We had the opportunity to chat with 20-year-old singer-songwriter Juliana Simone ahead of the release for her debut single “California.”
In her debut single, 20-year-old Juliana Simone offers twangy rock and roll chords juxtaposed with soaring, theatric vocals to share her story of self-discovery and growth. After all, she had to navigate a new school, a pandemic robbing her of traditional high school events, the grief that comes with losing loved ones, and more. With her guitar in hand, Juliana invites you to see reality through her lens…
How has your experience as a theater performer impacted the way you approach your music now and how has it benefited you on your journey as a musician?
“I think my experience in theater has taught me the value of storytelling. When I write songs, it’s all about the story for me—my songs are very theatrical. I approach songwriting similar to how I approach a show or a character I am working on. I always consider what I want, what’s my journey throughout the song, where do I end up, and who I am talking to. For every song, I have a clear person that I am talking to. Sometimes it changes every day, but it helps keep the song fresh and purposeful. It’s easier to perform when I have all of these things in mind. So, really it’s thanks theater for teaching me everything I know.”
Why do you think you reached for music and began writing original songs for the first time when you were at a dark period in your life?
“I realized that I couldn’t keep everything in anymore—it was too hard. I lost three people I loved in less than a year, and I needed to allow myself to feel every emotion and write it down. Ever since I was little, I have had a difficult time allowing myself to be vulnerable in front of others and towards myself because it’s easier for me to hide it all in. In the past, theater was my outlet, but it was all just through characters I was playing. I still had a place to hide, a mask to wear. Music has been such a huge part of my life that it was hard to avoid songwriting. I found that having the constraints of a song structure (a typical one being two verses, a chorus, and a bridge) forced me to get straight to the point with all of my feelings, emotions, and thoughts. Because there is such minimal time in a typical song, I don’t have time to word vomit or avoid confronting the experience I am having. Honestly, songwriting is a challenge for me, but it’s the healthiest thing I have ever done for myself. I am finally recognizing the strength of being vulnerable and unapologetic.”
Why did you choose this song as the first single from your upcoming album? Is it a good representation of what we can expect in the future?
“I knew California was going to be the first single instantly—it marked exactly where I am at in life, what I want to say, and who I am as a person. California is the heart of the album and the story that I am trying to tell through my songs. I don’t think a lot of people in my life realize how California has been such a huge theme in my life ever since I can remember. I always dreamed about California: the opportunities it would hold for me, the dreams that would come true, where I could escape from everything. At a bird’s eye view, moving to California and making my first single California seems so in your face obvious, but really it holds a lot of complex layers. I wrote most of my songs for this album in California, realizing that I really didn’t escape anything at all. I was still the same Juliana who was still facing the same struggles, no matter the acting job I booked, the relationship I was in, my daily view of the Hollywood sign, etc. The grief I was dealing with was so much to hold, and even though it probably wasn’t healthy for me to escape all the time, my recent time in California provided me with an opportunity to air all of my grievances. But, escaping can be fun sometimes, especially when you immerse yourself in a story for a while and I think a lot of my songs on my upcoming album can provide that, especially California.”
How has your Brazilian and Colombian heritage inspired your music, because it doesn’t seem like an obvious correlation with your indie-rock sound?
“My heritage has impacted my life in multiple ways, and I write about my life. There are certain experiences that are universal for immigrants and/or the children of immigrants, and I started noticing them when I moved from Miami to California. I’ve grown up with stories about my familys’ journey to the United States, Spanish and Portuguese flowing through the house, dancing to salsa and hearing Mariachi at parties, learning the sacrifices my family faced (and still face) to give me the opportunities they never had. I recognize the privilege I have and am so grateful for everything they have provided me that I make sure everything I do is for my family. I have this sense of responsibility of making my parents and ancestors proud, hoping they know that all of their sacrifices were worth something. This idea is something I explore throughout my upcoming album, and also influenced the title of the album. California definitely has Latin influences in the song musically, specifically in the pre-chorus, and I enjoy adding parts of where I came from into my music. Representation is important, and I hope I provide that in some way.”
What is your goal for this project and where do you hope to see yourself as an artist in 5 years?
“To finally release the album! I have been working on this album for more than a year, and I am eager to put my songs out there and let them go. These songs mean so much to me, they represent so much of who I am and my purpose for creating music. I also look forward to playing my songs live and forming a band who can support me on stage. In 5 years, I hope I will have released more music. I already have some songs and the idea of the direction I want to take for a potential second album. I also hope to learn more about myself as a person. I’m still pretty young and know I have a lot to learn, hopefully I learn to be open to new experiences. Then I’ll have stuff to write about, haha.”
Which artists inspire you the most?
“I got so lucky to have two parents who are obsessed with music of multiple genres. My dad taught me everything about the rock and new-wave music scene of the 70s and 80s, he always played The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Smiths, Pet Shop Boys, New Order, David Bowie, Prince, and so much more. My mom had a CD booklet with Alanis Morissette, Tom Petty, Otis Redding, Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, and the list goes on. Those artists continue to inspire me to work hard on my songwriting and music abilities. This year I’ve listened to a lot of Bob Dylan, Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, Gorillaz, Phoebe Bridgers, and Radiohead. I clearly have a genre-mess of a playlist.”
What can your followers expect from you for the remainder of 2022?
“Expect some more singles and potential music videos on the way! I hope to release one or two more songs before the end of the year. I am so excited to share them!”
Anything else you want to add?
“I am really excited for the fall, as I am studying abroad in London for the semester. I’ll be fully immersed in theater studying Shakespeare, but I can’t wait to check out the music scene! I hope to travel around Europe, and will probably share my experience on social media! So, if you’re interested in more music and travel updates, follow me on Instagram and TikTok (@thejulianasimone)!”
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