before and details that may or may not have relevance for the day ahead, and in the midst of it all, I hopped into the car and listened to "Cherries."
"Cherries" is an exercise in therapy; the 18-year-old Chicago-native/LA-transplant believes “music is intended to be an emotional journey." Sonically, “Cherries” really cleared the air for me, mentally speaking. The EP starts off with “Nevermind,” which immediately gave me impressions and sensations of a sonic palette that was not what I had anticipated, and I was pleasantly delighted by it. Opening with a subdued guitar riff, Joy appears to be embarking on a bit of joint therapy as she slowly makes her way through the verse. This is only to say that the emotion in her performance really stands out. Her confidence shines again as she declares that she's “not the one.” As we make our way through the song, it feels like she offers up more and more of her vulnerability, which for me is summed up with the following line: “but I wish I was.” It is so hard to allow yourself to be vulnerable, especially for a young artist. However, being vulnerable is a key to forging real connections with people. Joy’s music is pretty focused and mature stuff. There's something about the choice of snare drum that really gets me going with this song it's a digitized sound that seems to have the tail end cut off of it and it smacks you in the face as the song progresses, much in the way moods like these tend to smack our hearts and minds.
read, and sophomoric. A big part of that tendency is probably because singing about love is one of the oldest lyrical topics in existence. However, Joy manages to jump over the trap, avoiding the pitfalls that consume so many singer-songwriters by remaining vulnerable, confident, and witty. “Carbon Copies” shows Joy flexing her artistic skills and mature perspective. More importantly, it displays a contagious confidence. She crones, "you think you're too good for me…” but ends with “I'm too good for you," really nailing the hook. The sonic atmosphere of this track takes a thicker, darker turn than the previous two.
This EP kind of culminates with “Cherry Bomb,” and some of you out there might say, “of course, obviously,” but I wasn't sure at first. Joy pushes the pop to another level with strong instrumentation and, frankly, another song of gorgeous vocals that really puts me in an ethereal and dreamy mental headspace that allows me to shed stress. I say that it “kind of” culminates the EP, considering the energy and dynamics of the track. The final song, “Posiedon” is also a strong pop-offering, but I felt myself a little emotionally winded after “Cherry Bomb.” I had to listen to it twice in a row, because I wasn’t really ready. My favorite line is "one heart broken, one heart to go." Posiedon is simultaneously majestic and powerful. It is aptly named and a fitting end to the journey. Joy leverages her voice with uncanny control and efficiency. I feel able to identify some of her influences I’m familiar with, such as Lorde and St. Vincent. Her music excites me because she is clearly making a conscious effort to blend and make something authentic. Her delivery feels sincere.
The former GRAMMY Camp attendee has successfully achieved her goal of allowing the listener to “get inside her songs and recognize moments in their own lives.” I couldn’t have said it better myself, but will try. For me, this type of songwriting is of the highest level. It takes effort and, more importantly, a real “touch” or “sense” for what we’ll call “word-play” when it comes to lyrics. New listeners of Julianna Joy will cherish experiencing “Cherries.” This is music to leave your lover to. This is perfect music for when you have a long drive ahead. “Cherries” is ripe to accompany heavy moments and can lead the listener to catharsis. It has a home in every hopeless romantic’s Spotify library. The self-proclaimed “author with musical abilities” has already become a seasoned songwriter. “Cherries” creeps down into the psyche of each listener.
Their debut EP, What Is Living Above the Light, is a waking dream, pulling the listener into an ethereal soundscape. "Nebulou" makes an appearance on the 6-track EP, followed by what has become another favorite track, "Now and Ever." The track is a continuation of the otherworldly vibe, deeply drenched with delay, but adds the driving support of a kick drum to move the song forward. Hannah's vocals are syrup poured over the track: thick, sweet, and rich. She sounds both fresh and familiar, fabricating a nostalgia that you can't quite place.
Who are your biggest influences; who inspires you?
I’m very inspired by the female R&B electro-soul genre. Artists such as Kehlani, Ariana Grande, Kiana Lede, Lolo Zouai, Ella Mai etc. I think these artists have the perfect combination of deep lyrics, strong vocals and badass attitudes. I try to mix this with my more introverted, dark and weird beats, where I talk about how sad I am, haha. When I wanna have more fun with music, the old school late 90’s/early 00’s girl bands give me my strength and inspire me to make girl power anthems that are not just “for me.”
Why did you start making music?
It’s the cliche - you guessed it: I’ve always made music. I started the Fjer alias in New York when I lived there for 5 years. This is where I came up with the name, released my first EP, found the people to work with and really started to believe in myself. It was so inspiring being around people on the constant grind. I felt accepted in a different way and started sharing my music on a bigger scale. I really owe it all to New York, for beating me down and building me back up. That city is nuts.
Your LP "You Again" was released at the end of 2018, what influenced the sound and songwriting for the tracks?
One of the first songs I made for the album was the song "You Again." I wrote it because I always had this voice in my head telling me I wasn’t good enough. Then I really loved that theme and started writing more songs about different insecurities in life, love, my career etc. All of a sudden I had like 5-6 songs about this in different shapes and forms. Besides my own production work changing a lot I also had a revelation when I started working with producers Lennart Rasmussen (Kill J, etc) and Peter Anthony Red (Lucy Camp, owner of the label Quintic, etc). They helped me morph my sound into something a little more polished and approachable. I collected songs for the album over three years and all of a sudden it just felt like it was ready to share.
You've also released a new music video for the single, "Roll Call." How was that conceptualized and completed?
"Roll Call" was always such a fun song to me, so I really wanted to make a music video that reflected the vibe I had when I made it (with Peter Anthony Red). I was very inspired by the style of music videos and concepts from the late 90’s/early 00’s - artists like Destiny’s Child, TLC, Britney Spears, Missy Elliot, etc. That Hype Williams-era of golden videos. Then I started tracking down different items from that time online and in second hand stores. It was honestly the prep for the vid that took the longest. Try to track down an inflatable couch and UFO pants in 2018, haha. I got my girls, Alida Tull and Emilia James, to come over and be by my side - to really get the girl power vibe out. We had so much fun shooting it and I think it comes across in the video.
What's your songwriting process?
Very different from what kinda mood I’m in. Currently I do a lot of quick beats and instrumentals, 30 minute or 1 hour challenges for my self. Just to get something out of my head. I also write notes on my phone constantly when I get ideas for lyrics. I hum melodies and record them on my voice memo app. And most of the time it just all comes together when I sit down and try to collect some of the ideas. I also love collabing with other producers - the songs always come out completely different than if I made the beat. That mix of processes is so important to not just repeat yourself all the time.
Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music?
Nope, not really. I write very personal lyrics, they’re almost always about something I’ve experienced. If they’re more abstract it’s usually cause they’re about a fantasy, dream or about something I picture someone else thinking.
What are your future plans for your music?
I’m releasing singles and videos from the album this year and then I might drop a new song or two in the fall. Just creating right now and trying not to get too tied up in projects. I wan’t this time to be free and open, and if I wanna drop something - I’ll do that.
Tell us something quirky about yourself.
I have a cat name Buffy (like the Vampire Slayer) and I make a mean dolphin sound. Lol… that’s really lame.
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Photos by Peter Anthony Red
"Not Your Type" is one of Bailie's most recent tracks, currently released on Soundcloud, but I'm hoping for a wider release on other platforms. The song begins with an atmospheric synth and Bailie's vocals, which remind me slightly of Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast, though Bailie's lyrical content isn't quite as dark. The track eventually adds layers of glittering arpeggiated synth, drums, and additional electronic sounds. Even though the composition is built with electronic elements, the fabricated ambiance manages to have an acoustic feel about it. "Not Your Type" is a breakup song meant for passing ships in the night - sometimes people just don't line up - the track is sad, but hopeful.
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"Atomic Love" showcases Djan's skillful combination of acoustic and electronic sounds. It's a fun, sprightly song with a pop melody. The track begins with a couple measures of nothing but strummed guitar, then the rest of the musical elements join in. Djan's vocals are lovely and fairy-like. Her playful way of singing combined with the acoustic sounds of the song remind me a bit of Sixpence None The Richer. However, the electronic and spacey sounds that ebb and flow through the track add to Djan's unique sound. "Atomic Love" is a song for the lovers who find themselves unable to think straight. We all need a little "Atomic Love" in our lives - it's satisfying, overwhelming, and might just blow up!
Beginning with a carousel of a capella leading into the exposition, Leonora takes advantage of her beautiful voice before quirky, yet grooving, rhythm section tracks surround her. The chorus takes off on a rocket. And maybe that's not the best way to describe it; to say rocket gives an aggressive impression that is misplaced. The chorus is more like a magic carpet. Incomprehensibly smooth, purposeful, and focused. Leonora's vocal, her writing, is thought-provoking. Insightful lyrics always get me fired up!
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Speaking of Cholly's voice, it is gorgeous. One of the most fun things about this song from a musicianship and arrangement standpoint is the number of turns the composition takes. This song would be a lot of fun to spin or remix. I love Cholly's sense of groove and timing, how the artist weaves her way through the arrangement of the piece, pushing and pulling different emotions, flashing different stress. The full experience of this song, from finding it in my inbox until now, is why I enjoy doing this work.
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"23/IOU" is Turner's latest track, packing together two emotionally vulnerable dark pop tunes. Her signature husky vocals sound as if they should belong in a rock or jazz project, but are sonically refreshing over electronic music. Hanging over angsty synth and energetic arpeggios, her vocals are kissed by autotune here and there, giving them an electronic edge for emphasis. I'm particularly in love with the second half of the track, "IOU," finding it playing on repeat in my head as I try to fall asleep at night. I'm totally engaged and look forward to the forthcoming music video.
No, everyone can't like everything - maybe we can appreciate everything through some high degree of maturity, but we can't like it all... or even understand it all. I sure can't understand it all, meaning the cesspool of artists poorly regurgitating music that was only average in the first place. Seriously, too many artists believe a little bit of talent, the right geographic location, and a sprinkle of money means anything in the scope of art. No matter how you look at it, spray painting a turd gold doesn't work. What I'm trying to get to is this: THANK YOU STATS!
Thank you for giving me what I demand from an artist anytime they put themselves out there: sincerity, vulnerability, energy and, for fuck's sake, a groove worth a damn. The syncopation of the drums combined with the synth arps make my heart swell. The chorus is catchy. I suppose if everyone were able to tap into the energy "Lose it" conjures, making music wouldn't be special now, would it? Before I played this song, I felt I needed a shower to wash the filth off of me from wading through a muck of new music. After listening, I am rejuvenated. Thanks again Stats.
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This track begins with a singer-songwriter quality, opening with a stripped down piano line. However, it takes on an electronic vibe as a subtle layer of dark synth is added as a bed beneath Lisette's soulful vocal entrance. She really delivers an emotive performance, bursting at the seams as the song builds to its climax. The way she belts "never meant, never meant to run this far" makes me think Lisette finds inspiration from Amy Lee. "Run This Far" is a beautiful, dark, heartfelt composition. I could easily see the song being part of a movie score.
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