juliana madrid
[Photo by Joe Perri]

Do Revenge soundtrack breakout Juliana Madrid is a singer you need to know

Welcome to AP&R, where we highlight rising artists who will soon become your new favorite.

Like many classic teen movies before it, this year’s Netflix hit Do Revenge starring Maya Hawke and Camila Mendes features an incredible soundtrack. In fact, it’s one of the best of the year — the dark comedy from Jennifer Kaytin Robinson featuring infectious alt pop tracks from superstars like Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, and more. But like any great soundtrack, it also features songs from newcomers that make you want to hit pause, rewind, and listen to the needle drop again. Juliana Madrid‘s song “Pretend,” for instance, is one that stands out and begs to be played on repeat. 

The 21-year-old Dallas-based artist’s work goes beyond Do Revenge, though, and checks all the boxes for an emerging star: stellar songwriter, superb singer, and a great producer in her camp, having worked with Ben Ruttner, or “B-Roc” from The Knocks. She’s drawn comparisons to MUNA, Phoebe Bridgers, and Kacey Musgraves because of the way her songs connect. In addition to being a Strat-wielding guitar ace, her lyrics are extraordinary, like on the song “Madonna” in which she sings, “God is waiting for a way in / throwing rocks up at my window at night,” and “Clover,” which features the verse, “You better place a bet on your high horse.”

Read more: Meet Alana Morshead, the costume designer behind Do Revenge’s most iconic looks

Madrid isn’t fond of flying, but she soon may be jetting to places like London and Copenhagen, thanks to the whirlwind year she’s been having. Her first-ever EP, a self-titled effort that includes “Pretend,” dropped earlier this year in August, just a month before her track caught the attention of even more listeners when Do Revenge hit streaming in September. Right now, she’s at work on her next EP, co-produced by B-Roc and Simon Oscroft (who’s worked with the likes of Portugal. The Man and OneRepublic). In the meantime, the singer caught up with Alternative Press to talk about her recent release, songwriting process, and more. 

How did you meet and start collaborating with B-Roc?

When I was 18, a friend suggested that we see The Knocks play in Dallas. I didn’t know who they were, but the show was really fun. I followed them on Instagram and luckily I had some singing videos on my IG. Ben followed me, and he wrote, “I really like these songs – can you send me more demos?” He liked what I sent and we set up some writing sessions in New York.

How did your song “Pretend” find its way into Do Revenge?

Ben told me, “Hey, just a heads-up. I sent your EP and some demos to my friend [Jennifer Kaytin Robinson], who’s this really great director in LA.” I really wasn’t expecting anything to happen, but then we got the call.

Your songs are resonant of MUNA and Kacey Musgraves, where the music is so great that you often don’t notice the lyrical brilliance until a second or third play. Who are some of your favorite lyricists, both past and present?

Radiohead is incredible, plus all of Kurt’s stuff from Nirvana. I also admire Amy Winehouse and The Beatles.

There’s a lot of religious imagery in your songs and videos, but they’re not really about religion. The images are more symbolic of relationship issues, like not wanting to be someone’s savior. Where do these images spring from?

I wasn’t brought up in a religious home, but I grew up in a very Christian/Catholic area of the country. A lot of my friends went to church, so it was kind of surrounding me growing up. 

There are many eye-catching images in your videos, like the bunny head in “Pretend” and the heart-shaped eye patch in “Madonna.” How did those things wind up in your videos?

I was out with my friends before the “Pretend” shoot and we found this bunny head at an antique mall. Everyone really liked it, so it ended up in the video. On the video for “Madonna,” the theme colors were red, white and black — and the red eye patch gave it a pop party feel. It also gave off sort of a Kill Bill vibe, similar to the eye patch Daryl Hannah wore.

You’re a very accomplished guitarist. What guitar do you usually play?

My personal guitars are a Fender Strat and a Martin DRS2 named Earl, but the one in the “Pretend” video is a Jaguar that someone let me borrow.

How did you come up with that catchy bridge in your song “Peppermint?”

A lot of my songs — especially that one — are inspired by The Cranberries, and they have a lot of really catchy hooks in their songs.

Do you have any favorites among today’s artists?

Phoebe Bridgers is obviously incredible and really inspiring. Australian artist Julia Jacklin has been my favorite for the last five years. I just saw her live for the first time, and it was beyond what I could have imagined.

What was it like opening shows this year for The Knocks and Cannons?

We still have a few weeks to go on the tour. It’s been amazing, really crazy. They’re definitely the biggest shows I’ve played so far.