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Portrait of Juliana Down

Juliana Down

About Juliana Down

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

"A listening to Juliana Down is a musical journey. Full of surprises, sometimes dark and brooding, then suddenly moments of hope and light appear amidst clouds and chaos. Their music, touching on the themes of alienation, rejection, isolation sometimes start with the most basic of musical phrases, but with increasing complexity, one senses that there may be something new, a novelty around the bend in the journey. Sometimes the harmonies may lead us close to Nietzschean abysses, turbulence and flow, distortion and noise. We are provoked from simple comforts, and enticed by the harmonic ride. With affirmative abandon, we are seduced to join the "freaks and wonders" around the communal ritual fire, or forced to contemplate the "empires" of destiny we are building with others. Vocal phrases echo off each other. Diatonic and atonal guitar licks contribute to the fascination and temptations. Sometimes we are taken to a theatre, an opera of the subtleties of self-sacrifice, as in "Let Me Be Your Pain," other moments Terra Firma becomes unclear, as if the whole melodic structure will unravel into a jumble as in the bell harmonics and octave voicings of "Slip Slide Fade." Without warning, we can be presented with a solemn dirge of a minor theme like U2ish "Falls Apart" which recalls the best of REM. Life is a process, a journey, full of twists and turns. The hard biting "Always On My Mind" which features fiery guitar work, reminiscent of Robin Trower with a manic grungy edge encapsulates how the road to hell is paved with intentional indifference, even though we may have the best interest of others, in our hearts. A listening to Juliana Down is such a journey. As complex as life itself, we are given insight into a Manichean balance of light and dark, of hope and failure, joy and pain. And as we grow from experience, from choice, from our lessons, we know that the journey is worth every second of it." -Timothy Ruger

The day we saw Def Leppard unite people through song, we decided we wanted to do the same. That’s where the link ends but we’re still trying. It was Abu Dhabi, almost a decade ago, and we were at our first ever gig. Not being able to afford tickets, we sat on a roof nearby and saw the crowd of thousands, singing to hits like Pour Some Sugar On Me, and waving their lighters to When Love And Hate Collide. Leppard brought them together, and emulating them became our dream. Dia had bumped into the lead singer and guitarist in a lift only an hour earlier. He didn’t think much of their tattoos and long hair, but later, as he watched them play, he couldn’t shake the idea that these were normal people and not imaginary characters.

Fast forward to the present. In the years since we formed as an Abu Dhbai-based four-piece in 2002, we’ve done quite well, but reached nowhere near the heights of Leppard. Dia’s on vocals, Bayan plays the guitar, Sari has the bass while Abdul B. Mohammed bashes the drums. We are inspired by Coldplay, U2, Radiohead and Bloc Party and have been lucky enough to open for big-name, international acts such as Justin Timberlake, Muse and The Darkness. Our big break came in 2004 when we played the inaugural Dubai Desert Rock Festival. The organisers, Centre Stage Management,were impressed by our passionate performance and saw in us a potential that few others did at the time – and most still do not. They took a huge chance and took us under their wings as our personal managers and have supported us and pushed us ever since.

We released our debut album, Cause and Affect, in 2006 and spent the following year touring and supporting it in the UK, Dubai and Bahrain to positive responses. Most recently, we shared a stage with the great Paul Weller at the Dubai Desert Rhythm festival. Bizarrely, we have been identified by Time Out Dubai as one of their Fantastic 40, putting Dubai on the world map among titans like Donald Trump and Pablo Picasso! This recognition was a huge honor although we were left somewhat dumbfounded. As his peers, we are still waiting on a call from Mr Trump.

MTV Arabia have also been very supportive, featuring us in their Moto-Alert series and giving us the opportunity to co-host a one-hour Introducing special that highlighted rock music. Our last single, Good For Nothing, was A-listed by Dubai 92 and Channel 4, and was on heavy rotation for several weeks. In 2008 we took a break from the live scene to write our second album, which will be released in mid 2009. Like everyone, we have grown with time. Since the release of our debut, we have lost members, gained members, lost or are losing loved ones to battles with cancer, got married, gone through nervous breakdowns, been deported, broken up and eventually come back, hopefully stronger.

We try to write personal lyrics that deal with themes of alienation, rejection, desperation and finding a place in the universe. These are themes we’ve dealt with in our own lives. We try to follow legendary bands like The Smiths, Travis and The Stone Roses by marrying our lyrics to driving beats, pounding bass and soaring guitars, and the amalgamation of dark lyrics and uplifting music is intended to help us all cope with the real-life pain we all face in a positive way. Our Facebook fan group and artist pages are growing, as is our MySpace profile. We like to stay in touch with fans through periodic mailings and the energetic shows we put on, providing accessible and emotive music that connects with our fans, and hopefully brings them together.


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Portrait of Juliana Down
Juliana Down