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Alan Thomas and Steven Rutherford make up joan, the party boy band from Arkansas. Saturated in the 90s realm, the powerhouse pair just released their highly anticipated single, ‘love me better’, with upbeat visuals on a basketball court to accompany.

Highly infectious, joan’s humble vocals were made to sing along with. Set in a dreamy atmosphere, the duo combines expert modern sensibilities with 90s and R&B influences. Retro synths floating throughout, joan’s music has been jamming in households for the past two years, climbing the charts single by single.  joan’s debut EP portra has been streamed well over 40 million times, and they’ve already sold out markets globally, touring in Asia and with super acts like the Aces, MisterWives, and Jeremy Zucker.

“We wrote “take me on” the first day we were together,” Steven shared with us, “looked at each other, and said ‘Oops, did we just become a band?'”

We couldn’t resist an interview, and caught up with joan to discover more about their journey and sound.

Why did you choose the name Joan? And what were some of the other names you considered before settling on it?

The name “joan” was more of an aesthetic choice more than anything – we knew we wanted it to be a short name and to look nice lowercase. We made this huge list of nonsense words as options and hated every single one of them until we got to joan. There was just something about it that popped off the page to me – there’s a personality that’s there I think when you read it. So that was really the only good option we ever had in my opinion. Alan wasn’t super sold on it right away, but I made some mock ups of designs and logos around the name and he was super on board then.

When you originally started writing songs together, did you seek out a “sound” or particular “genre” or did it just happen accidentally?

Not really, but sort of, I guess. We got together at first to write some songs for film and TV licensing so we could make a living doing music. We were definitely going for music that would fit into a John Hughes film, or music you’d listen to driving in the city at midnight. We wrote “take me on” the first day we were together, looked at each other, and said “oops, did we just become a band?”

“Love somebody like you” sounds like it could be from an 80’s John Hughes film — do you draw any inspiration from films or other visuals?

Whoa, I swear I didn’t read ahead when answering these questions, haha! Yes, we definitely got inspiration especially for “portra” from old films like that. We love John, Howard Deutch, Nora Ephron, etc. We also used to watch a lot of old 90s music videos that we grew up on and put them on mute with our music to it to see if we could get it to match the vibe.

Besides Prince, Don Henley and James Taylor — who else do you think you draw sonic inspiration from?

I don’t know if we really draw sonic inspiration from anyone specifically. We listen to so much stuff and study the music we listen to. We want to know how they got that snare, vocal production, etc. we obsess over that type of stuff. So I don’t really know how to answer that question, but we’re loving sure sure, Kevin Abstract, Aalley, Lauv, Bazzi, and Billie Eilish a lot right now.

If you were to choose three words to describe portra, what would they be?

Best EP ever.

You toured with The Aces over the last year — were there any surreal moments when you were out with them?

Ugh The Aces are amazing and their fans are insane. We loved being on tour with so much – they’re the sweetest people. New York at Bowery Ballroom with them was one of our favorite shows ever.



photos / Connor North Goad

interview / Angie Picarillo

story / Ariana Tibi

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