He decided to return home to his native country after living in Britain for a number of years. We caught up with the talented Spaniard to discuss his new album, working with Ben Howard and what it was like to receive a song writing award from Sir Paul McCartney.

After spending many years in the UK, your new album, ‘Back on Track’ was recorded in your homeland, Spain. What made you decide to record your latest album at home?
The offer to work with Carlos Jean as a producer and his nee company Muwom was very appealing, and returning home was special from a sentimental point of view. London is pretty draining as you know, but i dont regret a single day!

‘Back on Track’ features a mixture of music genres, including soul, blues, pop, big beat rhythms and electronic loops. Was this a conscious decision, or did it happen naturally as the album progressed?
It happened as Carlos and I began to meet in the middle within musical conversations, very naturally. Without wanting to discard everything I’d been doing previously, we wanted a fresh approach to the songs, stripping back a few elements, or adding loops and new elements in others.

Obviously you like lots of different types of music, but do you have a favourite music genre?I’ve always listened to classic soul songs of old as well as the great american songwriters such as Billy Joel, Paul Simon or James Taylor. You can’t go wrong with such established artists that are always a kind of masterclass everytime you listen to them. These songs become timeless.

As you mentioned, the album was produced by renowned Spanish producer, Carlos Jean. Did you enjoy working with him and how come you guys teamed up for this album?
We had met previously working on a wedding, and he liked the sound of my band, and I respected his approach towards music. From day one it became easy to find common grounds, though there was always the issue of adapting to each other’s style. Many a restaurant banal discussion helped to ease the process.

‘Back on Track’ includes collaborations with Bebe and Argentinian rap bad, Femina. What was it like working with them and how did these collaborations come about?
Bebe is an established act in Spain. She’s the definition of artist. Lives and breathes like one. She was coming in and out of the studio, and hearing the tracks from time to time, when she said she would do it, we were like: “Its all yours!” Femina was an awesome discovery in Buenos Aires on my travels! They have a natural gift for blending styles with so much musicality. Their intuition and spontaneity on the day was unique.

Is there anyone you’d particularly like to collaborate with in the future?
I’m loving the sound of Paolo Nutini’s latest album. That would be pretty cool. Also Ethan Johns production on albums such as Ray Lamontagne’s would be amazing too.

Your first single from the album is called ‘Dreaming Away.’ Describe this track to us. 
It was a bit of a statement, introducing synths, different elements, and an upbeat euphoric feel to it. It worked as a synch on a dutch insurance company advert already, so cant complain!

You wrote all the songs on the album. How do you start the writing process? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I wrote most songs on my travels in south america as well as in Madrid. I often find that when you’re in transition mode from one place to the next, or involved in uncertain surroundings, that fragility helps for inspiration to flourish. I write loads in airports.

How do you think this album is different from your previous album, ‘High Ceilings and Collar Bones?’
This has been a different process. Almost the opposite of band comes in to studio and records. Songs were built from scratch, layering, and innovating with moods and feels.

You have supported some amazing artists such as, Amy Winehouse, The Noisettes, Gavin Degraw, Ben Howard and Michael Kiwanuka. Who were you most excited to work with?I really rate Michael Kiwanuka as a voice and the simplicity and beauty of his songs. Ben Howard was chilled and such a humble guy, Amy’s band was a master-class in professionalism, grace and introduction to the “big time”.

You previously attended the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts where you received a song writing award from none other than Sir Paul McCartney! What was that like for you and did you enjoy your experience there?
Surreal! I tried embracing every experience there. Recording at George Martin studios,  playing and learning from musicians from all over the place, gigging the local Liverpool scene. The best experience possible was to act as a normal band would, putting in the hours. Receiving the prize from Sir Paul was pretty mental.

You have experienced some great success in your career so far, including being branded, ‘One to watch’ by BBC London News, but what has been your personal highlight?
Maybe hearing “Breakfast In Spitalfields” for first time on Radio 2. All them childhood dreams of hearing yourself on national radio, as well as seeing the culmination of years of work, coming into fruition, with such a great team around me.

The track remained on BBC Radio 2’s playlist for five weeks and was the second most broadcast behind Adele! Did you expect the track to be so successful?
Of course not! I guess it was the easy-listening feel to it, as well as the basic connection on a simple level with everyone with a nice breakfast fry up. Who hasn’t felt the need for one with a hangover?

You also received an invitation from Jools Holland asking you to play on this BBC show! Is this something you’d like to do in the future?
Of course! He saw us at eurosonic festival in Holland 2013. At the border breaker awards which he was presenting, after checking our performance he shouted “Come see me after show, that was f…brilliant”. That was nice.

We’re a student magazine, so we were wondering… do you have some tips for any aspiring musicians?
Persevere, believe, don’t doubt, do it, and then see what happens. Credibility starts with oneself, once that is achieved crowds tend to believe it too.

Don’t forget to check out Juan’s performance of his song, ‘Train To Mexico’, which he recorded exclusively for our YouTube Channel, SPGtv!

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