I recently had the chance to catch up with the uber talented singer songwriter Juvicsa Vela, who released her debut EP Eyes to Land produced by Federico Angel earlier this year. In our interview Juvicsa opens up about the new EP, her writing process and some of her musical influences.
Born in Peru, Juvicsa discovered her god-given talent for singing and passion for music at an early age, and when she moved to Sweden with her mother at the age of 12 her artistry really began to take root. Having lived all over the world, it’s not surprising that Juvicsa’s music exhibits traces of influences from many cultures.
Juvicsa first began working on the EP while living in Los Angeles where she attended the Musicians Institute, but in search of new inspiration and a change of scenery, she moved to Reykjavik, Iceland last year where she finished the album working remotely with her LA-based producer Federico Angel.
Eyes to Land can easily fit into the pop/rock category, but with R & B and Latin elements, not to mention Juvicsa’a powerful vocals and bittersweet lyrics, the EP eloquently defies genres.
You can purchase Juvicsa’s debut EP Eyes to Land on Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. There’s also a limited amount of signed physical copies for purchase on Bandcamp. You can also find out more about her and get updates on upcoming shows through her website, Facebook and YouTube channel.
Juvicsa also wrote the popular theme song for an Indonesian adventure TV show sponsored by Mitsubishi called “Jonsson & Robinson Journey,” which premiered to millions of viewers across the country.
To find out more about Juvicsa and her new EP make sure to check out our interview below.
How old are you?
28 years young
When and how did you first get into music?
I must’ve been around 4 or 5 when I started to sing. I had this boombox with a built in mic and a lot of cassettes. I used to spend hours and hours and hours on the floor with my boombox, recording myself singing and creating harmonies over my recordings, I think that’s when I first created something musical. This was so liberating to me, a kid who was a rebel, always getting in trouble at school but when I went back home and locked myself in my room I’d spend hours singing and doing all those things I loved to do and that was my outlet. Then I started writing songs at the age of 15 with an old piano my mother got for me and a little MIDI controller.
When you say you were a rebel– what kind of trouble were you getting into?
As a very hyperactive kid, I didn’t really like to follow the rules at school so I got sent to the principal’s office very often for roughhousing and sneaking out of class to play with the older kids.
What do you think might have happened if you hadn’t found music as an outlet?
I already have a hard time focusing on one thing at a time so I think I would’ve probably lost my mind a little. I don’t think I would have been able to deal with the darkness and the difficulties of growing up. I would’ve possibly kept getting in trouble.
How long were you working on “Eyes to Land” before its September release?
It took me about a year from scratch to finished product, a lot of it had to do with the fact that I was in Iceland and my producer was back in the states, so there was a lot of going back and forth, time differences and work on both our parts. Lots of coffee, little sleep.
Can you give us a little back story on the EP and where you got your inspiration from?
I moved to Iceland a week after my grandma passed away, my grandma was more like a second mother to me, so the whole process of composing the EP was a very emotional one. I definitely think that both Iceland’s landscapes and nature, and being in a very emotional state, brought the EP out, especially being in a brand new country.
Did you write all of the songs on the EP?
I did, along with my producer.
What is the writing process like for you?
I think the writing process was different for each song, I could get inspiration by sitting by the ocean in Reykjavik, being in the shower for another song, conversations I had with friends that sparked something in me and made me drop everything and write. I do spend a lot of hours alone in the beginning, I think that’s what works best for me and I’m more comfortable that way. After writing a song I’d call my producer and we’d go to the next step, more composing, polishing, re-recording and so on, all through FaceTime.
Can you tell us about your inspiration for some of the songs?
Well for example “High Tonight” was born out of a glass of wine and a late night conversation with a friend of mine. She was going through a tough break up at the time and she said a couple of things that really struck me. I dropped everything, went over to the keyboard and started writing it, it was written in a couple of hours. She actually doesn’t know about it yet!
For “Unaware” I had to dig a little deeper, it’s definitely a very personal song to me. My inspiration came from being in a toxic environment and feeling exhausted but still seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, still not being able to let go of that thing that can break you but can save you. The sound for “Unaware” is definitely influenced by No Doubt and Spanish music.
“Now” is the song about hope. Like I said, there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel and this is it, this is your saving moment, it’s you giving in instead of giving up. “Now” is kind of my full circle song.
What is your favorite song off of the EP right now?
My personal favorite is “Unaware.” I’m very emotionally attached to that one.
Why did you choose to name the EP “Eyes to Land”?
It’s a poetic play on words. This EP symbolizes a person trying to deal with death and rebirth at the same time. The name comes from trying to deal with the death of someone so close that in a way symbolized the death of a part of me, but also the rebirth, which for me was moving to another country. That in both situations you need guidance, you need eyes. If not your own, then someone else’s.
How would you describe the album to those who haven’t had a chance to hear yet?
A shoegaze and pop/rock mix with emotional but energetic vocals. With all kinds of raw ENERGY ranging from sad to sensual.
Did you play any instruments on the album?
I played the keys on the final product but I program different instruments when I’m in the writing process as well so that everything is the way we want it.
Do you have a consistent band backing you?
Not as of now I don’t. It’s hard to keep one consistent band with you when you’re traveling a lot.
Who else was involved in the making of your new EP “Eyes to Land”?
Federico Angel as producer and instrumentalist, the amazing Ro Rowan on cello, Dean Dichoso as instrumentalist, Dean Dichoso Productions for mix and mastering and Steinunn Osk Axelsdottir as sound engineer on vocals.
How did you choose Federico Angel as your producer for the album?
From the first day we started working together I knew there was something that clicked. It’s actually very simple, we’re both very straight to the point and he knows exactly what I want and how I want things to sound, sometimes even without fully explaining what I mean, he gets it. I mean it’s gotta be a good match when the artist is explaining a sound as a color or a metaphor and the producer completely gets it down.
You’ve had a pretty multi-cultural upbringing, can you tell us about some of the places you’ve lived and how they have affected your journey as a musician?
I was born in Lima, Peru but I moved to Lund, Sweden when I was 12, as an adult I moved to Los Angeles and as of last year I live in Iceland. All of these moves and amazing experiences with different cultures make my music what it is. Ultimately all I want is to unapologetically mix everything I know and write something I think will sound great and people will relate to.
Were your parents involved in music as well?
No, my parents weren’t but I have singers and artists in my extended family.
Can you tell us a little bit about Iceland’s music culture? Do you feel that it has influenced your work as a musician?
Funny thing about being like a sponge when you’re a musician, I sent my producer a demo during our Eyes To Land writing process and he thought it sounded Björk-esque, which obviously was a huge compliment that I most likely didn’t deserve but it really made me think about inspiration always changing and how it can be so related to where you are, I think it’s amazing.
I’m a really big fan of Icelandic music, coming from Sweden, I initially thought it could be similar but it’s really an art of its own. To me, the peculiar sound that Icelandic music has, has to do a lot with the isolation of the island and even modern Icelandic music has a characteristic sound with traces of the old.
Are you involved in any collaborations at the moment or are you mostly focusing on your solo career?
I’m working with a couple of artists at the moment for minor projects or songs I’ll be featured in but I’m mostly focusing on my solo career at the moment.
What five albums are you listening to most right now?
Garbage’s new album “Strange Little Birds,” Sia’s “This is Acting”, Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” and waiting impatiently for the New Lady Gaga album and the new Beth Hart album!
If you didn’t become a musician, what profession do you think you might have chosen?
I think I would’ve still been involved with the arts in some way, I would’ve been around music and art in any way I could. I always try not to let plan B distract me from plan A though.