Interview Juanita Stein: “There’s something pretty magical that is derived from pain”

Juanita Stein: “There’s something pretty magical that is derived from pain”

‘Snapshot’ was written in the midst of Juanita’s father’s terminal illness. She tells us how it came together, including having her brother on the record.

Sharing her third solo record ‘Snapshot’ earlier this week, Juanita Stein’s darker new offering was formed out of a tumultuous emotional time.

“It feels fundamental to understanding the devastation and eerie silence thrust upon us after his sudden death,” the Brighton-based, Australian songwriter explains. “It was a daunting task to sum up the life of one man such as my father. He was endlessly inspiring, charming, deeply talented and passionately spiritual. He admirably, and at times frustratingly, carried the torch for his own musical career until the very end.”

A personal and emotional new offering recorded over the course of eight months, we sent her over some questions to find out a bit more how it came to being.

This album came out of a very tumultuous time for you emotionally. Can you give us an insight into the songwriting process?
In an artistic sense, there’s something pretty magical that is derived from pain. Only a couple of times in my life have I been able to experience that rawness. It’s brutal and at the same time, you’ll never have such direct access to ’the source’ so to speak. So while my father was ill, I found absolute solace in writing these particular songs. While the outside world was crumbling, I was able to harness that into music.

Your last two albums were recorded with a relatively quick turnaround of just a few weeks. This album was spread over 8 months. Was that a creative choice?
Yes, in the sense that I had the luxury of being able to record in a studio close to where I lived, so I didn’t have to cram the creative process into a two-week period, it also gave us time to really consider the songs and their parts. It gave me time to consider the lyrics, and also, I was able to experiment sonically in a way I haven’t on the last two records.

Your brother Joel played guitar on a number of these tracks. What was the thinking behind this?
Joel and I have played music together since we were kids, and there’s a secret language you develop with musicians you’ve played with for a long time. Without words, we can communicate what’s working and what isn’t. Because of the intensely personal nature of the record and the fact that he was experiencing the same grief I was, I only wanted him to be involved and to put his stamp on it. Also, just straight up, he’s a shit hot guitarist.

The themes on this record are clearly deeply personal. How does it feel to share these songs with others?
Writing the songs was the only thing I could do at the time to get through, making the record was the only thing I could do at the time to get through, luckily, I had Ben Hillier at the helm to navigate the process, so until the very point of releasing the music, I've felt inspired and protected so to speak. What people do with the songs and the lyrics and the vibe is out of my control. So, I truly have to let this go and embrace whatever comes. However! Having said that, to share these songs and this profound experience with other people that are open and inspired when hearing them is truly phenomenal to me.

'Snapshot' is out now via Nude.

As featured in the October 2020 issue of DIY, out now.

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