“Legendary arbiter of the popular culture” George Wayne unpacks Nashville’s next breakthrough act.

Juna N Joey interviewed by George Wayne

Image: Nathan Pirkle

Juna N Joey interviewed by George Wayne
Image: Nathan Pirkle

Known for his infamous and scandalous monthly celebrity interview column for Vanity Fair which ran for 22 years, New York writer and author of Anyone Who’s Anyone – The Astonishing Celebrity Interviews 1987-2017, George Wayne interviews Nashville’s next breakthrough act, brother-sister singer-songwriter duo Juna N Joey.

Taylor Swift, if you’re listening, it wouldn’t at all be far-fetched to consider Juna N Joey – the meta millennial version of The Carpenters. I’m sure you remember The Carpenters, T. Swift. The melodic superstar brother/sister soft pop duo that ruled the Billboard Adult/Contemporary charts of the ’70s and ’80s. But what makes Juna N Joey even more on point is the fact that way before you hijacked the folk-soft-pop-niche– with your own latest album (Folklore). And then took it to the very, very top of the charts! The only million-selling album of 2020. Well, Juna N Joey been rocking this Folk Pop niche many seasons before you caught on. And it is their distinct and natural gift for music arrangements, and their harmonies and their songwriting have now made them the most talked-about ‘Tween’ act to come out of Nashville since, well, you Miss Swift.

Juna N Joey have already starred on Nickelodeon’s America’s Most Musical Families. And they’ve also already turned down the chance to star on NBC’s America’s Got Talent.

With YouTube views of their music videos already in the mega-millions. The duo based out of Nashville, and their wily manager Diane Delena, know that what they have is incredibly special and that very soon the Billboard charts will be getting used to Juna N Joey. They were about to launch their first foray of live gigs all over Britain to celebrate their first EP before the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the entire world went into lockdown.

Joey’s young Elvis type prepubescent heartthrob looks and his spare, plush guitar notes. And their perfect sibling harmonies are so compelling. Juna with her dark hair and the doleful smoky eye is the ingenue with the honeyed rasp of a seasoned chanteuse. And now that the duo is finally back in Nashville and in the studios to finally complete their debut EP we sought to catch up with Juna N Joey and discuss this crazy year and their plans for future domination.

GEORGE WAYNE: You are kids, creative kids– forging a definite path to acclaim and stardom. But what is it like as a teenager living through a pandemic…? What was 2020 like for Juna N Joey?
JUNA: This year mostly meant that I had to get used to more home-schooling and that afforded the opportunity to write more music.
JOEY: Being by myself is something I don’t normally have time for so I am actually finally feeling like I am having a childhood. But mostly I think 2020 taught both Juna and I to be grateful and be thankful for how lucky we really are. And so one of the best things about 2020 was the song we recorded called “Lucky”. And so now every time I sing it now– I really do think I think how lucky we are. That (so far) we are not sick and so far we have food on the table. And that at the end of the day life comes down to the basics.

GW: At the height of the lockdown what was your favourite guilty pleasure?
JUNA: TikTok 14 hours a day.
JOEY: Fortnite day and night and my new home gym in the garage.

GW: How does the creative collaboration work between both of you? Is it the melody before the arrangement before the lyrics? Talk about the working creative process between both of you.
JUNA: I usually come up with the story behind the song and some of the key lyrics and then Joey will add instruments and the chords.
JOEY: Since we usually co-write in Nashville I mainly come up with the melodies before the lyrics and when it’s just Juna N Joey alone, I work on the melodies and harmonies.

GW: Who is responsible for most of the song-writing? Do you write your own music?
JUNA: Yes, we write our own music or co-write with hit songwriters in Nashville and Los Angeles. We both write but I usually come up with the storyline.
JOEY: We write our own music. And we always wrote together, Juna does the lyrics.

GW: Do you guys ever fight?
JUNA: We do but we mainly get along and work it out whatever our issues. it’s almost always around the music and our creative differences. It’s not really fighting- it’s bickering.
JOEY: Most of the time we get along. Juna and I laugh a lot but she always gets her way and that’s when I get riled up. She can be a bit bossy, but then again we are Italian. {Laughs}
JUNA: But what I actually enjoyed most during the year of lockdown were, the online shows we did that only made us dream even bigger. We’ve kept busy doing interviews and online shows. And even under these circumstances– we’ve been working more not less.
JOEY: I feel optimistic about 2021 and our tour of the UK that has already been delayed for months. I know that once this over we will get our chance to perform on stage again. We were just starting to book big major gigs but now this year is gone. But we are lucky because we have time. We are young.

GW: How would you define your brand of music? What is Juna N Joey all about? What makes you special?
JUNA: We are defiantly Folk Pop. Our sibling harmonies are what makes Juna N Joey so special. And we play multiple instruments and we understand music theory. Our young age is no bother to me. Billie Eilish was the youngest person born in the 2000s to have a #1 Billboard album at seventeen. And I am still only fifteen. And for me, that is the goal to at least equal what Billie Eilish did.
JOEY: I call our music County Pop. And it’s definitely the harmonies that makes us special. The fact that we are real-life brother and sister makes us even more special.

GW: GW has dubbed Juna N Joey “the 21st Century version of The Carpenters who were the bother/sister folk-rock superstars of the ’70s.” So clearly Juna is team Billie (Eilish) So Joey is probably team Dua (Lipa). {Laughs}
JUNA: First of all, we did a cover of The Carpenters ‘Solitaire’ on a recent online gig and everyone loved it! Billie Eilish is so original and so unique and her soft voice is really pretty. Also, she and her brother (Finneas) remind us– of us.
JOEY: Actually, I am also team Billie. Her style of music is cool and unique and her songwriting is great.

GW: Talk about your latest EP and that whole narrative.
JUNA: We’re very excited! It will be our first and we wrote and love all the songs on it. We can’t wait for our fans to hear our new music.
JOEY: It will be a breakthrough because we are definitely taking it to the next level. with all the people we will meet. I really hope we can release it this year. We’ve been back in Nashville and finally back in the studio. For a while, we were thinking of calling the EP “Home Computer”.

GW: Juna you were definitely born an old soul! There is no way a tiny young girl like you should have such a mature and resonant and intriguing vocal range.
JUNA: Well, I started singing at four-years-old so that means my voice is really thirty! {Laughs} When my manager Diane Delena told me our data was the same as her other country music artistes and she was surprised that our core demographic is 18-25 and not younger I was not surprised. A lot of people tell me that when they first meet us, after only hearing us online or radio– that they are surprised that I am still only fifteen.

GW: One of my favourite tracks from Juna N Joey is their anti-bullying record– “Anchor”.
JUNA: Actually, a good friend of Joey’s was bullied and that is what made me write this song. I never thought it would be anything! I wrote “Anchor” when I was 13 and I played it on the piano for our manager when she was just starting with us and she just started crying. I had no idea the meaning or power that it really had. Then we cut it and made the video and people in the industry and fans went crazy for it for some reason it resonates. We have so much more to give with that song. I hope that it is played every year in October anti-bullying month until we stop bullying completely. It has become one of our missions.
JOEY: That track is a journey. It’s more than a song. For me personally, it’s about that one special person that grounds you and lifts you up. And for me personally, that person is Juna. Making the video was a very awesome experience and we had our friends in it so that made it special.

GW: What track would you consider the breakout single that first put you, kids, on the map.
JUNA: “Stay Young” was our first track and really put us on the map. We were added to the radio promo CD called CDX which is sent to all the top DJs.
JOEY: Definitely “Stay Young”. It’s very catchy and I love the melodies— I have never heard a melody like that and the lyrics are also very uplifting. “Anchor” is considered our classic because it was our first original video track where we were played on many big outlets around the country and it is still being played on heavy rotation on the CMT (Country Music Television). It’s been amazing but 2021 is truly going to be our big big breakthrough!

George Wayne

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