Sporting a fedora decorated in skulls, eye-catching tattoos and diamond earrings, Eduardo Cruz could pass as an actor as he sits smoking on the terrace of the María Cristina Hotel in San Sebastián. He’s here to promote the soundtrack — the first of his career — to Venuto al mondo, the new film starring and produced by his sister, actress Penélope Cruz, now out in Spain as Volver a nacer. “When [director] Sergio Castellitto handed me the job, I got scared,” he remembers. “He was looking for a musician, and I had a lot of ideas... saved for other things. I ended up traveling to Sarajevo [where the drama is set]. I wanted to feel the experience of war to understand the horror, and I found it through the suffering faces of the people. That inspired me.”
Cruz is passionate and convincingly humble as he talks. Music, he says, has always been his vocation. “In the videos that I recorded with my sisters when I was small my house looked like a circus. Each one doing their own thing. One acting; another, over there, dancing, and me, six years old, trying to make music with strange things, saucepans or whatever. It seemed normal to us, but seen from the outside...”
The 27-year-old Madrileño lives in Los Angeles, where he moved to seek success as a musician. He admits he finds life there a bit lonely: “It’s difficult to have a friend like you have in Madrid. Everyone does their own thing. When I see a Spaniard here I just want to hug them and say let’s go for a walk.”
And how does he get on with his brother-in-law Javier Bardem? “Fucking brilliantly,” he blurts out impulsively. “I get on great with him.”
After leaving high school, Cruz attended the Creative Music school in Madrid for three years and started composing. A few songs he sent to a friend at Warner Mexico turned into a record contract and in 2006 he released his debut album, Cosas que contar, there. The pop record caused something of a stir thanks to a music video that starred his two sisters, Penélope and Mónica (also an actress), as performers dubbing a lesbian porn movie. Did it help sell the album?
“I suppose it captured attention, but I was already onto something else. I did concerts in Mexico, and I loved playing, above all because in them I could give my tracks a different sound, but I felt like I wasn’t doing the music I wanted. And that grated on me. Sometimes I fancied breaking my guitar and doing something else. Finally, I decided that pop was not the path I wanted to follow; I preferred to do commercials, instrumental themes. A year ago I did the arrangements on a Lancôme campaign.” His sister has been the face of the company’s Trésor fragrance since 2010.
In 2011 Cruz wrote a song for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, in which Mónica doubled for Penélope, who was then pregnant with son Leo. “An awesome experience. Seeing myself working with [composer] Hans Zimmer, who I consider a genius, was very strange. My sister wanted to show him one of my songs and when he listened to it, he wanted to put it in the film. I told him, ‘No, no, man.’ I was scared to death.”
Despite his competence as a musician, it’s of course precisely because of his sisters and for having gone out with Eva Longoria that he has become famous. “Of course, of course, and it is very fucked up. I don’t read the press, I don’t watch TV, zero. Yes, I have Twitter, and sometimes it annoys me, because I see things that make me think: ‘And who are these people? I don’t know what you are talking about.’ I carry on making my music, and I think that the music says more than I do. I have little to say about those kind of things.”