Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Interview: Juna N' Joey Talk Musical Background, Internet Success and Tourbus Bathrooms

Young, hungry and immensely talented - that's Juna N' Joey, one of country music's most exciting acts.

Aged just 17 and 19 respectively, they may be young but they're a force to be reckoned with. Using YouTube and TikTok to rack up millions of views, the brother and sister duo have worked with Nickelodeon, Dreamworks and America's Got Talent. They've also already toured the UK extensively, opening shows and playing festivals, as well as taking time to visit schools to talk about mental health and introduce kids to the world of country music.

They're busy people but, fortunately, were able to spare some  time to talk to us about their musical background, their music and what goals they want to smash next.

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Hi Juna N' Joey! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. You've just done a bunch of shows over here and are due to do more soon. How has it been for you?

Juna: It’s been really great! We did a school tour throughout the UK, doing a talk on mental health as well as introducing the kids to country music. Some of them were like ‘we never really listened to country before you guys came in and now we love country!’ That’s great that we get to spread that around and also spread a great message as well.

Joey: We also played a bunch of festivals and met some people as well. We had a fun time, travelled a lot and did some writing. We’d love to do it again!

It wasn't your first time over here and, already, you're becoming frequent visitors. What is it about the UK that makes you keep coming back?

Juna: People are so welcoming and friendly and open to the idea of a new style of music that they haven’t heard before. I know country is pretty big over there and it's great that we can push that spread. People are loving it and it makes us excited to come back and share with even more people.

Joey: We’re hoping to get on C2C. That’s one of our goals.

For people who aren't familiar with you (yet!), you're brother and sister. Were you always performing together growing up?

Juna: I started at the age of three or four. I was doing classical music and started on piano and vocals. Later on I picked up the guitar and a little bit of the violin. Classical music was how I got my start, then Joey joined me.

Joey: I started with sports. I played basketball, baseball, football and soccer and then eventually found out I could sing. I went to one of [Juna’s] lessons and they asked if I could sing and I was like ‘no’. It wasn’t one of my main things. Then I sat at the piano, started humming and found out I could. I started playing piano then switched to guitar, picked up a whole bunch of instruments, started writing and here we are.

Juna: We were actually in a classic rock band doing Blondie, Led Zeppelin, all that. Later we were like, ‘we love country’. Whenever we write it comes out as country music, that’s where our hearts are, and we switched over to a duo. We’ve been doing it for seven, eight years now and performing, writing and recording music. We’re really excited for the amazing journey that we have ahead of us.

You're both very musically talented. You sing, you write, you play multiple instruments each. Is it safe to assume you grew up in a very musical household?

Joey: We went to a performing arts school, both of us. We not only started learning instruments but we learned different genres. It was a great school, we learned a lot about music theory and all sorts of stuff.

Juna: We got our, I guess, musical abilities from our grandparents. My dad’s dad is an opera singer and my mom’s dad played in a country band!  Our parents don’t sing at all or play any instruments.It skipped a generation and here we are carrying on the musical legacy in our family *laughs*.

Recently you moved to Nashville, after growing up in Florida. As country artists, was making that move the next logical step for you creatively?

Juna: We’re actually still in Florida part time, we go back and forth. But, yeah, it definitely was a big step for us and an important one as well. Music is everywhere down there, its Music City, and we get to connect with different writers and important people. It was a really great step for us to advance and meet people.

Joey: Our dream in Nashville is to play at the Opry. Living there is a bonus so, hopefully, we’ll be able to play there.

Aspiring artists today have many ways to get their name out there that artists not that long ago didn't. You grew a following using YouTube and TikTok, amassing millions of views on both. What sort of advice would you give to people looking to use such sites as successfully as yourselves?

Juna: Back when we were starting our YouTube channel, we were consistently putting out videos every week or every two weeks, putting out the most popular songs at the time so we could get traction. I think [YouTube] definitely helped with our other platforms, it fuelled those other ones. People would watch us and be like ‘I wonder if they have an Instagram or a TikTok’ and then they could follow us on our other social medias. It definitely was the main one that grew us.

Joey: I remember when we had twenty-five subscribers! Then we were getting a hundred, two hundred subscribers every single day and it kept growing and growing. We’d post songs that were the most popular at the time because people would be searching for them and that was one of the ways we grew a following.

Juna: When TikTok grew popular, they were like ‘you should get on TikTok!’ but we were just so dedicated to YouTube as that was how we got our start. Then we got onto TikTok and started doing that. It’s really popular now and, I feel, the main platform for people so we started posting there, doing different trends but also doing music as well and putting out our own stuff to get our name out there.

Joey: We also make sure to interact with fans and also go live on both platforms. I feel like going live every so often is a great way for people to keep with you.

Do you find it somewhat limiting using that sort of approach when choosing what to cover? You have a pretty extensive catalog of some great covers so it definitely doesn't seem limiting!

Juna: A little bit, yeah. There’s other artists that we listen to that we’d love to cover but it’s not as popular as what the majority of people are listening to right now. I think the way we can maximise getting the most traction from people who listen to country is doing the ones that are most popular. So it definitely limits us a little bit but, y’know, we love all country music so even if we don’t get to cover it we listen to it.

Joey: We’re at the point now where Juna and I are going to start putting out originals. Originals are more important. We’ve done a bunch of covers but don’t want to just release covers.

Juna: When we started our YouTube channel we were super young, you can see it in our videos. I had braces and was super small and young and different--.

Joey: I was scary *laughs*.

Juna: We weren’t professionally writing at the time. We started writing super young but it was an introduction, a way to get us into writing so we could progress. That’s why we started off with the covers. Now that we’ve been writing a lot, especially with some big writers in Nashville, we’ve started to love our songs more and more. We’re really excited to start putting out our own music and hoping that our fans love it.

'More Than A Maybe' is your latest track. Tell me about what inspired that one.

Joey: We walked into the write and the writer had this idea of ‘more than a maybe’. I started playing some chords and he’s like ‘this song could be an uprocking love song’. We had the chords down, we started the verse setting the scene where somebody is hoping that you’d say yes like ‘please go out with me’ *laughs*. The production was very well done, there’s solos in there and a bunch of things that really made the song catchy.

Juna: We wrote this song when we were like twelve and fourteen.It’s one of the first we wrote with co-writers and since then we’ve written so many songs. At the time we’d written it, we just played acoustic. We went into the studio to record it and started laying down the track, and we were like ‘wow, this song is really coming together’. All of our lives we’d mostly played it acoustically, just Joey and I, when we were first starting out. Then we heard the production.

Joey: It really changes the song.

Juna: It changes the song completely when you hear it with the full band, the full production. It made us more excited to put it out.

Joey: We were so blessed to have Taylor Swift’s drummer and Kenny Chesney’s guitar player on our song. It was really cool to meet them in person and hear how they do their thing.

How do you go into your writing sessions? Do you work on some stuff beforehand together and take that in? What's your process?

Juna: Joey and I both have a ‘hook book’, as we like to call it. Just a note page in our phone so whenever we’re out and about and think of a title, a song idea or a melody we write it down or record it in our phones. Then when we go into the write, we’ll be like ‘hey we have this hook book full of ideas’. It’s like whatever we all gravitate towards. If they say a title and we’re like ‘oh that’s great’, I’m thinking this and this and this - the ideas can really flow out when you hear a title. It's whatever we’re feeling in the moment.

Joey: The first five minutes is ‘what are we going to do?’. As soon as we get to the point or the exact idea, we start brainstorming. Once the chords come, it's smooth sailing.

Juna: Most of the time! Sometimes we spend at least twenty minutes just finding one line.

Joey: One line can change a song.

Juna: Sometimes it’ll be super easy, we’ll write a song in an hour and a half. Sometimes, we’ll spend thirty minutes on literally one line and when we finally get it we’re like ‘thank gosh!’.

The track is from your self-titled debut EP, which you've been releasing track by track. What can you tease about what's left to come?

Juna: We have one last song coming out as a part of the whole EP. We have the three out so far - ‘More Than A Maybe’, ‘Something Good To Miss’ and ‘’Til Your Heart Breaks’.

Joey: All those originals are about relationships and we’ve been in none.

Juna: Yeah *laughs*

Joey: I don’t know where these songs come from but its funny.

Juna: We have one last song coming out and it’s called ‘I’m So Over You’. It’s about being completely over that one person, moving on and being ready to focus on yourself and work on who you are. We’re excited for fans to finally hear the last song from this EP.

Just looking at the things you've done already in such a short amount of time, it really seems as if the sky is the limit for you. Looking ahead, what are your goals?

Joey: Being able to play bigger shows, write with bigger artists. I would love to have a tour bus - that’s one of my dreams, to have a tour bus with a bathroom in it so you don’t have to stop every two seconds! [Also] a number one song, that’d be sick.

Juna: That would be lovely.

Joey: Hopefully we can do this as a career, that’d be awesome.

Juna: As Joey said, writing and performing alongside other artists. Even just [performing] in a big arena or on a big stage, to move around and interact with the crowd and feel that energy…that’s something I’m really looking forward to in our career. Just making memories along the way and making our parents proud. 

For more things Juna N' Joey check out their website.

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