In a Christmas Eve miracle culmination of a lifelong dream I’m finally looking at a box full of copies of my first solo album. Thank you to those of you who have been listening and streaming, even thankier thanks to those of you who purchased it from Bandcamp or iTunes despite being stream on Spotify (shuffled unless you pay for Premium), Apple Music, YouTube, SoundCloud, and everywhere else that made record stores go away.
CD orders get you high quality downloads and unlimited streaming on BandCamp, which after doing really not very much research seemed like the best way for me to get an all synth jam band album out into the world in a crazy year full of parenting, purchasing a home, getting my COVID vaccine, and trying like hell to work as a physician over the phone where even if nobody talks you can’t auscultate a lung to save a life.
Thanks again to the wife and kids for sharing the house with a keyboard museum. Thanks to Jason McDaniel for a song, some advice, and the mastering. Thanks to Christian Teele for putting together some drums right where this album needed them.
Self promotion is ballsy. One must have swagger to brag, and self promo is all about swagger. Who cares about your music? Who should care? To answer these questions without swagger is to stare into the abyss and then instead of opening Microsoft Word to write your bio (or Pages, if you’re a Mac guy) you play video games instead.
Brian Juan is a Mac guy.
He has had years of people caring, and then not caring, about his music. He spent the 90s in vans with bands, traveling from coast to coast, earning just enough money to quit his day job, hanging out with like minded hopefuls, checking out live music in dark clubs night after night. He has put out albums before but never his own.
Robot Revival is Brian Juan’s first solo release. It spins into the clusterfuck of 2020 with as much fanfare as one man with no agent and no publicist can muster. Recorded at home, it consists of new songs and material originally brought to life at the dawn of the millennium by likely forgotten once-bright Boulder luminaries Chupacabra and Sonar.
When music venues reopen you might catch Dr. Juan on stage with Otis Taylor, who he has recorded and performed with for 20 years. In the meantime he is a family doctor in primary care who is elbows deep in the Coronavirus pandemic.
Rocketing into the tail end of the clusterfuck that is 2020 comes my first solo album, recorded and mixed by me at home in Louisville, Colorado and now streaming everywhere. There are new songs and old ones I originally wrote and performed back in the day with Chupacabra and Sonar. There’s one song written by my good friend Jason McDaniel, who played bass in both of those bands and did an amazing job mastering this thing. Physical media is in the works; I’m a traditionalist so I’m printing CDs which should be ready to double as drink coasters on your coffee table just in time for the holidays:)
Robot Revival was produced during a pandemic while working full time as a family doctor and co-parenting three kids. It was submitted for digital release while I sweat bullets about the election and moved our family into our new home in Longmont, Colorado. The great Christian Teele dropped drums onto “How Do We Stay the Same” prompting a short return to the drawing board after its initial release in April of this year.
Thanks are in order for the support of my family, especially my wife Rebecca, who lives in a house with a keyboard museum in the basement and contributed a hypnotic harmonium performance to track 7.
I sincerely hope you get to listen to this and you like it. I loved making it! There are no videos (yet). My stuff is still in boxes and I still don’t know where most of my pants are. Look for me to not shut up about it when CDs are ready for purchase.
Today Colorado changes from stay at home to safer at hame, but who wants to go anywhere? I love taking up every corner of this house. The new normal of the past two months has meant that the extroverted epicurean who is on a mission to eat every dish and drink every drink has been supplanted by this guy who makes videos. It’s nice to have the time, and this takes a LOT of time. I still know almost nothing about Final Cut but as you can see I’ve really learned how to overuse the “masking” effect.
Our family eats more meals together than ever. All our offices and classrooms are virtual and my telemedicine command center is in the basement next to my studio. I do more dishes, walk more dogs, fold more laundry, and make more music.
This is my first solo original release… ever. Anyone who adds it to an Apple Music or Spotify playlist or drops 99 cents on it at CDBaby or iTunes or tosses a like my way on YouTube or Facebook will have my eternal gratitude. This is not the same music business I left behind to play covers and raise babies in 2003, it’s not even the same one that replaced me with a mechanical bull prompting a pivot to family medicine in 2007.
How Do We Stay the Same was written by yours truly in November 2019 and recorded in our basement in January 2020. I watched YouTube videos to learn how to mix it and then Jason McDaniel at Electric Audio mastered it.
Robot Revival will be out this year. I can’t wait to share it with everybody:)
Brian Philip Repaso Juan, 27 April 2020
For the nerds:
1946 Hammond BV Organ
Wurlitzer Music Laboratory Instructor Console
Roland Jupiter 8
Minimoog Voyager XL
Special thanks to my costars: my daughter Jade, my wife Rebecca, her ex Tony, and their (our) boys Gavin and Finn, and Lulu the MultiDog. Socially distanced from the world but not, thankfully, from the household.
I wrote this song so many bands ago. Some details stick out: Chupacabra had had a good run but were on the verge of breaking up and reforming (with fewer members) as Sonar. All the guys who put this song together with me were from the south so everything they did was bluesy and dirty and they all made fun of me for walking New Jersey fast. And I was desperate to write funky party rockers but I hadn’t kissed a girl in three years and anytime I talked to one it was like:
Girl at show: “Oh I hear you musicians have so many groupies!”
Me: “PLEASE LOVE ME”
Girl: “Gotta go, bye!”
We played the song in Chupacabra, then we played it and recorded it in Sonar, then I got tired of making $150/week and decided to try being a father instead… and a doctor… then I finished med school and I finished residency and I started being a musician again and I found myself playing in all these great bands but I couldn’t help but wonder if I might ever get back to writing and playing my own stuff… and now here I am, and here it is.
I straight up copied Anthony Farrell’s mini-keyboard rig and thought it would be fun to see if I could demo the Yamaha Refaces by doing this song (those mini keys basically turn your hands into oven mitts, but they sound good and you can fit the entire rig into a carry on WITH YOUR CLOTHES).
Incidentally, it hurts to breathe, I bruised a rib falling off my kid’s hoverboard 3 days ago (MELT THEM ALL DOWN) but the silver lining was a couple of days to rest and recuperate and finally, here it is, a video of an old but original song, warts and all (mistakes were made and buttons were pressed and couldn’t be unpressed), with more to come.
Tomorrow (July 11 2019) I’ll be taking a deep breath and playing my first ever solo set of all-original music at Louisville Community Park, opening for ZiMbira AfroFusion (I had to google which letters were capitals) at 6:30 sharp. Why does this terrify me? Because for over 15 years my entire musical career has been in service to the songs of others – granted, there have been some pretty amazing band leaders, and a deep dive into the art of taking requests is a helluva way to hone the ol’ skills, but iI’ve never had the cocky swagger it takes to put your own tunes up in front of a live audience and risk rejection akin to a hundred secret crushes turning me down for prom. So terrified am I that I have not posted anything about it until now, less than 24 hours out. Louisville and Boulder County, I would love to see you there. To warm you up here’s me performing a song my friend wrote for a band we were in a million years ago. Yes it’s another cover, but since noone can sing along except for author extraordinaire Jason McDaniel (and possibly Jason Rabineau and Zack Littlefield, and maybe Mikey Thunder and Brian Schwartz) it would never fly at a dueling piano show. Hope to see you at the park!
For the nerds:
Leslie Studio 12 Korg CX3 Yamaha CP 300 Line 6 DL4 Soundelux U195 Logic X
Last week an old friend reposted a call for a keyboard player on facebook to me and said “have you seen this?” In recent months I’ve been scaling back and trying to simplify: as a full time family doctor with a loving family, I’ve learned that I can’t spend a ton of time gallivanting around the country (or even the state) playing music with a bunch of bands and still have time to come up with the next great American solo album and sleep all at the same time. But this was different, it was Sean Kelly, looking for someone to play some Samples shows.
I first saw the Samples at the Garden State Arts Center in the summer of ’93. It was my second H.O.R.D.E. tour – undistilled, pure 90’s granolapalooza. These shows introduced me to Colonel Bruce, Big Head Todd, Widespread Panic, and Phish – having been conceived by Jersey’s own John Popper and headlined by Blues Traveler, heralding the second coming of the now-ubiquitous jam band. In the early nineties, improvisation-heavy rock bands were hardly everywhere; the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead had been pulling a reliable throng of sun-bleached, tie-dyed music lovers around the country with the promise that no two performances of a given song would ever be alike, but this had been a far cry from my experience of live music – dominated in the late eighties by glam bands, new wave, and synth pop. I wanted in!
I knew there had to be a way to combine stretched out arrangements of great songs with synthesizers – and then along came the Samples, and I began devouring their albums, special ordering their eponymous fIrst EP from a CD store in south jersey for a $32.99 and wearing it out with a cigarette dangling from the open window on several six hour commutes to and from the University of Rochester. I studied Al Laughlin’s keyboard playing with more fervor than I brought to any classes I took that year. When they came to the Horizontal Boogie Bar in 1994 I dragged 20 friends down there and went nuts in the front row for the whole set. I shouted all the lyrics and hung around afterwards to get autographs and gush at the band.
After graduation I moved to Boulder with my own group, because this was where the Samples were from, so it seemed like a good place to take a crack at the music business. 1996 was an awesome year to be a musician in Boulder – within weeks my little black book was full of phone numbers organized by the instrument the person played and I was experiencing live music nearly every day. I eventually got to meet all the guys in the band – at bars, at shows (it’s a small town); they’re great people. Sean’s the only remaining original Sample.
Then yada yada yada fatherhood, yada yada yada med school, yada yada yada starting a blog and writing in it 4 times in the first year.
Last night I drove to Denver to play two sets with the Samples at the Breckenridge Brewery after saying “yes please” to a facebook post. They had texted me a list of songs and half of them were on mixtapes I made in the nineties. The drummer’s parents are the same age as my parents and live about a mile away from them in south jersey. The bassist owns the Oriental Theater – and in 1993, the same year I first saw the Samples, my Korean girlfriend told me to stop calling referring to myself as “oriental,” the proper term, she said, was “asian.” Coincidence?
It was surreal playing tunes that I’ve listened to for so long but then realizing that the keyboard player is me. Then going one step further to be realizing that for the most part the band likes what I’m doing and I get to stretch out and do my own thing with it. Then I take a selfie with Sean who tells me “you’re hired!”
So 25 years after that time in Rochester when I got the Samples to sign a bumper sticker, I found myself signing someone’s Samples t-shirt and saying “you know it’s only my first day right?”
So this was a win for the optimism and the internet – social media, apparently, isn’t all about making us hate each other, toppling governments, and the the deregulation of youth. Sometimes it brings a lifelong love of music full circle:)
Forgive the audio quality – it’s the best my phone can do. But the document exists and must not be contained!
Yesterday I got back into the studio, which I use so infrequently these days the dog has decided that that is where she poops whenever it snows. On this sunny Sunday morning the floor was turd free – a good sign! With plans to record keyboard parts for the second Manotaur album in the afternoon, I thought it would be a good idea to make sure everything still worked.
In the process, a strong argument for computers getting the blues emerged. If you want to get technical – you can turn the “swing” knob on the minibrute all the way to the right and slow the tempo of the DAW to 60 BPM and voila, blues pulse, highly reminiscent of lesson one at Otis Taylor’s trance blues festival year after year: nail down that heartbeat and deviate from it at your peril.
Thanks for taking the time to enjoy this video of me noodling around with some keyboards in my basement. With all the medicine and the child rearing and the Netflix and the need for sleep I forget to come down here sometimes. I love this gear and will do my best to continue justifying keeping it around. If you like what you see then why not see more at https://www.brianjuan.com ?
Not harmed in the making of this video:
Minimoog Voyager XL (someday I’ll learn what all the fiddly bits do)
Moogerfooger MF-104M Analog Delay (ditto)
Roland TR-8S (more options and easier to use than the 808 and in my opinion sounds just as good)
Arturia MiniBrute (Swing knob!)
Roland Juno 60 (Bought from Robb’s Music for next to nothing back in 1999. I’ll forever be grateful to Robb Candler for saying to someone “why don’t you call Brian and see if he wants that before we put it on the floor?”)
Wurlitzer Electric Piano (Found in the trash when I was in med school. Teacher model. Speaker was broke, but not broke anymore. Also not at all portable.)
Once, years ago, I asked a pretty girl what she wanted to hear and she requested this song.I didn’t know it, but of course I’d heard it, so I pulled the words up on my phone and I went for it.Sometimes that goes really well and I become a hero for five minutes.This time it was too high and I had no soul.It was awful and I lost that girl’s attention as quickly as I had gained it.
Maybe if I had known the song, we would have hit it off – which would have been a shame, because I might have never met my wife, and we would have never made it to our one year anniversary (8/7/18), and I would have had no one living with me to say “sounds good honey,” and I would never try anything new, and I’d drink too much, and instead of practicing medicine I’d be selling flip flops.
On our honeymoon I went to a Hawaiian mall and bought a pair of Olukais.The salesman told me they were leather, so they really shouldn’t be worn on the beach or by the pool or anywhere that they could get wet.I was like, what, they’re like business flip flops?Pfffft!So I wore them on the beach, and by the pool, and for months I’ve been sloshing them around various Colorado hot springs, and they, like my marriage, are still going strong.
I would like to dedicate this performance and my inaugural attempt at split screen video to my wife, Rebecca Juan.
I will also use the subject of marriage in general to give shout outs and thanks to Karrah Toledo and Ian McDonald, and to Jennifer Horsley and Brady Colvin, two couples who gave me the honor of presiding over their wedding ceremonies this summer.
In Colorado you don’t have to be ordained as a minister to stand at the altar and get people to say “I do” – and I am certainly not one, but the unexpected challenge of coming up with appropriately reverent words to bridge the transition to married life proved to be just the right kind of pressure to make diamond speeches out of English major coal.
This recording features a chopped and refinished 1946 Hammond BV organ customized with smooth action B3 drawbars pumped, as God intended, through a Leslie 147 amplifier (itself shoehorned into a short 145 rotating speaker cabinet).I bought the organ in Colorado Springs in 1999 for $250.00 and was told that Rick Wakeman played it once; there was a “Yes” sticker on the lid – fairly flimsy evidence indeed, but I did appreciate that the instrument came with a story.
Don’t forget to like, subscribe, etc etc and check out my upcoming shows – and thanks as always for listening/watching/reading/clicking or whatever you did today:)
My buddy Tim Fee taught me this song in the summer of 1994. We moved to Block Island after my second year of college and he got me my first gigs for money on the front porch of the National Hotel. When I say “money” I should be honest and admit that I was being paid in mudslides, clam chowder, and half the tips. We did covers – the Dead, the Band, lots of sixties (the eighties of the nineties). This is the Clapton song that stuck.
So I went to the hospital today and visited a loved one. I love being a physician and I love helping my patients – but when its my friends or my family, I think it’s important to fight with every fiber of my being to put the burden of knowledge away and be someone else. Showing up as someone’s son, brother, father, friend, or husband is more important than showing up as their uninvited extra doctor (especially when they’ve already got a ton of really good ones).
Your loved ones supplement the science of medicine with hope. I believe that crossed fingers and held hands get sick people through the hard stuff. So it felt important to put this little faith-song out there.
Stayed up late to do it. Used the Rhodes to keep from making a ton of noise. Kids are sleeping.