ICYMI INTERVIEW // Introducing Juanita Stein
Updated: Jun 19, 2019
Words by Elena Lyons
Juanita Stein on Her Solo Music and November UK tour
“What’s next for Juanita Stein?” Asks ICYMI, at the end of our interview.
“I’ll continue touring the new album. Continue writing new songs. Continue recording.”
The closing lines of our conversation sum up the feeling that rides under all of Juanita’s answers: a commitment to making music.
With America as her first solo album released in 2017, it’s less than a year passed until bringing out her 2nd debut 'Until The Lights Fade' in 2018. We asked if - with such a short time between the two - there was any sense of urgency to her 2nd release?
“..Only that I’m not fuckin' around. I’m not here to indulge in one record forever, I wanna grow and learn, get better at what I do and the only way to do that is to keep trying and pushing and performing.”
Will both albums be played on tour?
“Yes for sure, both albums have been on heavy rotation. They cross over well on the live front.”
There’s no time wasting for Stein, who’s come from over ten years touring and recording with Howling Bells.
“I took a break from that a few years ago and with a handful of demos went and made my first solo record in LA with Gus Seyffert.
I toured that album for about a year, and recently jumped on the studio wagon again and recorded my second album, Until The Lights Fade, in Austin with Stuart Sikes. I’ve been touring both albums since. That brings me to now.”
It’s fitting that both albums were recorded in the US, as Australian-born Juanita shares an open fascination - though “from afar” - with the country. Her accordingly-named first album America says it all.
“Having just driven through Texas, Tennessee and on to NYC, I can honestly say I love the landscape a lot. I find it incredibly inspiring, the sheer magnitude and greatness of the skyline just blows me away.
Maybe it’s having grown up in Oz, who knows. But it appeals to me. And then there’s the whole having grown up watching America from afar aspect, peering into a snow ball and seeing decades of cultural and political revolution take place.
Musically it’s the epicentre of the world for me, or at least it has been. So for all of those reasons I admire from afar.”
After a big career with Howling Bells, we asked Juanita what it was like transitioning to solo.
“Performing wise, there’s a little more freedom in standing in front of your own name as opposed to a band. Especially when there’s a medium sized treasure chest full of history there.
Sometimes it’s nice to just step away and take a breath.”
Are the Bells still together?
“We’re kind of like a parked car, I’d never say no to doing anything else with the Bells, but for now this is the journey I’m on and it feels right.”
Wanting to know a little more about the creative process for JS, we asked about influencers and what it’s like to write.
“I listened to a lot of film music growing up, soundtracks like Betty Blue, composers Gariel Yared and Yann Tiersen were favourites. I got into Nirvana big time. Then I discovered Bjork and Portishead, they were big, big sounds for me.”
“Nine times out of ten I will come up with an idea on guitar, then record it into my iPhone, then record a proper demo version of that at some point. Etching out the parts better, working lyrically, laying down various instruments to flesh it out.”
Until The Lights Fade features ‘Forgiver’, a track co-written and produced by Brandon Flowers. How did that happen?
“Howling Bells toured with The Killers years ago spring Europe, and then again in the US and Australia. So there’s been a connection and history for a while.
I was fortunate enough to continue that with touring my solo stuff and got to work with Brandon on the road. Demo’ing and recording the song on tour, which ultimately ended up being the version on the record.”
Despite such successful musical history behind and ahead of her, Juanita still has reality on the horizon and some dreams for the future.
“I see myself touring and making records for as long as I’m able to. Ideally, I’d like to be able to make a good living out of what I do and have the freedom to explore different ideas.
To fill out beautiful theatres, like the ones I was playing in, supporting Bryan Ferry is ultimately the dream!”
And why not?! ICYMI is sure this will play out above and beyond for Juanita.
Catch her on the 18th November at Sound in Liverpool, tickets here!