Congolese/Argentinian singer, Juanita Euka, releases her single, Alma Seca, with an eruption of emotional hope.
In her debut solo track, Alma Seca, Juanita’s dynamic sound oozes with her love of Afro Cuban music, delivered with a healthy dose of soul and sass. As the charismatic performer that she is, Juanita has been sharing the stage with bands and musicians from around the world, most noticeably as one of the frontwomen for WARA. In each avenue of her work, Juanita finds ways to celebrate a fusion of cultures and sounds, with a sense of responsibility. We asked Juanita to explain the story behind Alma Seca and discuss what music means to her.
Hi Juanita, we’re loving your latest single! How do you feel about the project?
Ah, thank you for supporting my song! I feel proud of the work I’ve achieved. I started the year with a bang performing at a sold-out show alongside Eliane Correa & La Evolucion Orchestra downstairs at the famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Bar. After the show I took a break, went off to Mallorca and then to Paris and whilst there, I was contacted about doing a gig for a TV series. They chose me to perform my song, Alma Seca, and I found out it was for Killing Eve. After filming, I started working on the music video with director Zoe Fayaud but getting it done was difficult because venues started to shut due to the Corona Virus lockdown. Somehow we made it work and now I’ve been signed to Strut Records – all during quarantine!
Wow! Juanita, what wonderful news! So what would you say has shaped your sound as a musician?
My style is a mixture of sounds. It’s African, a bit Latin American and it's a lot of soul! I originate from the Congo, Kinshasa, but spent my childhood growing up in Argentina. Then we moved to London when I was 14 and I’ve stayed here ever since. My music is a celebration of my experiences growing up in Latin America, taking inspiration from the Afro Cuban/Congolese fusion and mixing up these different sounds from home. It’s about creating a work of art as a woman, as an African woman. And being in London, I’m a Black African Woman so it’s all these experiences of being a human and the struggles we go through, rolled into one.
Alma Seca is a song about the process of going through heartbreak in a relationship and the hope that comes with getting up and leaving.
What was the inspiration behind writing this song?
Alma Seca (which translates as Dry Soul) is about a typical scenario of heartbreak. It comes from my own personal experience of dating a guy who was very charming and loving, of getting hooked on him very quickly and then that dissolving very fast. Every human being goes through heartbreak and that heartbreak really fucking hurts (pardon my French!) but within that is a sense of hope.
In the song, I’m picturing a scenario in my head, going back in the past and telling that person how I wish they’d told me this was going to happen, that they were going to throw my heart over the balcony!
Every time I go back to listen to this song, I realise how heartbroken I was. It’s quite deep but there’s hope in saying I’m gone and I’m going to be ok.
Most of my songs are about capturing a feeling.I’ve been writing music for the last few years with different bands and since being very young I had always written poems and melodies. But Alma Seca was one of the first songs I wrote as a solo artist in collaboration with Greg Sanders, who I’ve been developing my solo material with for years.
Every time I listen to this song, I realise how heartbroken I was, but there’s hope in saying 'I’m gone and I’m going to be ok'.
How does your heritage play a role in your songwriting choices?
I grew up singing in French and Spanish and saw women like Celine Dion and Gloria Estefan performing bilingually, doing a bit of everything. And that told me I could do the same, with my African side. I love Congolese music, it’s so beautiful, and I love Afro Cuban music, Celia Cruz is one of my heroes. Every time I listen to Afro Cuban music, I get that hypnotic experience of getting lost in the feeling whilst also letting it go. So I wanted to bring in the essence of these styles and make my own interpretation of the old-time tunes by having a conversation between the two. That’s what I care about and I hope to put this sound on the map.
What do you love most about performing?
There’s something electrifying about the stage; I’m in my element and free. The beauty of it comes from the people you’re performing in front of and connecting with because music can make people feel good, it creates a vibe. It helps us to share in experiences and connect better, love harder. I feel this happens on stage all the time and it makes me a better human being. Every time I finish a gig I go home with a smile on my face, there’s nothing greater than exchanging that energy with others - its satisfying for the soul.
What does the power of music mean to you?
Music is so powerful, it can transform, heal, inspire and it can bring so much joy. There’s spirituality in music and within that, there is so much you can discover about changing the way you feel pain and how, when you look at love, you can become more open, less judgemental. As creative people, we have a responsibility to deliver some truth and some reality. That's what I love about the community of musicians here in London and my peers both in the UK and globally, that we’re making something beautiful. As a singer, creating that music is a phenomenal experience, and I’m privileged to do it, it humbles me.
In your video for Alma Seca we see you present a strong and striking image of passion and pain. How do you find the experience of expressing yourself freely?
Patriarchy, and the society that we’ve been living in for such a long time, has tried to tell women what to do, what to wear, how to speak, or how to feel. They’ve tried to tell us it’s not so acceptable to be “oversensitive”. Now, I’m a very sensitive person and I have loads of different women living inside of me. ‘You’re the crazy one, you’re the rude one, you’re the nice one!’ (erupting with a big laugh). There’s this internal world and we need to accept it. As women, we have to change that script, to change what all these societies build us to be which goes against our nature. When we’re angry, we need time to be alone and scream it out, because people can say things that can have a negative effect. But we have to learn how to get up and be our maximum self because when it comes to the individual, there’s so much strength and good in us all.
We are our own hero, we are our own love, our own solution, all the answers are inside.
I feel like my best, highest self comes out on stage. It’s who I am in the truest sense. When I’m on stage, I'm free. If I feel like throwing my shoes off, I’ll throw them, if I want to shake my hair like crazy, I’ll do it. And that energy that I bring on stage I try to let inspire my everyday life. Because we are our own hero, we are our own love, our own solution, all the answers are inside, everything, and I think once we find ourselves, we can find peace, stability and balance. We’re able to be less judgemental and more feeling, more heart. Everything in my life is about this.
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Images by Zoe Fayaud
Written by Bx Sassy
Video Directed by Zoe Fayaud
Guitar, Bass & Synths / Production by Greg Sanders
Drum kit: Fabio de Oliveira