"There’s no industry rule book to live by, there are no limitations on how prolific or industrious you can be as an artist" We chat with Juanita Stein
Hey Juanita, how’s your day going so far?
Hiya, so far so good. 10:30am and I’ve downed a couple long blacks, so I’m feeling the buzz.
So, two albums in a year, how come you’re so prolific?
Why not be? There’s no industry rule book to live by, there are no limitations on how prolific or industrious you can be as an artist. There’s a good chance I might feel completely uninspired for years and not want to look at a guitar, so much as record another record. So basically, whilst it’s flowing - I’ll take it!
How do you go about writing songs?
I usually wait for the moment to choose me. I will almost always sit down on my bed with an acoustic and let it happen. 99% of the time it’ll begin with a melody over some loosely strummed chords and then the ambience of the music will kinda predict where it goes lyrically.
What’s the one song you’ve done so far that you’d tell people to listen to?
‘It’s All Wrong’ off my album America, and ‘Cool’ from my latest LP, Until the Lights Fade, feels like a pretty good concoction of all the styles I’m drawn to. Also I love the guitar solos in both.
One of my favourite songs is ‘Cool’, what can you tell us about that track?
Ha! Well, now you know I love the guitar solo in it. Otherwise, it’s a song about finding my equilibrium - being a touring, recording artist ain’t no easy feat. There are phenomenal challenges at every turn. But clearly the emotional desire to continue making solid music outweighs all of that. Basically ‘Cool’ is me reminding myself to stay cool and stay focused.
What was the studio(s) like where you made the record, and how much of an effect does that have on the finished music?
The studio in Austin was cool and low key, it’s set within a kind of industrial estate, it was kind of isolated. So it felt easier to focus on the music. I get easily distracted so it worked for me. Studios/vibes/rooms/people all have a unique effect on the music for sure. I’m a pretty sensitive person, so I need to be feeling good and positive about what/who is around me.
You spent time in Austin, Texas recording too, how was that town?
I love Austin, it actually reminds me of Sydney where I grew up. It’s leafy and green whilst also harbouring a buzzy music/arts scene within its borders. And all the other things which make a city great are there, good food/bars/cool people/open-minded and all that.
Obviously there’s a lot of talk about equality in general at the moment, what’s your experience of being treated differently as a woman in your industry?
I mean, on the whole, I can’t say I’ve had any outstanding experiences I feel the need to air, which I’m grateful for. I am excruciatingly aware however, that not just the music industry, but most industries, desperately need to rethink and reassess their approach to gender equality. Pay gap of course is a major issue, but I do believe that perceptions start with education and/or lack of I should say. I think the way boys and girls see themselves within the culture they’re raised makes a significant difference to how they perform later in life. Basically start with deconstructing massive gender stereotypes at school. Let girls AND boys believe in their own strength throughout those early years, I promise that’ll make a difference later on.
Have you noticed a difference over the last few months as #MeToo and #TimesUp gain publicity?
Like I said, I have not really noticed a massive shift in the way I personally am treated, MOST people treat me with respect, it’s a job, I get it done and that's it. Similarly, I don’t believe I get preferential treatment because I am a woman. I highlight ‘most’, as theres always the odd asshole, but who doesn’t have that? Generally though, there is def an awareness that was previously not there. I notice guys around me being a WHOLE lot more cautious with the words they choose.
You’re on tour right now, where’s your favourite place so far?
As far as the shows I’ve just done in the UK, I really enjoyed the venue/show in Manchester. The Eagle Inn is a bizarre little hole in the wall theatre. There are still windows etched out close to the roof, it’s bordering on surreal. The ambience was spot, the sound guy knew his shit and the crowd super respectful.
And where would you love to go that you’ve not made it to yet?
Like in the world?! Geeze. Mexico. Would love to play there, also Brazil.
If you could recommend one artist to hear this week, who would it be?
Funnily I’m sat in a cafe and listening to an album which is awesome, it’s a band from Sweden called The Magnolia. Honestly, I thought it was a lost Motown artist from the 60s, it’s really good. Otherwise, I’ve been listening to Kevin Morby’s latest album which I adore. Chilly Gonzales I listen to a lot. And I’m still spinning Boy Azoogas record which is awesome.
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
What’s my star sign? In which case I would have replied, I’m a true cancerian.
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
Straight up hardcore black coffee baby.
If you want to find out more about Juanita you can visit her website, follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook, or check out her Instagram.