The French are suave is one of those stereotypes that kind of stick. And here’s yet more proof.
Juniore are a band from Paris who most likely lounge in intricately upholstered couches, staring off and thinking, and then get up and sway around the room for a bit, daring the upcoming night to entice them, but half the time deciding reflection might be the new getting wasted. But you hope the groovy rhythms, reverb-walk guitars and chilly chanteuse vocals that come from their urbane moods are playing should you go sneak a cig at your local underground cave-like bar tonight.
We thought we’d check in with singer Anna Jean as the band prepares fro their first Stateside release: a self-titled compilation of tracks from their 2015 EP, Marabout, from their first two 7-inches and a previously unreleased track. It’s out digitally and on cassette May 20 via Burger Records.
Please give us some background on the band’s history.
I grew up between Nice, in the south of France, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. An odd combination of opposites. I met Samy Osta in high school in Nice, and we started playing music together when we both moved to Paris. Our first band was called Domingo, a folk duo, and we toured a little bit around Europe in our car during university. I became a translator but continued to play music, and Samy started his own recording studio, working with different bands. When I began writing songs for Juniore, we decided to work together again. We recorded a few songs in between our work schedules, and released two 7-inches on the label Entreprise in 2013 and 2014. A few months before releasing our first record, I brought in a couple of female musician friends, and the band began to play shows. We adjust depending on the venue. Sometimes there’re six of us on stage, and these days it’s usually three – Agnés plays the keyboard, Swanny plays the drums, I play guitar and sing. We’ve played around France but also New York, Tokyo and San Sebastián in Spain. Samy and I started our own music label this year, Le Phonographe, and we released an EP in January, licensed to Sony France.
In the press photos, you all look like you’re dressed as students in some nice private school. What was your early schooling like?
I went to a small Catholic school in New Mexico, we all wore uniforms. The girls had plaid skirts and white collared shirts, but did their best to make it look like an outfit they’d actually picked. It was always interesting. I think it might be one of my worst school experience, but apparently I’ve felt the need to relive it.
Does the band have a “look?”
We all wear the same dresses on stage, black dresses with white collars. I’d like to think we have Wednesday Addams‘ sense of style.
It seems like your musical influences go back to the ’60s. How did you first hear of Serge Gainsbourg, Francoise Hardy, etc.?
Growing up in New Mexico, I’d listen to the local oldies radio station, maybe by default at first, but it became my favorite and still is now. They’d play the Beatles, Van Morrison, the Beach Boys, the Shangri-Las, the Ronettes, Velvet Underground, Lesley Gore…. When I moved back to France as a teenager, I looked for the same kind of radio and found it, only they were French songs. That’s how I found out about Gainsbourg and all the yéyé girls. And it was instantly familiar.
Who are new bands you’re inspired by?
I really like Vivian Girls, La Luz, the Drums, the Allah-Lahs, Jaco Gardner, King Tuff, Ty Segal, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Thee Oh Sees and French bands like La Femme and Flavien Berger.
Where do you play in France? Sometimes when a new band plays music with older references, it’s hard to find a place to play.
We’ve mostly done shows in bars and venues for university crowds. We’ve played a few festivals too, and once in a classical theater in Paris. Last fall, we were lucky enough to follow a well-known French female band called Brigitte. We opened for them in venues with as much as 6,000 people. It was nerve-wrecking but so fun, and a great learning experience. And yes, it can be hard to find places to play new/old music. But we’re pessimistic optimists.
Do your friends have interest in the music that inspired you?
Some of my friends have an ear for oldies, but what we really all have in common is that we love living in this day and age because we have the freedom to choose the era we belong to, to reenact or reinvent it. We don’t have to wait for MTV to air that one video for that one song that we love, while suffering endless amounts of stuff we don’t care about.
What are your plans for another album? And do you plan to come tour the U.S.?
We’ll be recording new songs next month, we’re very excited. Hopefully, we’ll manage to tour in America, to travel to new and familiar cities. It’s something I’d really love for us to be able to do.
Have any of the other band members been to the U.S. before? If so, what did they think of it?
I think we’ve all traveled to America, and those of us who haven’t been there recently feel forever connected to the culture. Music and films and literature and TV. We all grew up listening to Michael Jackson or Nirvana, watching The Fresh Prince of Bel Air or Little House on the Prairie, and fantasized about Tom Hanks’ New York apartment in Big. Some 20 years later, we still expect America to be grand and full of our adolescent wonder. And I think it will always be for us.