Making marks on the hearts of many with their chilled vibes and truly danceable tracks, this duo is leaving a lasting imprint on their fans as they creep through the many chilled pop and just good music playlists they have been popping up on recently. And although joan has yet to release a full-length album, their EPs have yet to let us down, and watching them go from openers to headliners has been quite the journey.
Always on our minds, we’ve been keeping an eye on these two, and as one of the last in-person live shows we attended this year, saying that joan has a special place in our hearts is an understatement. Giving us a dance-worthy soundtrack to the last few months, with the release of their EP, cloudy, the memory of us dancing around at one of their in-person shows is etched into our bodies. And then they released partly cloudy, with reimagined versions of the original tracks, with vibes so immaculate, we’ve had it on repeat since it’s release earlier this month.
From watching their livestream so we could finally sing along to the new tracks, to deconstructing the arrangements of partly cloudy to truly understand how they relate to each season, we have had so many questions for this duo, and luckily we got to ask them in this exclusive interview!
You were both young when joan was formed and freshly out of college. Can you describe the moment when you decided you wanted to do music as your main career? What was the biggest challenge?
steven: i knew pretty early on in life that i wanted to do music full time, but i was always told to have a “plan b” – so i studied marketing in college. when i was probably in my junior year of college and was actually getting enough gigs to support myself without even graduating yet was when it sort of clicked that i could actually do music full time. i’d say the biggest challenge was that it just didn’t seem like a real job for so long. i sometimes wish that i would have just known i was going to do music so i could focus on it earlier in my life. that’s all what if’s though, and i’m here now, so i’m happy.
alan: i distinctly remember being like 8 or 9 years old and sneaking into our garage to “play” my dads guitar. and then when they handed me my first pair of drumsticks and this little yamaha drum machine, i quickly tossed my baseball glove to the side and fell in love. from then on music has been my singular focus, from school band to getting my bachelors degree in music. i’ve never wanted to do anything else, so i just kinda put my head down and have kept going.
the biggest challenge would be touring! it’s so lovely and necessary, but can also be hard to be away from home for long periods of time.
And you both have been in several bands before joan, what would you say is the process of “becoming a band,” is it a natural thing, or do you need to overcome certain steps to finally call it a band? How did it happen with joan?
great question. a “band” can definitely mean a lot of things, but neither of us had ever been interested in just joining a group to play together every once in a while. we were always career focused, and hoped that whatever band we were in would push us into a full time career in music.
the members of the bands we were in started getting jobs and putting down roots at home that would be hard to just pull up out of nowhere if a month long tour was put in our laps. i (steven) was even prepared to play drums for alan’s band, and we would just make us two on stage work (sound familiar?). so, when we wrote “take me on” the first day we wrote together, it all made sense. we both had the commitment and the drive, and knew we could make it work. it was a pretty easy decision for joan to become our full time thing, because the stars just aligned perfectly.
What would you say are the ingredients of the perfect joan song, or what elements in your music do you think makes it distinctively yours? What bands or artists would you say have influenced your sound the most?
we approach every idea with the same question: does this give us goosebumps? if the answer is yes, we move forward with it. it’s all about feeling. we kinda just know when something is working, so i guess it’s a bit of intuition, and a bit of experience? our goal is to make you dance, to make you smile, to make you reflect – to make you feel.
once it’s passed that test, it’s on to us obsessing over the sounds and melodies and lyrics that help us tell the story in just the right way. that said, we hope that the songs speak for themselves, so that when you hear it, you know that it’s joan!
Your new EP cloudy has a bit of a 90s feel – is there anything about that era for music that really inspires you as artists? What is it that you love about that kind of vibe the 90s music had?
the 90s had such a distinct and eclectic range of sounds. hip hop was really popping off with the signature sound it had, pop was extra clear and clean production wise with a crazy small amount of tracks and so much focus on an up-front vocal, all while grunge and live bands were really blowing up too. music was shaping culture in a really unique and diverse way. while we started writing ‘cloudy,’ we were in the middle of diving pretty deep into 90s culture and music, and it was just super inspiring to us.
You put out a bunch of visuals this EP, how important do you think it is to pair visuals with an album? Which was your favorite to shoot?
visuals have always been extremely important to us since day one. we’ve always seen the visual side of music on an even level as the actual music. with us, one doesn’t really make sense without the other.
these shoots we did for the ep were suuuper fun but a little challenging because they were during the start of the pandemic, so we had to get really creative figuring out how to get good stuff while keeping the team really small and everyone involved safe.
favorite shoot was probably ‘brokenhearted’ – it was with some of our favorite people ‘twang pictures’ out of tulsa. their minds are just amazing and they kill it every time. that video is so beautiful and it’s exactly what we had in mind for it.
You’ve mentioned previously how it can be hard to keep the attention of listeners in this age with so much music being put out, how do you think you all keep your fans engaged? Does social media play a hand?
it’s definitely hard to keep the attention of listeners, but we try [to] see that as a motivator. there is SO much amazing music out there, it really keeps us sharp and on our toes to create the best music we can. social media definitely plays a hand and is important to us. we run our own socials, so we see every message, comment, and tweet that comes through. having that direct contact to our fans is extremely important and is so nice to be able to be able to connect to our people in a genuine way.
Do you have a name for your fanbase like so many artists are starting to have and if not, what do you think they should be called?
To be in a global pandemic is crazy on its own, but releasing music now must be crazier. What are the biggest things that stand out to you compared to this EP release and your first EP? Has the quarantine led to any new joan songs in the works?
releasing music has been amazing, but definitely different than what we were planning. we usually are touring around releases, and we were planning to do our biggest headline tour around cloudy. we’ve got plans to make up for this, though. 🙂
and yes, quarantine has led to a LOT of new joan songs!
What’s it been like transitioning from live concerts to live streams? And we’ve had a glimpse of cloudy live from your virtual performance, what can fans expect from a real live show from you once gigs can safely be held again?
you just had to get in a different headspace for virtual stuff. it’s a real performance, just for literally no one [is] standing in front of you. which is both extremely weird and also kinda exciting. that show kinda felt like being in high school again with all of our mates crowded around a garage. except then that is broadcasted to thousands of people across the world haha. the bottom line is: we’re in the same shoes as everyone else with the pandemic. we adapt and we do our best! but the second we can be in a room with everyone again – wow our hearts might explode.
How was it to transition from being the opening band to the headliner one? What was the most memorable moment you had while on tour?
GREAT question. being the support band has its own challenges, but it’s def the easier of the two scenarios. your job is to play the best show you can in about a 25-30 min slot and try to win people to your music. less is expected of you, which also can mean less is afforded to you. you don’t have to show up as early, but your merch table may be out back next to a tree haha.
when you switch to headlining, you realize very quickly how much work goes into putting on a show day in and day out at different locations for months at a time. all of the logistics are up to you now. BUT the trade off is that it’s now your show! you get to create and share with your fans [that have paid their money] to come watch and listen and experience what you’ve created. the work becomes harder but the reward is so sweet. we’re so grateful for the journey we have had to now be headlining our own shows.
Which new track are you most excited to play in front of a live crowd now that the EP is out and fans know the lyrics, and what song of yours is always a favorite to play live?
it’s so fun to figure songs out for live. there is always a moment when we are rehearsing a new song where we kinda look at each other and go “wooooo this feels awesome.” those are sweet moments. from our newer songs, really loved playing ‘try again’ and ‘brokenhearted’ on our first headline tour. but as we are writing nonstop, there are so many you haven’t heard yet!!!
That explains why we get goosebumps every time we hear a new joan track, and we can not wait to hear what masterpieces they have planned! And, did someone mention a tour when things get back to somewhat normal? Ah, to be in the crowd of a joan show. But until then, stream their newest EPs cloudy and partly cloudy with us, as we vibe out into the new year!
What song off of cloudy have you had on repeat? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us over @TheHoneyPOP!
Featured Photo: Connor North/joan via Instagram