Exclusive Interview: Soul Juice Finds their Flow

Updated: Sep 15

Bouncing back from a short hiatus, Soul Juice supplies another round of tasty tunes with their latest album Perpetual Reflections.

Released on March 13, 2020, Perpetual Reflections is a 12-track odyssey into the nether-regions of your mind.

Full of psychedelic textures and hypnotizing grooves, the project is a step forward for the group, graciously placing them among the current soundscapes coming out of the LA and OC areas. Formed by Vocalist/guitarist Adam Upton while he was still in high school during 2014, Soul Juice started out as recording project inspired by the likes of Tame Impala and Vinyl Williams. About a year later, Adam united with a few friends to play shows all around California which allowed them to quickly gain recognition within the local indie communities.

Based in San Diego at the time, Soul Juice often collaborated with visual artists to create an immersive experience for their live shows. Notable artists like Stranger Liquids added another element of psychedelia to Soul Juice's performances which helped create a culture of its own. Long live analog media.

True DIY pioneers, Upton and his good friend Daniel Gayler from the band Shaman Rock decided to develop a full-fledged festival near Joshua Tree that could act as an oasis for the newfound culture they helped create in Orange County; thus, the Liquid Earth Gathering was born in 2017. To their surprise, the original turnout was more than expected which is why it still stands as a yearly pilgrimage for many people within the psych rock world. Over the years, Daniel has taken full reigns of the festival and rebranded it as Socal Psycheout. Don't fret, this years rendition hasn't been entirely canceled due to the spread of Covid-19. Wake us up when September begins, the fest has been rescheduled to Sep. 18 - 20th.

Soul Juice had big plans for this year. A West Coast tour in support of their new album was all planned out and a reunion at Socal Psycheout was also on the schedule. It's safe to say plans don't always go accordingly, especially when a global pandemic arises. With time, things will become more certain. The silver lining in this case is that Upton now has more time to write new tunes and rehearse a set for their upcoming slew of shows. We're juiced for what's to come.

I had the opportunity to chat with Adam Upton before the release fo Perpetual Reflections.

Here's what he had to say:

Q:  So you started up the band in 2014, how did you all come together that year?

A: Well, really what started it was, I was in high school and heard Tame Impala’s first two albums and was absolutely blown away by it. I listened to all sorts of music growing up, but something about Tame Impala’s music just really blew my mind. I was like, man he’s doing this all by himself, lemme try it. So then, I literally just downloaded GarageBand on my iPhone and recorded one song. I was like, that’s pretty tight sounds cool. From there, I went to audio engineering school for a little bit, dropped out, and got all my studio stuff. From there, I’ve just been recording. I get very bored very easily, so I’ve got grooves going through my head at all times. 

Q: Other than Tame Impala’s first few releases, were you inspired by any different artists/bands? 

I’ve always loved music and so many different kinds of music ever since I was a kid. Around that time, the things that were really blowing my mind were Tame Impala and MGMT’s second record was just sonically something else.  I’m not really sure, there were a bunch, but Pond’s album Beards, Wives, Denim and that whole psychedelic movement in Australia that started in the early 2010’s really blew my mind. 

Q: So how’s your journey been after recording, finding other musicians to play alongside?

A: It’s been a rollercoaster, literally a crazy rollercoaster. So I would say we started playing shows in early 2015 and we’ve played all over the place. From all over San Diego and LA, up to Oregon. We went on our first tour in 2016 and went up to Oregon and Washington and then came back down through San Francisco and Santa Cruz. 

In 2017, we threw our own festival called the Liquid Earth Gathering out in the desert. We booked all these bands that we knew and people that we were friends with and just threw this thing at an amazing property called Garth’s Boulder Garden. It’s like 600 acres of ancient shamanic healing land and we just decided to throw it. Everyone’s always like, how’d you do it and I’m like well we just kind of decided.  I just wanted to do it and hit up a bunch of people and everyone was down. We got insurance for like 200 people. On Saturday, we were counting all of the people and there were like 400. It kind of blew my mind, so I stopped counting. I was like alright, I can’t do this. It was super cool, really an amazing thing.

Not too long after that, we took a break because some family members of mine had passed away and I had to go and help my mom and just be with my family around that time. From there, we kind of dissolved a little bit and fell off by taking a break. On my way back to California, I ran out of money in Colorado, so I decided to stay there for a year. We played one show out there that was pretty tight in this warehouse, but yea finally I just got the calling to come back to California. We recently just solidified a really great lineup. We’re all vibing really well and learning a bunch of songs. Our first show back is on the 20th and from there we already have at least 10 shows booked for 2020 and are working on a full blown West Coast tour. 

Q: It seems like you were able to pull off your festival with a DIY mindset, do you think San Diego has that kind of scene or did you have to go out and create that yourself?

A: San Diego has a pretty cool scene. From what I’ve realized, it’s mainly heavy psych rock bands like if you know Sacri Monti and Monarch and Earthless. Like I love all of those dudes, they’re all amazing people and they all fucking shred, but they don’t have a full on psych rock scene. I started playing shows in 2016 up in Orange County and met a whole bunch of bands up there and in LA that are doing the full on psych rock thing, like very Tame Impala inspired with a lot of phaser pedals. 

I started playing shows at this one venue called the Crystal Gallery and just all over Orange County and LA almost every weekend. From there, is where I met most of the people who were out at the Liquid Earth Gathering. Then I met visual artists like Stranger Liquids who did visuals and Slim Reaper who’s now done visuals for Brian Jonestown Massacre and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. I just kind of hit all of them up. We had a spot and my friend Daniel from Shaman Rock helped me book some bands. We didn’t even really have a stage, it was just like a piece of tarp on the ground and a mixer off to the side with all of the mics going into it and then we had like six speakers surrounding the stage. 

Q: Have visual artists like Stranger Liquid or Slim Reaper, or just visual arts in general been part of Soul Juice’s perfo