JONI’S “ORANGE” IS AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT OF CITY LIFE
Tucked away in a small greenhouse deep in the hills of Laurel Canyon lives singer-songwriter Joni. The daughter of a submariner, she spent her childhood traveling around Italy, Japan, and the southeastern shores of Connecticut – finding solace and companionship in her artform.
Joni’s music is a dreamy fusion of 60s Tropicália, indie rock, and rosey pop melodies, conjuring a beautiful tapestry of sounds and textured rhythms. Her latest release “Orange” glows with the warm haze of streetlights; a bleary portrait of the city from steamed windows of speeding traffic and crowded public transport.
“I’ve spent my whole life moving around a lot and New York was the first place that truly felt like home – I thought I’d be there forever,” Joni offers. “So after I moved I got really nostalgic for my old life, my old apartment, and walking around late at night. It got to the point where I’d see a taxi in a movie and get a pang of sadness. I find it can be a little cliche to write songs about New York so I wanted to write about the aura of it and the time in my life I spent there. It’s a song more about a feeling than a place.”
Capturing private moments of the city and conjuring memories of space and place with her intimate descriptions and vivid storytelling, we chatted with Joni to find out more about her upcoming project and the prominent artistic inspirations in her music.
You’ve just released “Orange” from your upcoming EP Orchid Room, why did you decide to lead with this single from the project?
What’s really fun about being an independent artist is that I (kind of) call all the shots, so I just picked the one that felt right as the first single. To me, “Orange” is kind of like the centerpiece for the EP and I thought it was a good one to pull people into my world.
You mention that the one constant in your life was music, why do you find this art form so comforting?
I would move around a lot when I was younger. I was always the new kid plus I had middle child syndrome so I got pretty good at being alone and keeping to myself. Music was always just something I gravitated towards and I would spend hours listening and learning and playing. It kept me in my own world – which is where I prefer to be a lot of the time.
Your music is a mixture of 60s Tropicália to early 2000s indie rock, what is it about these genres in particular that made you want to incorporate their stylings into your own music?
It’s not something I consciously tried to do, but I have a pretty eclectic taste. I really love Brazilian Bossa and I also love alternative/rock music. I’d say the more dreamy and light songs come most natural to me but I would be bored if that’s all I did. It was a challenge to make the more rocky songs on the EP still feel light and feminine so that the music doesn’t overpower my voice. I think putting my vocals through vintage amps really helped me open my sound.
You spent a lot of your childhood traveling around Italy, Japan, and Connecticut. Was this disruptive or did you enjoy discovering new places?
Yeah, I lived in Italy in middle school and Japan in high school so I spent a lot of time feeling like an alien haha. Everyone always joked that I was in the witness protection program. The constant change was definitely disruptive and I really struggle with the concept of home – I never know how to answer when someone asks me where I’m from. But mostly, I feel really lucky for all the places I’ve been and people I’ve met along the way. Being a third culture kid definitely expanded my worldview and I think that helps with my art.
“Orange” captures the feeling of comfort you find in a particular place, New York City being the inspiration behind the track. Could you choose 3 other songs which are also centered around a certain town or city that stand out to you?
I love this question! The first song that comes to mind is “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens. I had a friend from Chicago who used to play this song all the time. I’ve only been once and I ended up hating it, but I still love the song and it reminds me of my old friend. Another band I love that writes a lot about places is Fleet Foxes. There are so many great ones but “Mykonos” off of Sun Giant is a favorite. And third I would say the Gilberto/Getz version of “Girl from Ipanema” is one of the most transportive songs I’ve ever heard.
You mention Cat Power, Feist, and The Strokes as prominent inspirations in your work. What is it about these artists that have influenced your sound?
It’s not like a conscious thing that I understand. I think with “Orange”, the melody and chords made me feel really nostalgic in a Strokes early 2000s kind of way, but it wasn’t intentional. If I could sound more like David Bowie I would probably choose that, but it’s much more automatic and surprising which is what’s so fun about writing music. You never know what you’ll uncover or how your influences will creep in.
What else do you have planned for 2020?
Besides voting for Biden and surviving the pandemic/apocalypse, I will be releasing a lot more music! My next single “Never Going Back” is out October 16th and my EP, Orchid Room will be out in January.
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photos / Bea Fatora
story / LADYGUNN STAFF