Juan Ledesma had been sitting on the four pretty songs that make up his debut solo EP, Going Forth, for more than a year and a half. The one-time frontman of Miami favorites Krisp says he needed an end-of-the-world scenario to finally unleash his laidback rock on the world.
"When everything went down with all the panic of the quarantine, I had to ask myself: Why have I not put this out yet? What's the reason?" Ledesma tells New Times. "I talked to [the record label Public Works] and said, 'We need to put this out now because we don't know what's going to happen tomorrow.'"
Going Forth is scheduled for release June 30. But its peppy title track comes out today, May 19, and it's a must-listen for anyone who digs Mutations-era Beck.
Ledesma says all the songs on the EP were inspired by two breakups: one romantic, the other musical.
"I was in my mid-twenties and a long-term relationship ended. My band had ended," Lesdema says. "I still talk to the guys, and we're cool, but we got in a creative rut. I wanted to try different things. All the decisionmaking was now up to me. I had to realize what to do with these songs. Being the only person pushing them through made them more personal."
The EP is a solo endeavor in the truest sense. Beyond writing all the music, singing the songs, and producing the tracks, Ledesma played all the instruments you hear. Except for the percussion; he asked his former Krisp bandmate Jason Mavila to bang on the drums.
Beyond the pair's rhythmic connection, Going Forth is a very different animal from Krisp. It's much more contemplative and chill than the dancey beats that characterized their previous project, which endured from 2010 through 2015.
"I wanted to try different things in production," Ledesma explains. "I had to rebel against my conceived notions of what made a good song. How can I move on with my music? The expectations of doing anything creative can be very overwhelming, so I tried to embrace each song as a milestone."
He describes "Going Forth" as a song about looking inward: "Who was I? What are the parts I wanted to do with and without?"
"What Boys Never Had," which will be released as a single on June 9, is bathed in gloom-drenched reverb.
"The vibe is they're closing the bar, and it's a back and forth between a boy and a girl and the thoughts each are having," Ledesma says.
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"It's hard to talk about your songs," he adds.
He feels more comfortable talking about the impact others' work has had on him, like the moment he knew he wanted to be a musician: It was in Peru, he was eight years old and in the car with his father, who put on the Beatles' "Love Me Do."
"The sound of the harmonica burst me into consciousness," Ledesma recounts. "Even though it was a harmonica, I wanted to play guitar, right then."
Two decades later, on Going Forth, Juan Ledesma is doing precisely that.