Exploring the American Dream with Juanita Stein

Putting a pause on Howling Bells, for now, Juanita Stein wanted to see how things panned out for her when approaching music from a solo perspective. So far she admits of the experience, “There’s definitely something very powerful in creating and expressing art as a group, however, right now, making music as a solo artist feels the right path to me, and for that reason, it’s more cathartic. Listening to that inner voice provides a great joy.”

Just yesterday Juanita started a lengthy stay in the UK at the Deer Shed Festival. She’ll be spending a lot of time with family and friends as she plays from Thousand Island in London in August to Crofters in Bristol come October. Those in the UK have to make sure to catch here and there throughout the next few months. Now while you’re either waiting for a show or just want to know more, we have a back and forth with Juanita about her debut solo album, America, and more.

Kendra: The director noted he wanted to capture the “American Dream” with the video for “Someone Else’s Dime.” To you, what is the realization of the so called “American Dream” and was that captured in the clip?

Juanita Stein: We discussed the lyrical content together, the vibe and aesthetics, down to motel room walls and the type of wash we wanted to use, the people we wanted to talk to and so on. All these things helped to interpret the America in my mind.

Wide open spaces, beautiful blue skies, both cactus and palm trees swaying in the dry desert air…all set amongst the highly contrasting gloom of the deserted and dilapidated buildings that made up the scattered ghost towns we drove through. The stories we heard from heart broken locals, the frighteningly optimistic tone of looming advertisements, some religious, some not. I mean, this dichotomy is what America feels like to me. Beautiful and sad.

Kendra: You debut drops at the end of July. Why the title America? A place so far from where you were born, Australia. What’s the symbolism, if any, behind that?

Juanita: The idea of the American Dream is endlessly fascinating to me. Especially growing up in a country like Australia, where overt optimism is not hugely embraced. I feel like this attitude which is so deeply embedded in American culture has had a profound effect on both music and art. But it’s the beauty that comes out of rejecting and questioning that ethos is what I’m hugely attracted to, the contrast, especially when captured so breathtakingly by artists, film directors and musicians like Roy Orbison and The Beach Boys.

Kendra: You have all those dates from now through October, anything else on the plate for 2017 or is there a break for you coming in the fall?

Juanita: I’m giving 2017 my all. Hoping to get back to the US for more shows.

Kendra: We are definitely going to make the ultimate “American Dream” mixtape. With that, if you had to pick five songs for that mix, which five would they be?

Juanita: Love it!
I Only Have Eyes For You” – The Flamingos
The Midnight Cowboy Theme” – John Barry
Warmth of the Sun” – The Beach Boys
My Prayer” – Roy Orbison
Some Velvet Morning” – Lee and Nancy

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