It’s always fascinating to hear the back story on some musicians, if the back story is actually interesting. Juan Wauters has quite an interesting back story. Juan came over to the U.S. from Uruguay to live with his father Alberto in a basement in Queens in the early 2000s. He worked in a factory with his Dad to help pay for transporting the remaining members of the Wauters family to New York for a fresh start. Juan didn’t have a ton of friends in his new home so he used his library card to gain access to lots of new music and found inspiration. He now makes his home in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, writing and recording music. Interesting story, right? I thought you’d like that.
You may remember Juan’s jangly, lo-fi folk rock band The Beets (no, not like from the children’s television show “Doug”).
They put out a couple records a few years ago and toured fairly extensively. Juan will be releasing his first solo effort on February 4, 2014 titled “N.A.P. (North American Poetry)” on Captured Tracks records, home of Mac Demarco, Wild Nothing, and DIIV to name a few. I have a feeling it will be one of the strongest releases of next year and gain Mr. Wauters quite a bit of buzz throughout the year. In an oversaturated market of Americana style folk and “yall-ternative” music, “N.A.P” should be a bit of a refreshing take on that classic, vintage folk sound of the 1960s but with the added flavor of garage rock and punk.
Captured Tracks floated a single into the internet called “Water” that finds Juan singing in his thick accent and simply playing guitar. The song starts like a traditional 60s folk song but there’s a surprising change in the last minute and a half. Juan’s lyrics are simple and not necessarily self effacing but the words of a man who spends a lot of time thinking, “Do I belong? Who is that I am? What is it that I’m for?”, he says
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on the track. His voice is amateurish and “matter of fact” but fits quite well with the tone of the music. I’ve read people compare Wauters to Syd Barrett and Daniel Johnston, but the latter of those two seems the most accurate. “Doing is doing. Doing is nothing, nothing is doing” is another line that grabbed me from this one. Feels a lot like a Daniel Johnston lyric.
I’ve listened to this song probably a 100 times since Captured Tracks put it on their Soundcloud page and I think it’s really a great song. You can almost imagine Juan sitting on a bar stool wearing a black turtle neck, black pants, black Chelsea boots and sun-glasses, plucking a nylon-stringed guitar in a smokey underground coffee house in New York in 1963. And Bob Dylan looks on and says, “Yeah man, I dig this cat”. That’s a cool picture.
For more information on Juan Wauters, check out his page on Captured Tracks’ website. The album comes out in February of 2014 and Juan will undoubtedly be touring the country. Maybe we will get a chance to catch him here in the Magic City.