I have been a joyful attendee of the California Roots Music Festival, in Monterey, California, for the last seven years. Over the last few, I noticed an energetic and smiling man, dashing across the festival throughout the weekend. My curiosity got the better of me last year, and I decided to meet this dynamic person. His name is Juan Love, and his name suits him well.
Today, I am interviewing Juan, as he sits in his home in La Habra, California. We chat about his life, his passions, and his son. At age 36, Juan’s Life Resume is full. Growing up, he helped his father with his gardening business. Juan credits his father for his dedication, efficiency and work ethic.
Going back and seeing where I can improve, how I can improve, always. I’m not complacent. I’m always seeking a better way, a more efficient way. I tell my son it’s not about fast, it’s about getting it done right.
I’ve been working with my dad since I was a kid. If I got in trouble, you’d know where I’d be. As a child I didn’t know what I was learning, but now I know that the reason I cherish work is because of that. People want to hire Juan, or they want to work around me. If you weren’t doing a good job, or as good as you could, just having a positive mentality and vibe everybody wants to have on the team. Because I don’t drink, and the work is sacred. If you take care of your job, your job will take care of you.Juan Love
As the years continued, Juan wore many hats. He has worked with Tribal Seeds, The Expanders, Ital Vibes, and Arise Roots in management and merch/support positions. He is on the California Roots Crew and is currently the Tour Manager for Iya Terra. Juan played keys with Beyond I Sight as well, rounding out his career. He is also a father, with a 12-year old son at home.
One could be led to believe that Juan Love has his hands full at the moment and couldn’t take on any other projects, but one would be wrong. In 2020, Juan launched his own clothing line, Razafari Apparel. As he is building his brand, he’s teaching his son his father’s trade, just as his father did for Juan, “Teaching him the ropes of running a business. Spreadsheets, Google Docs. All the things that I learned along the way to help me manage all this information that comes to me on a day-to day basis.”
When asked what the inspiration for Razafari Apparel was, Juan recounts a recent road trip.
On a nighttime drive, I don’t know, it just clicked. 1 or 2 in the morning, driving into Chicago a couple of months ago. Hit me. ‘I have to do this right now.’ I texted a painter friend of mine from palm springs and I said “Razafari. What do you think?”
He’s like, “I love it. What is it?”
“It’s nothing yet.” But I explained it to him, what I want, my vision for it. The blending of both my Mexican culture with the Jamaican Reggae culture. Very quickly he came back with designs/images that were exactly the depiction that I had in my head. Since then it’s just flow. So much support from everybody. Good to see everyone supporting each other, not just myself. My son is loving it.Juan Love
Juan dubbed his new brand, Razafari Apparel, as such as an homage to his cultural background, and his love for Reggae music, “’Raza’, our people, the community in Spanish. Rastafari is synonymous with Reggae Music.”
Juan is a highly motivated, and hard worker. I asked him what the source of his motivation is; what keeps him pushing forward.
My son, myself. What’s always motivated me is the want to do a good job. I’m really tough on myself. I am my own motivator. As a result I find I can motivate others. It trickles over. I feel that the fear of not doing a good job is what keeps me doing a good job. Over the past 5, 6 years, no one taught me anything. I’m like, ‘you need someone to do something?’ I don’t know how but I’m willing and able….Observing, learning from the good and the bad. Actually, the bad has taught me more.Juan Love
While on the subject of ‘the bad has taught me more,” we transitioned subjects into Juan’s battle with alcohol, and his continued recovery from the bottle. I asked him how he manages, especially when touring in the Music Industry, where temptation can be a real issue.
I drank incredibly heavy, from as far back as I can remember, probably 10th grade. That whole time, up until 2014, I was just driving my band members crazy, I was a big liability. I wasn’t rude, I was just overwhelming with energy.
The band decided to sit me out of the hugest tour that we had that year, in 2014. I was a week sober at that point. It was tough on me. I was angry that I was going on tour, as we had all put in time together as a band, but I also saw the opportunity to finally to work on the things in my life that were obviously breaking me, more and more.
It took a lot of time, little assistance or help. I didn’t seek it out. I wanted the growth to be my own, I didn’t want to rely upon another person. I had social anxiety. I’d still go to shows. I love this music. I’d be there for 5, 10 minutes there and I’d want to leave. I still kept saying, this is what you want to do. I kept thinking of artists who go on stage and didn’t drink so I knew it was possible. It was a tough first year, but I was motivated to move past it.
I was disgusted by it. I was waking up sick every day. No one knew this, but the last year I was physically sick, malnourished, “the alcohol diet.” I was honestly put off, disgusted with drinking. It was a matter of breaking the habit that I had engraved into my life, my routine.
Two things. First, once I started addressing the pain that was within, so that I could heal it. Second, I was hiking a lot, and replacing that habit with something new. Eventually one absorbed and took over the other. Also, at the same time as I was healing, I was keeping busy, which is how the tour managing and merch started…’You don’t have a merch person available? I’ll do it! You need someone to do the emailing; I’ll do it!’
I haven’t wanted to drink at all since I stopped. I don’t even want to. I was already disgusted a year before I stopped…Everything it did to me physically, emotionally, in my head. It’s not even appealing to me anymore. I don’t know if it was even fun. It was me calming the nerves and self-medicating.Juan Love
Juan Love may have seen darker days, but today he is basking in the sunshine. I follow him on Instagram, and his posts are always inspiring and positive. I asked him about his most-often used hashtag, #allowit.
Do you consider this to be your motto?
Allow it. I’ve hash-tagged it in every one of my posts for 6,7 years. It started as something we picked up in a random British movie, and they only said it twice in the movie. I started posting it a lot and along the way I realized what it was. Allow it, let it be. When you allow things to be you tend to not live a tense live. Because you are accepting and allowing at the same time. People if they see me will call it out, use the hashtag…The Law of Allowing, and the practice of it.
When asked to paint a picture of the world in five years and what it looks like, Juan takes a day-by-day approach with his answer.
The answer’s always the same. I don’t know where I’ll be, what I’ll be doing, but I know I’ll be giving it my all. If you had asked me five years ago, I wouldn’t have known I would have worked with Tribal, Cali Roots, Iya Terra, Expanders. Even a year ago.
I’m really good at striking while the iron’s hot. I seek opportunity. I try to stay ready. A lot of people wish for opportunity. They spend a lot of time wishing and not enough time preparing. If you’re so busy hoping and praying for something, when it comes you won’t be ready, and it’ll slip through your fingers and go on to the next person.Juan Love
Moving on to what I call ‘The Quick Round,’ I ask Juan a few ‘fun’ questions.
- Favorite 2 pieces of clothing?
- A Halloween Dragon Mask & A Mexican-Reggae Jersey
- Top 5 musical artists?
- Self-described ‘Music Junkie’
- Keeps “Everything on shuffle”
- “Music is my life”
- Most-listened to genres?
- Dub reggae, rock steady, Spanish reggae, oldies, Spanish oldies
- Influences for your own music?
- Hawaiian music, Steppas, roots-head. 70s, 80s Jamaican roots. Humandell, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, harmony groups.
- “You never know what I’ll be listening to. Every rainy day it’s classic rock; that’s my go-to.”
- Most popular playlist on Spotify?
- Reggae Christmas Playlist (feel free to follow it/Juan)
- Any shout-outs, people we should support?
Where life is at, I’d say support anyone and everyone you can. If you have it and can spare it, please buy merchandise, support your favorite bands. I know everyone is struggling, it’s not mandatory to help, but if you can, try to help out wherever you can. Support them through your social media, hashtags, shares.Juan Love
In a world so consumed with obtaining answers, demanding action, and a ‘go, go, go’ attitude, it’s refreshing to meet someone like Juan, who stays motivated, works hard, and is willing to go the extra mile, all while retaining a positive attitude and a smile on his face. The next time you are at a music festival, take a look around. That one person running across the grounds could be Juan Love, and you’ll want to get a hug.