It’s quite a leap, relocating from Madrid, Spain, to Los Angeles. But that’s exactly what singer and songwriter Juana Everett did – crossing the Atlantic and altering the course of her life, and her career, forever.
“I’ve been playing music since I was a little kid,” Everett told us over the phone. “I started playing piano when I was a kid, so my music journey started pretty early. But in the first years, it was focused on classical music, and then when I became a teenager, I dropped the piano and picked up the guitar and I was learning all the songs from the ‘90s that I liked.”
Everett says that it was a hobby initially – that her family supported her music but didn’t think it could be a serious career. But in her early 20s, she started working in the business side of the music industry, and all that changed.
“I had a folk band, then I dropped that band and started playing songs on my own,” she says. “So it was in my early 20s really when I thought, maybe this could be an option for me.”
Around three years ago, Everett made the decision to move to SoCal. She had quit her job and had gotten out of a toxic relationship, and the time was right.
“I had visited California and had always wanted to come here because I was very interested in the music scene and found myself in a place where it’s now or never,” she says. “I’m glad that I came when I turned 30 instead of my very early 20s because I feel like you need a level of maturity to make things happen around here. I’m glad it took me a minute.”
Madrid and Los Angeles are, unsurprisingly, very different cities. Both, though, are culturally rich and gloriously vibrant hotspots. L.A. simply suited Everett better, at least for now.
“I feel like the audience for the type of music that I like is here, and the amount of bands is not as diverse, eclectic and rich as out here,” she says. “Madrid does have a folk rock scene, there’s some Americana-influenced bands, but the scene is very small compared to here, and by the time I left I felt like I knew everybody. I really knew every corner of what was going on out there that really interested me. I felt like I needed a challenge.”
The results of that challenge are the Move On album, out early next year and the long-awaited follow up to the EP she released five years ago. She’s naturally very proud of the way it came out.
“I had only put out one EP before this, before I left Spain,” Everett says. “I produced it with the guitar player I was friends with at the time, and he knew more about the studio setting and production. I felt a little insecure when making decisions back in that project. When I started working on this album, I really wanted to understand every aspect of the mixes, the recording process and how I wanted things to happen. I’ve learned so much along the way. I’m a very obsessive person, so it’s really taken me a long time to really be like, ok it’s done. I can let go of it. But I feel proud because I think it turned out great, and I’ve been very lucky to work with incredible musicians and engineers. It’s been a lot of work but a lot of growth.”
The album’s themes, she says, cover the transitions she’s seen in her life.
“Not only the physical transition of moving from Madrid to L.A., but a way of redefining myself and redesigning who I want to be, how I want to live my life,” she says. “So it’s all about this intense process of restart and I feel like, in a way, this year is a little bit of that for everybody.”
That 2015 EP was great, if a little more definable. The Americana, folk sound was front and center whereas now, she’s allowing herself to stretch her wings.
“I feel like with this album, I’ve been like, how do my songs sound and how can I make music that’s not responding to a specific genre?” she says. “Let’s just work for the songs. Let’s arrange every song in the way that works best to communicate whatever the song is about. So I feel like I’ve been way more open to experiment with different influences that have been part of my upbringing too. I think you can hear some ‘90s and even ‘80s within that folk and indie rock sound.”
All of this, of course, has been going on during a pandemic. While she understands the severity of the situation, she’s been able to make lemonade.
“I’ve been lucky to get unemployment,” she says. “It’s been hard, but on the other hand, it’s been a blessing in that I’ve had time to focus on releasing this album and spending some more time making music. I can’t complain because me and my people are all healthy. It’s just mentally very stressful to be locked in the house. But I can’t complain.”
With the album set to be released in January and a single, “Drifter of Love,” out now, Everett is looking to forge ahead with more singles and videos, and perhaps livestreams.
“I like the social aspect of livestreams, as in it’s a way to connect somehow with people that I don’t get to see these days,” she says in conclusion. “But it’s hard for me to obviously feel it as intensely as when it’s a real live show. So I have mixed feelings about livestreams, unless they are super good quality and you really can create a level of sound quality that it’s gonna be worth it. Those are cool, but there’s a lot of Instagram live and things like that, that don’t really portray the sound. I don’t know how I feel about that. I’m focusing more on the actual recordings, promoting those. Creating videos that have a feeling and communicate something powerful. I’m gonna be releasing a video early in January right before the album that I’m very proud of. Maybe considering a livestream, but still considering my options and making decisions.”
Juana Everett’s Move On album is out January 22. The “Drifter of Love” single is out now.