Alice Gee | 29/12/2023
Junodream are making their intentions clear. Here to stay the band are dedicated to the cause, self producing all their music in a london renovated shed. Longevity is the idea, sustainability and a long term career the goal. They may have a moments experience with imposter syndrome, but they are determined not to let it deter them. It's a brotherhood at the end of the day. Ed joins me to tell all, with their debut album being more than a standalone piece of work, and their yearning to create a connection with fans.
E: All of us actually in the band, none of us have brothers so we are literally like each other's brothers. That’s the sort of relationship we have. I wouldn't say we're colleagues and we're not so much just best mates.It's just that sort of deeper relationship.
A: It must be nice to have one another to rely on and have those all important conversations with. I read something the other about how siblings often are one of the only people who go through the same collective experiences as you in your life and it really clicked for me, I’m super close with my brother but it felt like an important revelation for me. When on tour, as fun and exciting as it is it must be nice to have the bond with the boys when you need to confide in them or even for support, there’s only so many meals you can eat from Welcome breaks before you start to lose your mind!
E: I was just talking about that. It's just so hard to stay healthy. But I agree with you. With the band sometimes when you see your friends you're there to celebrate something and having fun, but with the band, you go through the rough and smooth together. We've got a real gallows sense of humour amongst our band because we've known each other since we were 14. Juno Dream is the newest iteration of the band. But it's not always been smooth sailing. You're not entitled to anything, anyone can pick up a guitar and have some form of capacity to like be a musician. So it’s like you’re fighting against a bunch of invisible other people doing the same thing. There's no reason that you shouldn't be successful but at the same time there’s no reason you should. So it's like a real struggle. But that makes that kind of maternal bond a bit stronger.
A: You’re going through not only collective situations, but I guess really extreme versions of day to day life, emotions wise from really big moments together, lot’s of excitement, adrenaline or cortisol from being on stage, so to not only fall back on and rely on emotionally on each other, I bet you also keep each other grounded.
E: We keep ourselves quite aggressively grounded. We are pretty self-deprecating. Probably a bit too much. We're not like typical showman. We're not super cocky. I mean I like that in certain bands where you've got the kind of quite punchy stage presence. Whereas we're, I think a little bit more introspective. And that's how it also plays out in the music as well. We definitely try to keep ourselves grounded, maybe a bit too much. I think next year we're going to try and have a little more self-belief
A: You should have a little more self-belief because you're clearly doing well. But I must admit it's really wholesome and nice to hear it’s not gone to your heads, I mean refer to Maisie Peters’ ‘Not Another Rock Star’.
E: We want this to be a career. We were a pop band. We took the view back then that we wanted to be really famous. And that was the view of why we were doing it. Now we're older, our dream is to be able to be in a band sustainably as a job. We take a much longer view, we're not thinking about this album being a standalone album, even though we think it's a great album and we think it should do well, (maybe we're just completely delusional, Ed laughs). But when we're thinking about how we are writing several albums. We're thinking about that song that should go in album three. We're thinking a lot more long-term. So I think we can afford to be a bit more chill.
A: I like the longevity idea. I think if you're serious about something, you have to start thinking about that.
E: I think it's just ongoing imposter syndrome. We got signed in in March. The deal is well structured for the artist, but they don't really stick their beak in or get involved in trying to takeover creative control. They basically just given us a budget to carry on doing what we're doing, which is crucial to our DNA as a band. Especially as do everything ourselves.
A: You produce everything if I’m right in saying so?
E: Yeah! We encode the album. We work from this house in Clapham Junction from this old shed. They've gutted it and given it a paint job. It’s where we record all of our demos. We call it shabby road.
A: I love that.
E: Our idea when we were doing this album was to make it all in demo form, in really high quality, and get it mixed and mastered. I think with the amount of music there is out every day, it's hard to pitch a piece of music. So we took a big risk, because it cost us X amount of money of our own money. You know we don't really have a lot for this. It's not a perpetual black hole,
A: AWAL have an amazing roster of artists.
E: It couldn't have been a better setup. I think it fits in with our character as a band.
A: It's amazing. I love that you guys have had all of the creative input into making it a cohesive sound. What was it that inspired you to creatively design it the way you did?
E: I think we sonically have gone through a bit of a journey. The first music we put out was very traditional, or what we call traditional in their theme. Then we went on a bit of a curve around with some releases that we don’t have on Spotify anymore, which took us into more of an Americana kind of vibe. We’ve kind of gone on this big loop. Then we had COVID happen and then we kind of came back to a more traditional Juno Dream again with this album, which feels like the home and is the right place for us.
But you have to go on the journey to realise that the starting point was actually where we wanted to be in the first place and give those tracks that kind of space to breathe. In terms of the DIY stuff, you know, it'd be amazing if we had the choice of full whack studios. In order to survive as a band, you kind of needed at the time to pick up the tools and get good at making music from your bedroom. So many people have done that now and I think it's amazing because it really opens the door and removes the gatekeepers, everyone can do it. On the other side of it we're perfectionists and kind of control freaky about the music. Even though we don't record the songs in the most crazy high quality spaces, we want to make the demo sound how it's going to sound on a HQ version. So that's another key feature we wanted to take into the production ourselves. Tom and Dougal do most of the production. They’re into that stuff. I'm a bit more on creative side. Simon has got a studio down in South West London. Another shed kitted out, and he just taught us a bunch of like things with a different bunch of different equipment that we don't use that much. He’s helped us incorporate more into the sound like live drum stems with samples. We've done a lot of stuff that we haven't tried before. So it's a bit of a bit of an experiment this album. For us it's all about creative control.
A: I like it’s come full through, sometimes you know what feels right in the beginning.
E: It definitely did. We did the same thing on the design side of the album. We had a very specific idea which we only changed a little bit. Dougal did a design course and now he does all of our aesthetic stuff. He designed album artwork with help from a great photographer called Neelam who lives in Germany. In the end we came back to something that we already had landed on, but it just felt right. So every area of this album, from aesthetic to sonics we’ve represented ourselves. Saying that we love when our fans become part of our creative team over time. We have an eye for what's good, doesn't matter where it's come from. Sometimes we find the best collaborators amongst our fans.
A: I like the idea that your identity of who you are as people are threaded through the album in how you made it, beginning to end. Plus, I’m a woman who loves efficiency.
E: I think what people forget is you probably spend 90% of your time in a band like you’re running a small business. We use Slack a lot. Even if it's probably the lamest least rock and roll thing ever to say.
A: It's not all about being sexy…
E: It's in the sake of efficiency. It speeds things up, because you can labour over things a bit too much. I think with modern music, you can labour over every post, everything that you publish both online and musically. We’re guilty of doing that, sometimes creative vision, can just be a bit overwhelming sometimes. So streamlining is absolutely key for you to maintain your mental health.
A: It’s so easy to get lost in it. I think especially with social media, living in a world currently, which is based around quick consumption. Especially when companies want the next viral moment.
E: We get people saying this to us a lot. When we were growing up it was so easy to manage. And now there's like 20 different platforms. But what you said about endless consumption becomes a part of the album launch. During 2022, we decided we wanted to make a concept album. We initially had this idea of like reviving a character that we have used in music videos and have mentioned in songs called Colin from like the Genome catalogue and make it about him. It’s from the point of view of a conspiracy theorist who was abducted by aliens and no one believes him, but because he already holds such ridiculous views, it folds into his personality so that no one believes anything about him. But going through it, we realised the world already has this ultra-level of satire and don’t need to make a story about it. Instead, you could just kind take a snapshot of where we are now in the world, and that would be equally as bizarre. So fast-paced, you take a step back think what the fuck is going on here. And so the idea of the album is kind of, it's highlighting this sense these days of feeling a bit detached from what's actually going on in in the higher end of the world.
A: I love the satire of the reality we live in in your concept.
E: Our first track is called ‘fever dream’. And literally the voice Mark Zuckerberg on high, like in some sort of dystopia. Just saying commands. The first line is ‘This is a new day, the sun is shining, feel the light and fasten your headsets’.
A: It does feel like that a lot of the time, in fact it’s something I have to concisely make an effort to avoid. I’m a huge fan of old fandom culture where to consume media you had to make an active effort or buy into it which can feel so far away in a world everything is yours to access at the press of a button.
E: To your point, it can be like a one-way street online. We’re telling our story to you, a pool of people we don’t actually know really that well. What we did on Friday, we basically decided we want to do a lot more in real life events because it’s quite easy to exist just on online. So, we had around 30 people to our studio on Friday and we filmed them listening to a new track. To actually meet people and talk to people in real life was important as we realise if that's what we're kind of complaining about in the album, we ought to act on the change we want to see. On the day we release the album we've currently got plans to rent out a pop-up space and we'll be in there all day, with the album playing and have art installation bits where people can read about the album. I think it’s a great way for people yearning for more connection to connect with us.
A: I like the idea of permanence you’re installing, rather than a fleeting moment consumed at the speed of light.
E: And that's kind of the title of the album, there's pools of colour, it's supposed to be a whole album, talking about grey topics. It's supposed to be moments of permanence. To say the world is moving so quickly, all the time and sometimes you can't see the daisies growing through the concrete. There are splashes of colour all around us, but it's easy to get kind of bogged down in all of it. And I think the permanence point that you just mentioned is kind of part of that longing for realness.
Juno Dream’s debut album Pools of Colour releases January 24th, 2024
Words: Alice Gee