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Interview: Brian Rogers and Juliana Lasses of the Lasses Rogers Band
(Published: January 14, 2021)

It has to be asked: How are you doing during this pandemic? How has it affected your musical career?

Brian Rogers (guitar/lap steel) - Thanks for asking. We're holding up pretty well; anxious to get the band back out playing. We're a band that loves playing shows, so it's been tough.

Juliana Lasses (singer/songwriter) - For me, It's a little like time just stopped for us. The whole music industry just slowed down and nobody knows where it's going...

Brian - Or when it's going again.

Juliana - Right. And I love to be able to connect with a live crowd. So this whole idea of being isolated has made me much more introspective. Which, I'm sure will be reflected in the songs I'm writing now.

Brian - If you look for the silver lining, the quarantine has given us more time to concentrate on writing and we think we have some pretty good songs for the follow-up record.

How would you describe the latest Lasses Rogers Band album?

Brian - I like to think of this record as a tribute to all the great music that's come before us in a whole lot of different genres.

Juliana -It's like taking a trip, like traveling to all of these different places. Even though it seems, at times, that there are contrasting places we are going on the record, there's a connection between all of it. The Latin blues ballad and traditional gospel somehow fit.

Brian - Right. We also wanted to mirror as best we could the way artists recorded back in the 70's; a lot of instruments, that whole wall of sound type vibe. We were thrilled with the way it came out, not only from the musicality of it but the production value.

I'm sure you've been asked this before, but for music listeners who aren't familiar with you, what was your initial motivation in creating music?

Brian -Our motivation? Insanity! (Laughs)

Juliana - Yeah. No, I would say, in my country, it's "Amor al Arte". I create music just for the absolute love of music. As an artist, I just have this overwhelming need to express myself through the music. And I love interpreting other people's songs, but creating our own music feels just so personal and little vulnerable too, but, also, feels very honest.

Brian - Music is just this incredible journey. Once you catch the bug, that's it, you're hooked for life. We both love the process; writing, revising, building on each other's ideas. For me, I find a ton of joy being in the studio bringing the music to life.

Juliana - Brian is like a mad scientist in the studio. Suddenly, we need a tuba or more triangle, or crickets...

Brian - The crickets on the opening holler to Devil were great. And we didn't even have to pay them (laughs).

Who are the first artists that moved you the most?

Juliana - I remember when I was around 14 years old, a friend had this pirated CD. No label, no names and I listened and was just floored by the voices, the music. Wow! Nobody knew who it was but, later, I found out it was a compilation of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Sara Vaughn. I couldn't get enough of it.
Later, somebody gave me an Elis & Tom record, Brazilian singers Elis Regina and Antônio Carlos Jobim, and I went crazy for Brazilian music.

Brian - For me, the opening lick on Allman Brothers, Live at the Fillmore, sealed my fate (laughs). Duane Allman's slide guitar, I couldn't get it out of my head. Eric Clapton and Roy Buchanan were also early guitar heroes of mine. Singers like Joe Cocker and Linda Ronstadt just blew me away.

Juliana - Yeah, Linda Ronstadt and Janis Joplin were just at a whole other level.

Has your artistic vision changed since you began? If so, how?

Juliana - Wow, I would say so! I mean, I was heavily focused on jazz at the beginning of my career and then we put together this band and I became immersed in tracing the history and roots of all this music which rose up out of the Mississippi Delta in the United States. A whole world of endless possibilities to explore opened up.

Brian - My vision definitely changed when I met Juli. I first met her when she was singing in a club and, of course, was just blown away by her voice. But, underneath that, you have this walking encyclopedia of music, this kind of genius and thirst for more musical knowledge that just expanded my whole view of what constituted great music. I'll write a piece and play it for her and she'll say "that's great, but what if we did this here?" And I'm like, "Damn, that just took it to a whole new level". Please Say Goodbye was like that. I wrote it as a simple acoustic country love song and Juliana turned it into this powerful rock ballad that was just amazing.

In what genre do you see the group fitting in? It can be more than one.

Brian - Man! We have no idea. We laugh about what genre we fit into and have just decided we're total misfits(laughs). With Juli and I together, our musical tastes run the spectrum from blues, gospel, R&B and country on my side to jazz, latin, rock and classical on her side. We decided early on we were just gonna kind of throw all that in the pot, stir it up and serve. I always revert to "oh, we're a blues band." And then realize we rarely play traditional blues music in our shows.

Juliana - We're a blues, R&B, soul, gospel, latin, rock band. It's a new genre (laughs).

Brian - Might be a whole new thing we've created but we're gonna need to name it something easier than that.

What do you hope people will experience with your music?
Juliana - Joy. Alegria! Happiness. We hope people will see this as another option of where music might be going today with a nod to where it came from.

Brian - We just want people to feel good - or feel something - listening to the music. We definitely tried to fit a whole lot into this record and hope people can connect with it and enjoy it. Somebody came up to us after a show one time and told us that after she listened to us playing the song, Please Say Goodbye, she went outside, called her boyfriend and broke up with him because she was so moved by the song.

Juliana - That's our niche, I guess.

Brian (laughs) - Yeah, our music makes couples break up.

Who else is in the band (names/instruments), and how did all of you meet?

Brian - Man, we are so proud of the people we have playing with the band and who helped us make the record. And, you have to understand, the underground music scene in Bogotá is just filled with major talent. Andres Caicedo is our keyboard player who we met here in Bogotá and he wound up co-producing the album with us. He is an amazing musician and just immediately got what we were trying to do. Brian Jones is a drummer I've played with for years in bands in Los Angeles. One of the greatest drummers I've ever been fortunate enough to play with. We met at an audition for a pretty big band in LA about 15 years ago and from day one, we just had an instant connection and he's the perfect fit for this band.

Juliana - We also had so many great musicians who came into the studio to help out on this project. Pacheco, the percussionist from Eddie Martinez's band, the horn section, the strings...

Brian - Don't forget the Juliettes...

Juliana (laughing) - Brian calls the backup singers the Juliettes because he thinks since Tina Turner had the Ikettes...

Brian (laughing) - It's perfect. And Juli brought in this charango player. I never heard it played, it's this small Andean stringed instrument. Just beautiful. Once I heard it, I wanted it on every song! (Laughing)

Juliana - Yeah, I said, "no, that was special just for Yo Siempre Te Quise Aqui". Also, we were thrilled to be able to have Nicolas MaKenzy from the great Colombian band, Los Makenzy, come in to do the duet on True Love. With all of these great musicians and influences, we just want to invite everyone to share the musical journey with us.

More Information: http://lassesrogersband.com

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