Juan Wauters, former frontman of The Beets, released his first solo album, N.A.P. — North American Poetry , this fall. Originally from Uruguay, the singer and guitarist now proudly calls New York City his home.
Wauters hits the Duke Coffeehouse in Durham today with Captured Tracks labelmate Mac DeMarco. He talked to Diversions Editor Allison Hussey about his life as a solo artist so far.
DIVE: What made you want to make music solo?
The Beets weren’t really working out towards the end as a group.
JUAN WAUTERS: I felt as though our collaboration wasn’t getting to a place where I could express myself how I wanted at the time, and I wasn’t getting along with those people as much anymore. Not everybody.
I think it was time to do something new for now. The Beets is just a different way to present the stuff that I like.
That’s it, really. The band wasn’t really playing around 2012 because we weren’t getting along, so I took a break from the band.
At that time, I recorded some stuff on my own, without really thinking about releasing it or breaking away from the band or anything — just to keep busy, mainly.
DIVE: How do you approach writing for yourself as opposed to what you did with the full band?
JW: When I was in The Beets, of course, a lot of the time I would write songs that I thought would work for the band.
So I would write all these songs, but I knew they wouldn’t really work with the sound that we had. So I had that in mind. Now, the cool part is the lyrics, it’s still kind of the same, it’s just looking into different places.
When I write the music, I don’t really think about how it’s going to be recorded or performed. I deal with that when I either record or perform.
I like the idea that the songs are just songs, and when you have to perform them, either for a recording or a live performance, you perform them however you feel is best for you at that moment.
That way the songs always stay fresh and don’t become one specific sound.
DIVE: Do you think having an extra level of independence has made you a better writer or performer?
JW: I think it’s pushing me to a better place, yeah.
When you approach music like this, it’s kind of like you’re walking on a tightrope all the time.
There’s nothing really secure about it, there’s nothing really granted. When I go onstage to play a show, I don’t know if it’s going to be a great show or a bad show. I kind of let go a lot.