Juniore’s 2017 LP “Ouh Là Là” was one of our records of the year. It was unique, a heady mix of the old and the new, a bright, beautiful, stylish and BOLD statement of intent from Anna Jean and the band. Produced by Samy Osta, with striking artwork by Anna Jean herself, it made for a very alluring package.
We were more than delighted then to hear from Outre Disque that they are releasing a 10″ Juniore compilation called “Magnifique” on July 7th in the UK. You can pre-order it here. There’s also a super new video just out for the title track. It’ a brilliant addition to the skateboarding ghost genre (see below).
Juniore have announced tour dates for both the US & Uk (see dates at end of the interview) – they are superb live so not to be missed!
We were delighted when Anna Jean agreed to answer some questions for us.
When did your musical journey begin?
I started music quite late, actually. I mean outside of my living room 🙂 I picked up the guitar when I was about 25 and started to write songs. Soon after, Samy Osta and I had a band. And I suppose we’ve always made music together since!
I love your laid-back vocal style, who are your favourite vocalists?
Merci! I often feel bad for not having a proper singing voice…
I listened to a lot of Nina Simone when I was growing up, I think it made me love the idea of unusual vocals, both masculine and feminine. It really inspired me. A lot of the French singers from the 60’s as well had uncommon voices. They weren’t necessarily singers but knew how to tell stories and I like that a lot.
How did Juniore come together?
I started the band almost five years ago. I gathered all my friends and decided we would be an all-female band. I listened to a lot of female sixties groups and had an adolescent dream of forming one. Eventually, the initial band members had to leave, to move to different countries or get married or have a promotion. And I found new girls that I could play Juniore’s music with.
“Ouh là là” is a tour de force, was it long in the making?
Merci, merci! It took about a year, I would say. We recorded part of the album in an old house in the French countryside and the other half in a studio in Paris. Samy Osta (who records and produces all our music) and I took a lot of time to write the different parts. I wanted it to be obviously inspired by the 60’s whereas Samy felt it needed a modern touch. I think we managed to do a little bit of both! Something new and something familiar. And hopefully, people will feel the same.
It’s such an amalgam of styles and I guess I would call it a very “colourful” sound that sets it apart from much of the music you hear today, what are the major influences do you think?
I really have an endless love for music from 60’s. It started when I was growing up in Albuquerque New Mexico, riding around in the family car listening to the “oldies” radio station. I’ve kept such wonderful memories of those days. As I grew older, I continued to listen to American and English music from that time. It’s only much later that I realized I loved the music that had been made in France too. It was like rediscovering a part of France! And of course, having been a teenager in the 90’s, I naturally have a thing for punk/rock/grunge music. So I think maybe that explains the amalgam of styles!
One time, after a concert in Spain, a hardcore fan of 60’s garage music told me very nicely:”Do you realize you’re mixing music styles that aren’t compatible?” Of course, I agreed 🙂
Are you excited to be playing in England? How is the English scene viewed from France?
We’re very excited, yes! England is like the land of the impossible for French bands. If you’re playing in England, it’s a big deal! We know it’s harder because our lyrics are in French, but we hope we’ll manage to seem familiar to people in England regardless. We feel so inspired by English music, maybe that’s something that will help us connect with a British audience.
What do you think about Britain leaving the EU?
I think it’s terrifying. It seemed so impossible the day before it was voted. You know, people say you remember where you were when you heard about something tragic happening (or if you’re old enough when you heard about Lady Di’s accident) Well, I remember exactly where we were. In the house where we recorded, in the kitchen, having morning coffee. And it just made us all so extremely sad. It suddenly made us realize just how surprisingly crazy the world can be.
Is Samy Osta as cool as I think he is?
Yes! He’s the coolest. But like Gizmo, if you feed him after midnight, it’s another story.
How do you approach songwriting, does it come naturally to you? Do you generally start with the words or music?
I usually write both at the same time – either because words make me think of a melody or because a melody makes me think of words. It doesn’t always come naturally. Sometimes, it feels like an old car. It takes a while to start the engine! But the more I have time to do it, the more natural it feels. It’s what I like doing best so it can be very frustrating not to have time.
What was the first piece of music you loved, and why?
I think the first song I loved so incredibly very much that I actually ended up using my CD to its core, was Nina Simone’s album ‘I put a spell on you’. I remember actually shedding a tear because the CD wouldn’t play anymore.
What is your favourite song that you’ve written?
That’s a tough question 🙂 I like playing Panique live because it’s so full of energy and we have such fun playing it.
What song by another artist do you wish you had written?
So many. I recently started reading articles about Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, who were a couple in the sixties who wrote some of my favorite songs in the universe (like “Love Hurts”, sung by the Everly Brothers) I think I wish I would’ve written all their songs.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you recently?
It’s not the weirdest, but it’s certainly one of the funniest. I live on the top floor of a building and there’s another building facing it. It’s pretty close. I couldn’t shake hands with my neighbours if I tried, but it’s close enough that I can see everything inside of the apartment across. About two years ago, a couple moved in. I smoke at my window and they didn’t like curtains so I would have to be a witness to whatever it was that they were doing, a few times a day/night for a year. After a few months, I saw the girl pack her things and leave. I watched the sad boyfriend moping, watch TV in his underwear. I saw a lot of different things, not because I wanted to, but because they simply didn’t have curtains. At the end of the year, the sad boyfriend seemed better, and one day he waved goodbye, surrounded by boxes and I figured he was finally moving out. A few weeks after he had left, I received a book in the mail, dedicated to “the neighbour who saw it all happen”, saying the book was the story told from the inside.
A new couple moved in, no curtains. I stopped smoking at the window.
We cover a lot of artists from France, have you got any hot tips?
I really like a girl named Theodora. She used to play with Juniore in the very beginning. She’s got incredible grace and something raw that I really enjoy. She’s a wonderful musician as well. And lately has been touring with Julien Barbagallo.
What colour is January?
I think it’s yellow.
What’s the best phrase you’ve picked up in another language?
Tasukete! I think it means help, in Japanese. I find it very relaxing to say out loud for some reason.
What question would you like to be asked that you never are and what would your answer be?
What my epitaph will be? And I’ll have to think about it, actually.
If you were a kangaroo, what would you keep in your pouch?
I would say chocolate, but it’s tricky because it melts. Maybe a nutella sandwich.
Does the path of excess lead to the palace of wisdom?
I’m not sure. I’d like to think some mistakes you don’t have to make to learn, but maybe you do!
Anna Jean kindly donated one of the draft images from the Ouh Là Là LP artwork to add to our gallery. We are blessed indeed!
13th June – New York, Piano’s
19th June – Albuquerque, The Guild Cinema
22nd June – San Diego, Helmuth Projects
23rd June – Tijuana, PATIO DE LA MI-JA, showcase presented by Musica En El Patio (MEEP) and Tijuana Teens
24th June – Los Angeles, The Echo
25th July – London, Sebright Arms
26th July – Bristol, The Crofters Rights
27th July – Brighton, BitchCraft