Juliana Meyer Info
Growing up on the stage, Juliana Meyer has always been performing, whether dancing, acting, singing, or playing one of her instruments. With a classical foundation Juliana first appeared on TV at the tender age of five playing the violin with her Suzuki group. She soon moved to the cello after falling in love with the rich deep tone and at six years old her cello was far bigger than her! Growing up in South Africa in the early 90’s was an exciting time, with momentous political changes and the birth of the rainbow nation. Juliana was given the opportunity to sing a solo at a 20 000 people strong peace rally alongside thousands of school children performing a song written by her school teacher Margi Kopping promoting peace and harmony in the new South Africa. Recording the song for radio, she had her first experience of a professional recording studio at the age of 10, and also performed the song on KTV, the South African children’s channel. She was fortunate to be given the opportunity to receive cello lessons from the world renowned cellist Marion Lewin and was playing with the Johannesburg Witwatersrand Youth Orchestra before she reached her teenage years. At 13 she performed in a string trio for F W de Klerk alongside her brother and the famous South African composer Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolf who, at the request of Nelson Mandela, arranged the new South African Anthem.
A move to England saw the start of a new life for Juliana and the discovery of her father's electric guitar which had been collecting dust in a cupboard in Suffolk for 10 years. A classic Rickenbacker from the 60’s, it was the most fantastic thing she had ever seen! Teaching herself, Juliana began writing songs on the guitar and piano and, after Johannesburg, the safe streets of Colchester were a neverland of freedom for a young teenager. Juliana spent countless hours jamming with friends in attics and backyards. Ten seconds into the first live gig she attended, like a bolt of lightning, it was clear there was only one thing Juliana wanted to do: perform in a band. Together with best friend Magnus Williams, they soon formed Rocking Horse with fellow school mates Fiona Bevan and Andy Fell. Juliana on vocals and electric guitar, their catchy harmony-driven melodic rock received many sparkling reviews. They packed out local venues with wild mosh pits and crowd surfers and soon had a bourgeoning reputation in the area, reaching the final of the Essex band competition in 2000. Upon leaving school they had a flurry of media attention with articles in the Gurdian, Telegraph, Sun and Daily Star and made local headlines in the papers and on TV.
They released their debut album The Siren in 2002 to critical acclaim and played a summer tour including appearances at all the local town festivals, for audiences of up to 10 000. As well as playing gigs in London and other cities further afield, they headlined the Colchester Arts Centre’s “best of local bands” annual gig and returned to the Arts Centre the following year to another packed audience to launch their EP, The Confession. This EP was the result of recording sessions commissioned by Sequis to trial and demonstrate a revolutionary piece of studio and live technology, The Motherload, for promotion of the product. Rocking Horse was also filmed during the sessions by Channel 4 and featured in the programme “Can’t Buy Me Love”, aired in 2002.
Rocker by night, Juliana was still a classical cellist by day and performed a solo on German TV during an orchestral tour to Germany. She has played with several orchestras on tours to Czechoslovakia, Italy and Germany. Whilst a member of the Suffolk Youth Orchestra she performed for the Queen in Bury St Edmund’s Park as part of the Queen’s Jubilee tour round Britain. Whilst principle cellist in the school orchestra, she played at the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank, as part of the National Festival of Music for Youth.
Juliana has always had a strong interest in the technical side of music and theatre production and, as well as her various recording studio experiences, she did a stint in the sound department at the National Theatre. She read Engineering at Oxford University, where she received two research prizes, whilst remaining heavily involved in musical projects. Juliana could be found frequently in venues around the city, performing collections of her songs to attentive audiences, either as a solo act or accompanied by assortments of talented musicians. She also sang with an a capella group, played bass for the house funk band of a local club, filled in for orchestras on her cello and sang in theatre productions.
However her main passion remained songwriting, for which Juliana received the University’s Mapleton Bree Arts Prize in 2003. Disturbing world events, serious family illness, and the pressures of a demanding course led Juliana into a spout of prolific song-writing. “It was my escapism. Events and emotions can build up until they begin to drive me crazy and then I have to write about them to feel sane again or even just to understand what I’m really feeling. I can attain clarity through colours and harmonies and the subconscious thought that flows out of me in the form of a song. I don’t think “right let’s sit down and write a song”, it just spills out onto the page. And then I feel much better.” Juliana has selected 12 of her many songs for release on her debut album, “Holding Up The Sky” which is out in May 2007.
“The title is about the idea that when everything feels like there’s no hope, you look up and realise, “Hey , wait a minute, the sky’s still there – it’s not the end of the world”. And that’s what music means to me; it’s what holds up my sky for me when it feels like all the world is coming crashing down.”
Juliana Meyer has written and arranged all the songs and played most of the instruments on the album (vocals, guitar, cello, piano, mandolin, violin, double bass, glockenspiel, drum programming). She is grateful to have been joined by some wonderfully talented musicians who have added their little pieces of magic to the album. Kev Davidson – drums and gjembe, Asher Dresner – piano, Dan Tierney – piano, Ben Richards – Rhodes keyboard, James Baker – trumpet, Ben Meyer – violin, Ewan Williams – cymbals. The album has been engineered and mixed by Juliana, with additional production from the great Living Graham Bond. It has been mastered by the legendary Tim Turan.