By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Her love goes from coast to coast.
With a degree in Jazz Performance and a connection to blues, roots, Americana and rock n’ roll, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Juliana Riccardi has turned heads as of late with the release of her sophomore EP ‘Full Cup,’ which features the self-reflective title track and latest female-empowering single “Hold For Your Woman” and gives listeners a glimpse of who she is, inside and out.
It was recorded live at Dreamland Recording Studio, with an ensemble that included Will Hensley (guitar, pedal steel), Jeremy McDonald (bass), Nick D’Agostino (drums), Todd Caldwell (keys), Wayne Tucker (trumpet) and Runson Willis (harmonica).
Nine-time GRAMMY Award-winner Darrell Thorpe (Beck, Radiohead, Switchfoot) assisted with mixing and helped Riccardi sonically encapsulate the emotions and feelings she had as she moved from New York to LA. She has proudly described the record as “a heightened version of herself.”
The Music Bugle had the chance to speak with her about ‘Full Cup’ and more.
Music Bugle – What was the moment that made you want to become a musician?
Juliana Riccardi – I loved learning lyrics and writing poetry from a very young age. My mother would blast Aretha, Celine, Mariah, Stevie Nicks and other great female voices while cleaning. I’d belt them out and read the lyrics of the CDs and cassettes. It had an impact on me. Through elementary school, I’d write a lot in my journals. Sometime in early high school, I started getting involved in singing and taking music more seriously. I’d collaborate with all sorts of people – lots of hip-hop hooks were written at that time! I began voice lessons with different teachers and started writing around 19. I began pursuing bar and club gigs and knew then I wanted to be a singer-songwriter. I wanted to share my experiences through music, perform and connect and it was a way for me to live independently.
Music Bugle – What was your goal for your song “Full Cup”?
Juliana Riccardi – To create something effortless, natural and uplifting – to sing and to listen to. The songwriting unfolded, each verse at a different time and location and was authentic to my outlook on life, love and myself at the time of writing it. The classic simplicity and power of the blues form is the perfect backdrop for the message about self-love, about embracing all flavors of yourself and your life.
Music Bugle – What are your favorite types of songs to sing?
Juliana Riccardi – Anything with some soul, blues and emotional power – including rock/southern rock. I generally always leaned toward ballads and sultry songs – having been influenced so much by Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald – I love the crooners! It’s been fun and expensive to dig deeper and find more rock/americana layers to my singing and writing after having been such a listener of those genres. On the EP, you’ll hear a bit more of my fiery side.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs were the hardest to write?
Juliana Riccardi – Oooh, I’d say none of them were “hard,” but “Beam By Beam” got the most editing before we went to the studio. Mostly, the lyrics were tightened up to highlight the story and message in a bolder way. The melody also changed a bit in the chorus as well. It really did solidify, beam by beam. It’s still such an interesting tune to me, the way the verses differ from the hook and with all the analogies in the lyrics. It’s a song about self-sabotaging in relationships, about dating in general and feeling jaded, but in the end, wanting to see something stand strong and stable.
Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your EP?
Juliana Riccardi – It was hard work and unforgettable. These songs had been written here in LA, acoustic-only and often played solo live. I wanted to bring in my amazing friends and longtime bandmates from New York to forge together a bigger sound on the record. We went to the legendary Dreamland Recording Studio near Woodstock, New York, a converted church with a playground of vintage gear and instruments and it set an amazing energy to create. Being able to track live and let things happen spontaneously was magical. Getting everything in order after the studio took time as well, sorting, mixing, mastering and including any last-minute additions. It was awesome to have Darrell Thorpe mix the title track and first single, “Full Cup,” as well as “In My Soul” on the EP. He has worked with so many greats. It was all worth it and I can’t wait to get back to Dreamland.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Juliana Riccardi – I usually defer and feel at home with classic rock, jazz, blues and soul, so Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Nicks, Miles Davis and Chet Baker….to name just a few. In terms of more current artists – The Greyhounds – Love them! Would love to open for them one day. Also, Lake Street Dive, The Marcus King Band and Amos Lee.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Juliana Riccardi – I draw from so much influence – there’s something for everyone. You get that hearty, emotional soul side and a softer intimate side mixed with some attitude and boldness. I love having organ, steel pedal and trumpets on this project. It’s changed the live shows too – and there’s no turning back!
Music Bugle – What makes you the most proud about where you come from?
Juliana Riccardi – New Yorkers are gritty and grounded – they are honest and sometimes, to a fault. Even though they have hard edges, they have big ol’ hearts. There is a team mentality, a loyalty and a long legacy of family lineage for native New Yorkers. I’m proud of growing up like that. I retained my quick wit and keen multi-tasking abilities that you learn from growing up in the city. I’m still not quick to open up, I like to assess a little first, but then I’m all love. That’s a New York thing, too. I’m loving life in California and I do feel healthier here, but I’ll always be proud of my roots. Queens!
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Juliana Riccardi – I’ve been sad. I’ve been confused. I’ve felt hopeless. Having the time at home lent to self-reflection and the drive to create more. I used the time wisely to put this project together. It was one positive thing during a sad time.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?
Juliana Riccardi – The beach! My balcony when the sun is hitting in. A long walk with my dog away from traffic and people. Also, a cup of coffee or glass of whiskey – wherever that is!