A REFLECTION OF LIFE
Ahead of a return visit to Australia, Valerie June reflects on her musical journey so far and talks with Chris Familton about the importance of being true to her muse and her personal beliefs.
Down the line from New York, Valerie June lets out a yelp of excitement as she steps out into the late summer evening, exclaiming “Oh my god, a beautiful butterfly”. It’s a nice analogy for the songwriter’s career so far; one that has morphed from gospel music in church to selling albums from her car, from home demos to recording with Old Crow Medicine Show and Booker T. Jones. Along the way, June has embraced her propensity for blending all manner of roots music styles and from the outset she quickly discovered that she had little choice in the matter.
“I was very conscious of it when I started writing songs because I hear them in my head, like a painter sees the painting in their mind’s eye before they put it on the canvas,” she explains. “I hear a lot of songs and I hear all different types – soul songs, country songs, blues songs. So I do whatever the song tells me to do. If I only heard country songs I’d just be country singer. I hear different songs so I feel like my job is to sing it like I hear it and give it to the world and then from there if people like them or they help or heal them then I feel like I’ve done my job.”
June’s new album The Order Of Time find her continuing to evolve her sound, imbuing it with softer and more meditative tones and textures and this time around she feels “the record is more cohesive because I worked with one producer – Matt Marinelli.”
“On the first one I worked with three different producers (incl. Dan Auberbach) and they all had different styles. I was learning too – learning how you make a real record. I’d made an EP with Old Crow Medicine Show and that was the most professional recording I’d made up to that point. On The Order Of Time I felt like I knew what a bit about what I was doing, I knew what I wanted and how to do it because I’d had so many different teachers so I just decided to be comfortable and say what I wanted and that’s what I did with this one and we worked together so well,” enthuses June.
June isn’t afraid to speak out against social and political injustices in this divisive day and age. Like fellow Americana travellers such as Drive-By Truckers, she believes in speaking her mind both in her music and public discourse. “I do believe that art is a reflection of what you feel in your heart and how you view things. That’s why we get signs out or sing a song about things like equality for women. There are different ways of doing it for every person but one thing for sure is you have to speak for what you believe in,” June stresses. “Your beliefs form your reality. It’s important to live that and be proud of that. I have so many friends of different races and ages and my audience is the same when I look out at them. I’m glad that I can bring all these people together for one hour in a day to celebrate something. People need to be who they are and be true to themselves.”
Upcoming Tour Dates:
Sep 28 – The Tivoli Brisbane, Australia
Sep 29 – Dashville Skyline Hunter Valley, Australia
Sep 30 – Caloundra Festival Caloundra, Australia
Oct 01 – Forum Theatre Melbourne, Australia
Oct 03 – Enmore Theatre Newtown, Australia