Q. Hi Juan, There may be a new fan knowing you by this interview for the first time. Therefore, at first tell it from your simple profile.
Hello. I am very pleased to meet you. My name is Juan and I make music under the name Sofa City Sweetheart. If you like Elliott Smith, The Kinks, Superdrag, Fountains of Wayne, Jon Brion, etc… I think you will enjoy my music.
ーーSofa City Sweetheartは、あなたのソロ・プロジェクトですよね？本名ではなく、この名義で活動してるのは何故？
Q.Sofa City Sweetheart is your solo project. What is the origin of the name“Sofa City Sweetheart”? Why are you working under SCS, not your real name?
“Sofa City Sweetheart” is a quote from the movie “Sixteen Candles”. I’m a big fan of director John Hughes, and always thought this movie was hilarious and underrated. I’m not exactly sure why but this line stood out to me and I thought if it got stuck in my head that it might make a good band name. And there are a few reasons for choosing that instead of using my real name: first of all, I’m naturally shy and don’t like drawing attention to myself.. My music also sounds more like a full band instead of just a “singer-songwriter” type of sound. Also, I think it’s more fun and creative to think of a band name instead of using your real name!
Q.Congratulations on “Super(b) Exitos” release.I’ve been waiting for this day. Frankly speaking, how is the present feeling?
It feels AMAZING to have this record out in the world. It is my best work and I’m very proud to have finished it. I really hope people like it.
It actually comes from the phrase “super exitos”, which means “greatest hits” in Spanish. I grew up listening to a lot of Latin music because of my parents, and many Latin artists had an album called “Super Exitos”, which confused me. I thought it was a rule that every artist HAD to name their album “Super Exitos”, but then I eventually learned that it just meant “greatest hits”. So, I just added a B to “super”, kind of as a mix of my Mexican and American heritage, but also so it would be easy to find online. (It is also my best work to date, but I hope I can top it next time too.)
I actually just released a video about this if anyone is interested:
Q.”Super(b) Exitos”is awesome! When did you elaborate a plan from? When did you write these songs? How many songs did you make?
For a long time I’ve always wanted to make one great record, that plays as a complete work of art from start to finish. I love artists that put out consistently great and complete ALBUMS, vs. one hit song here and there but with boring/unfocused albums, but I wanted to make something that was memorable and enjoyable from start to finish. I also wanted to show my range as a songwriter, instrumentalist, producer, engineer, and mixer, so I wanted this album to have more variety than my previous releases. My main thoughts besides those were to release my best songs (that I hadn’t released yet) that work well together to complete my album vision. I worked very hard and tried my best; hopefully I achieved that goal!
Q. Did the recording proceed smoothly? Were there the points that had a hard time?
There were many setbacks. Since I played and recorded most of the instruments myself, I had to work slowly, doing one thing at a time. Plus, the mixing took a long time because it is a big album with lots of variety, and again, I mixed the songs myself too. It can be hard to work on your own art because you get attached to things and progress can be slow, but I had to do it that way to cut down on costs. It took a long time but I am very proud of the end result and do not regret it one bit.
Yes, most of them, except for drums and strings. I hired players for those, and got a few friends to add a few other small elements (and they came out great!) Oh and my friend Daniel from the band Ozma plays bass on two songs. I am very lucky to know so many talented people!
Q. What is the secret of the making of your songs? Is there anything that you keep in mind for songwriting?
Well, they all have to pass the “campfire” test. That’s where you play the song in its most basic form, like you’re singing and playing guitar around a campfire with your friends. If it sounds good with just the melody & chords: it’s a good song. It should only get better with more production & layers/etc.
こんな質問待ってた！バラエティーにとんだアルバムだから、どれ聴いても楽しいよ。レコードでいうA面の流れは特に良いんだよね。MVも作った”Stop the Thinking” の位置が絶妙じゃない？
Q. What is the highlight of this album which you recommend?
Good question! There’s a lot of variety, so there will be something for every listener I hope. But I think listening to side A on vinyl is a very nice experience. Other than that, maybe my music video for “Stop the Thinking” is a good place to start, people seem to like that song a lot.
Q. Your music is reminiscent of the golden age of Power Pop. For example, The Beatles, Beach Boys, FOW, and many more. Would you tell me the reason why you are fascinated with Power Pop?
I am very flattered to hear that! I love power pop for many reasons, but I think it’s the songwriting. I think these artists are the only ones still trying to reach new heights and break the mold of usual/formulaic songwriting. A lot of the mainstream music I hear today is so very safe and bland, (good) power pop lives outside of that realm, and give us something both extraordinary and timeless. It is amazing to see artists pass the torch of great songwriting that started with all the master songwriters of the 1960s, we need to keep that legacy alive!
Q. If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, What year would you go and who do you want to play with?
Oh man, I’m such a huge music nerd I’m not sure I could choose just one. I would love to travel way back and watch Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Berlioz compose. I would love to watch Joplin write all of his rags. I would love to take stride piano lessons from Fats Waller. I would love to be in the studio with The Beatles. I would love to write songs with Ray Davies. I would love to watch Koji Kondo write the music for Super Mario Bros. and Zelda. There is too much great music in the world!
Q.What tunes are currently on your heavy rotation?
I’ve actually been listening to a lot of Paul McCartney’s solo albums. I just saw him a few weeks ago in Los Angeles and just before that I bought like 6 or 7 of his solo records because I don’t have all of them (there are so many!) His output is… incredible to say the least.
Q. Are there any newer bands/artists that have caught your attention?
I’m pretty bad when it comes to listening to newer bands. But luckily since I’ve been playing live with my band, I’ve been able to play with some other cool bands lately. My friend Timmy Milner makes great music, plus my friends in the bands Fellow Robot and Bundy are doing some very cool things too. Not all necessarily power pop, but they are very good live bands.
Q. The music industry has changed a lot. I think that it is a benefit of the Internet. How do you feel the present music industry to be as a musician? What did it bring you?
It’s a mixed bag. It can be easier to make and release music, but there are so many people making music these days, it’s hard to get seen and heard above the noise. Plus, a lot less people are buying music these days. But I think it IS also easier to reach a lot of people all around the world thanks to the internet. I’ve been luckily able to have some success on Spotify and now lots more people, especially overseas, know who I am know. Which is a really cool (and weird!) feeling.
I have a live band now, so we’ve been playing a lot lately and it’s been a lot of fun. I hope to tour more. Recording wise, my last record took too long to make so hopefully I can release some singles or shorter recordings so I can get them out more quickly. Don’t want to keep people waiting too long!
Q. Would you please provide some message to the fans in Japan?
I love your country and I am very honored to have you listen to my music! I hope to visit Japan again someday soon and perform. If you have any friends that like vinyl/power pop, please tell them about Sofa City Sweetheart!
Also, please find me on Instagram @sofa_city or on Facebook/Twitter @sofacity
Also, I recorded this a few years ago. I don’t speak Japanese, but I tried my best, I hope you enjoy!