When you listen to Juni Habel, it isn’t surprising that singer-songwriting greats like Joni Michelle, Joan Baez and the late Nick Drake instantly come to mind. Just like those legends before her, Habel has a gift for creating less-is-more art using warm, somber vocals infused with atmospheric, spellbinding guitar. Her new single ‘Run Dry‘ is out now – and it’s everything folk music should be. Take a listen below, it’s the second single from her upcoming full-length debut album, “All Ears”; which is due to drop later this fall.
After traveling about an hour southeast of Oslo, Norway – I finally arrived at Juni Habel’s home. It’s an old school-house silhouetted against the backdrop of Scandinavia’s (almost) never ending summer sun. Outside, some chickens peck away at their feed as a cat scrutinizes spots of shade to nap in. Inside, Juni sits with her husband. The two musicians work out parts for Juni’s upcoming album, giving a private concert of sorts to Juni’s grandmother (who also lives with them) and their dog.
At least that’s what I image I would have seen from what Juni described of her life in Norway. But, of course, that would have meant trekking to the Scandinavian peninsula personally. And as much as that would have been “rått”, I will have to settle for those images existing only in my head. Still, you know how much we love modern folk artists, so a little difference in geo-location didn’t stop us from reaching out to do a little Q&A about her latest tune.
Check out our interview with Juni below.
FTLOB: Let’s dive right in. Where did you record ‘Run Dry’ and the rest of the “All Ears” album?
JH: I recorded most of my album at home. That way I got the peace-of-mind and time I needed to do takes in the right way, and with the right mood. I do everything really simple – I don’t have any fancy equipment, and I record everything on Garageband, which I find very liberating. I usually start with the vocals and guitar, before adding strings and other stuff. For me, the vocals are clearly the most important thing in the songs.
FTLOB: Your sound is very organic, almost earthy for lack of a better term, both in its songwriting and production. Was there any thing specific you were trying to achieve sonically with this album?
JH: I just wanted the record to be unpretentious and playful. I developed a lot of different strategies to keep it at that level, and not think too much about it. Sometimes I would play with my phone while singing, just to make it more relaxed and natural. When you really want it to be good, you can get really uptight and try too hard. I felt I needed to come down to do it right.
FTLOB: Who played with you?
JH: On ‘Run Dry‘ my friends Sunniva of-Tordarroch (cello) and Thea Hernæs (drums) play with me. I also have my brother, husband and uncle playing with me on the album.
FTLOB: Tell us a bit about your writing process. How did ‘Run Dry’ find its voice?
JH: I think I listened to a lot of Kurt Vile while writing Run Dry. The lyrics are mostly a result of a lot of jam sessions. At first, I found it confusing with the different perspectives in the song. But then I realized that the different voices in the song was an image of my own inner dialogue. The mind can sometimes be ambivalent and split like that, with one encouraging, mature voice juxtaposed against a different more pessimistic and destructive voice.
FTLOB: How do you quell those destructive voices? What inspires you?
JH: I mostly work on freeing myself from conventions in the music world, but at the same time respect the dogmas of the music itself. I want to give myself the permission to follow my curiosity and play whatever I want to, and not cling to a certain “style”. In my text writing, I like being a bit associative and random – and almost always prefer my instinctive jams before my thinking. Inspirationally speaking – other artists, mostly in the folk-genre, but I really do love, and take inspiration from, a lot of different music; world, trip-hop, pop and indie-stuff. I also get inspired by simplicity, and everything you can do at home, lo-fi homemade stuff.