other way to make music. It's the only way I know. It's (a) catharsis for me ... otherwise I would have to pay too many shrinks and they're expensive," she said with a laugh.