North American Poetry
Do I belong? Who is it that I am? What is it that I’m for? Who’s that in my skin?
Juan Wauters seems like a cool guy. He’s cultured. He was born in Uruguay (and has a cool accent) and now lives in New York City. He’s funny. His first music video for Sanity of Not from his debut solo album North American Poetry features him wrestling women, a la Andy Kaufman. He’s fluent in Spanish (it sounds so good on the ears), as is evident on several songs on him album, including Escucho Mucho, which is sung entirely in Español. He’s deep. Several of his new songs contain very introspective lyrics such as “Do I belong? Who is it that I am? What is it that I’m for? Who’s that in my skin?” featured on the soft, acoustic standout track Water. The coolest thing about Juan Wauters though, is that he plays really, really cool music.
Wauters writes from a unique perspective, as a Uruguayan implanted in New York in the year 2000, he has had to adapt to the lifestyle of a New Yorker, while growing into a man at the same time. Fresh off the boat from Montevideo, Wauters began working in a picture frame factory with his father while they began saving money to bring the rest of his family to America. Wauters turned to music early as a way to help compensate for the fact that he had few friends, a hard commodity to come by as a foreigner in America. One of the first friends he made in America was Jose Garcia, and the two began to play music together, forming an indie rock band called The Beets. They had success in and around New York until the relationship of Wauters and Garcia began to dissolve. This breakup allowed for Wauters to venture into new territory as a solo artist, and resulted in his first record.
Wauter’s music seems to have been crafted directly from his soul, and after listening to the album, it is hard to imagine these songs coming from anybody but him. There are many not so subtle hints of South American influences in his guitar playing, and vocals as well. Wauters comments in an interview with Irish indie music blog Fractured Air, that many of his influences come from the Tango music his father would play when he was growing up. The quintessential South American style guitar is often present with Wauter’s music, but he pairs it with many more modern, Western melodies, which creates a unique sound that seems like it could be decades old, due both to the style and lo-fi quality of the recordings. Despite all of the influences from his past, Wauters comments that he is writing “New York music,” as a sort of ode to his new home.
North American Poetry is being released by Brooklyn label Captured Tracks, which has earned a reputation for cultivating a very eccentric lineup of artists. This eccentricity is not lost with Juan Wauters, who is able to lace his entire album with some of that absurd Mac Demarco (also a Captured Tracks artist) style humor. Wauters will be joining Demarco on his tour this spring, which is sure to make for a heck of a show. This humor is on full display of the track Goo, in which Wauters starts the song by proclaiming, “I am playing my guitar, because I’m good at it,” with his Spanish accent prominently in tow.
North American Poetry begins strongly with the song Let Me Hip You To Something, featuring some lovely Spanish guitar and Wauters singing in his typical unbridled, loose fashion. Wauters admits that he is the type of artist who really likes to finish things. So instead of staying in the studio all day trying to construct the perfect song with perfect instrumentation and feel, he prefers to just rip out a song in one take, and allow it to contain all of the emotion and rawness of the moment. He comments that the first feeling is the most real one, and you can feel that realness on this record. On Let Me Hip You To Something, this realness is truly apparent, as Wauters takes a vocal solo of pure tongue wobbling (I’m not proud of the vagueness of this description). Through all of this raw emotion, a very solid, very enjoyable album has been created that has Wauter’s New York DNA all over it.