We constantly feature new & notable indie artists that drive innovation in all aspects of songwriting, production & performance. Meet our latest featured artist in an exclusive interview. Introducing You To Your Next Favorite Artist: Julian Borrego
Meet Julian Borrego, a sought after multi-instrumentalist, Los Angeles based producer and singer-songwriter. Hailing from an extensive musical family with a world famous guitar playing grandpa (Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles), it is to no surprise that Borrego created his own musical endeavour. After performing in numerous bands under the Universal and Warner Music subsidiaries, Borrego toured with Stone Temple Pilots where he played regularly to sold-out crowds. Tasting the success but lacking creative control and direction of the band, Borrego decided to focus on his solo project.
Comments from the Curators
Review by Josh S. Pineda, Founder & Curating-Editor
Ouroboros: the mystical symbol of a snake eating its own tail, representing a type of cyclical completeness. It’s a fitting title for Julian Borrego’s debut EP, as Borrego creates immersive, ornamented soundscapes that feel whole and almost infinite in their exploratory and improvisational qualities. As Borrego describes it, “This EP was like a crock pot of sounds and instruments, blending together and creating new tastes for myself.” Combining delicious psych-funk with mouthwatering jazz elements, Julian Borrego’s music has a fervent vibrancy full of addicting wit.
Each song on the Ouroboros EP has its own alluring personality, each not afraid to be experimental, but also remain accessible enough for listeners to remain engaged and just enjoy nicely weaved-together sounds. Lead single “Small Talk” is the most suited to be a radio hit, with its cool vibe and charming turn-of-phrase delivered via suave falsetto. It’s a refreshing jam with a wavy guitar development that’s just so stimulating. You’ll be singing, “have too much things to do, before I give up on you” right back to Julian.
“Weekdaze” is a fuzzy feedback frenzy, just as we all know getting through the work week is. There’s a nice tactile nature to the pedal effects. This song displays Borrego’s attention to incredible layering, making busy melodic lines feel perfectly refined even when instrumental lines collide and grow. There’s a nice strutting groove that holds everything together, in the most jazz-influenced track on the EP
Reminiscent of a MGMT, Peter Bjorn & John, and Tame Impala production quality, “Xeriscape” glistens and transports you to a desert-night dream. It’s so effortless and open like a comforting expanse. “Sound Is” brings traditional psych-funk with shredding and tasty guitar, and a loungy piano development strung throughout, truly “the sound is what keeps me sound.” “123” is worldly and a bit sultry, laid-back yet commanding, a perfect soundtrack to a Sunday-at-dusk dance. “Mbuti / Devotion to the Rainforest” definitely sounds like modern African tribal-rock, but with a slight cybernetic integration that aligns the song closer to the rest of the EP.
“Outrothanks4listeningadios!” reminds us what this album is about, actually what this blog is about too: “No te olvides de musica independiente.” Don’t forget about independent music, it’s “exuberant,” and “spectacular.” Remember to “support the arts.” All of this is said against a slowed-down, manipulated, and deconstructed psych hangover. This vanishing end reminds of the beginning, we no longer “sound feeble” because we’re nourished by the tasty body and tail-end of the album. We’ve gone through a renewal with ever-changing, ever-exploring songs. We are complete and ready to begin again. This “Exploration of Infinity” was a success, as it reminds us of the evolution and innovation of sounds that indie artists like Julian Borrego are ever-so great at. The ouroboros gives us a perfect allegory for what indie culture can do and where it can take us, being constantly reborn and creating new from old, existing sounds and instruments.
What are your top 3 favorite albums that inspired you to get into music?
Too many to name. Not in order, Abbey Road, Dark Side of the Moon, Spice Girls Greatest Hits (no joke, I listened to this and Abbey Road on repeat as a 3-5 year old).
What are your fondest musical memories?
The times I play guitar duets with my grandpa, and listening to him play with his friends. One time he recorded a guitar solo on a song of mine; as always I was extremely nit-picky about what I wanted, and although I was hesitant to be that way with him, he was so stoked about the direction I was giving him. At age 89 he did 50-something takes, until it was what I had in my head. He had as much energy and excitement, if not more than I did. I couldn’t believe it.
Another time was seeing Santana play when I was 12 or so, It blew my mind. For some reason that moment also really inspired me to become a musician.
Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener?
Sometimes I’ll go for some time, weeks on end, only listening to my own music, and what I’m trying to workout, then I’ll go for a few weeks and binge listen to anything inspiring. It’s usually a combination of some modern stuff, and old, …
It’s hard to say, because it varies like crazy, for instance this week I’ve revisited Dr. Dre’s 2001, Weezer’s Green Album, David Bowie’s Space Oddity, heard for the first time Tyler The Creator’s Flower Boy, Wilco’s Yankee Foxtrot, a ton of stuff on different radio stations.Last week I was binge listening to Antonio Carlos Jobim, checked out PJ Morton’s new Record Gumbo (neo-soul gospel, etc), indian spiritual music (sounds of isha), the jazz of Wynton Kelly, Erika Badu, Washed Out’s new record, the new Grizzly Bear, etc…
What is your creative process like? How do you approach the writing process? Is there a particular message or theme central to your creative works?
Most of music is written very quickly. When I get an idea, I record it immediately on my phone or whatever is close, and then develop it further. Many songs I write, I’ll write in 3-15 minutes, record them myself the moment I feel the inspiration coming through, and then find out the words and message I was trying to originally iterate. It’s after this that I usually arrange and record.
However this record was different… The EP was basically an experiment in production for me. I had dug up some groovy drum samples, and unlike most of the songs that I had written, or write, these tunes were constructed from the drums up; drums recorded first, then harmony, riffs, arrangement, then melody. I wanted to see what kind of sounds and landscape I could create with the instruments available and my voices, throw a bunch of stuff against the wall, and see what stuck. There were a bunch of other tunes, but these were the ones I thought fit together best. This EP was like a crock pot of sounds and instruments blending together and creating new tastes for myself.
The feelings or nature that inspire most of my music, usually come from a ‘darker’ place. In traditional indian philosophy there is a word ‘maya’ which generally means ‘delusion’, the fluctuating nature of joy and suffering. I think the feelings that create my music are often an expression of ‘maya’; some higher more true unchanging spiritual reality, grappling with experiencing the drastic duality of being a human.
The messages vary, from love, to frustration, to joy, to social commentary, to spirituality,… it depends. I find out what I’m trying to say as the song goes on, hardly ever do I have an idea of what the song is about before I write it. It’s as though the song is already written and I’m just uncovering what’s meant to be found. However the intention with all my music, and I think music in general, is to move, touch, and inspire people, in the process of healing and bringing joy to myself and others
We’re a firm believer that the cities that artists are based in helps craft their sound. How would you describe your city’s music scene? How has it inspired you into crafting your sound?
LA and SF both have shaped my sound, but also other places I’ve travelled to like Spain, Ecuador, Colombia, have greatly influenced my music.
I think the music scene in LA is amazing, there is a musician under every rock in LA and always something great to learn and to check out live. The radio in LA, and the hustle of all the artists has shaped my sound. It feels like LA is going through a kind of cultural renaissance. Even with all the messed up issues surrounding homelessness, gentrification, traffic, etc that deserve attention, there’s an amalgam of styles and people combining, creating in these strange and pressing times, socially and politically. Artists and friends of all walks, dancers, film, writers, actors, feel it and inspire one another. I think there is a certain desire for community in LA that’s palpable.
How would you describe your visual aesthetic, in terms of album artwork, music videos, and artistry? How does the music you create contribute to your visuals? Does this extend to your live show experience?
Yeah man, shows can definitely be flamboyant and costume-esque, for performers and audience alike.
As an indie artist in the digital age, social media and streaming are essential tools for marketing and promotion. What do you think about online music sharing, both as a music fan and as a musician? How do you think social media/music streaming services impacts the rising musician?
Being able to listen to so much music for $10 a month is amazing, I can’t lie, however my wallet may beg to differ. Social media streaming and all that stuff is great in many ways because you can bypass what a label may tell you to do and put out wtvr you feel; you are basically creating your own business! And there is a ton of collaboration and inspiration, and creativity. The downside is, it’s unfortunate how much non-musical stuff plays into creating a musical career. And I think music as a whole definitely suffers when people are spending less time on the craft of music making.
What is your dream collaboration and why?
I don’t really have one. I’ve heard you shouldn’t meet your idols, haha. I don’t think about it, I just do me.
Which songs are you currently obsessed with? What new acts do you recommend to our listeners? What bands do you believe are your best kept secret in the indie community?
I think Nick Hakim’s record Green Twins is my summer favorite. Any songs off of that are great. Definitely obsessed with “Island in the Sun” by Weezer this week – hep hep. James Supercave is a band that is great in LA, but I am the best kept indie secret in the community.
What are you currently working on? Any new projects?
Writing new songs as always, working on a record, collaborating with some producers this time potentially, getting a band together and beginning to play out live this month actually! ALSO, I’m releasing music video for single “small talk” soon. Stay tuned !
Get Ouroboros via SoundCloud.
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