“I realised my friends were mostly females and fell in love with the idea of a girl band of sorts, like the 60’s groups I grew up listening to,” says Juniore’s Anna Jean. “That’s what I wanted most. A kind of sisterhood, made up of plenty of interesting and talented women. And of course, to write music, connect, and share it with the world.
The result that this sisterhood produced is a dreamy kaleidoscope of sounds that Jean playfully labels “yéyé noir”. As displayed on their debut album, the Paris group also explore surf grooves, sunshine pop, sizzling psychedelia and garage rock. Whilst the music is buoyant, sleek and undeniably sexy in its skip and beat, it contains a lyrical depth that nestles deeper than the good times vibes of the sonics. “A lot of our songs are about love - mostly breakups, walks of shame, bad surprises or, in other words, unhappy love affairs,” says Jean. “I liked the idea of playing upbeat music to dark lyrics. There’s something about the contrast, the irony of things, the paradox of feelings.”
While you will need to be fluent in French in order to understand the lyrics, there’s still a creeping sense of melancholy in the tone that makes the emotion within the songs feel universal. For Juniore, the exploration of French culture and heritage has also played a part in forming the identity of the band. “It’s been really nice to listen to interesting, innovative music in French, influenced by France’s musical history. I think the music we make comes from the same desire to pay homage to this history - in this sense, we feel a kinship to bands like La Femme or The Liminanas.”
For the album, Jean worked on most of the songs in her attic on an acoustic guitar, writing songs inspired by everyone from Dario Argento to Francoise Hardy to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. She then took them to her band, consisting of Swanny Elzingre (drums), and someone called the Thing on bass. Here the songs were brought to life through personality implants from the rest of the band, not simply filling out Lean’s songs but adding a new dynamic to them altogether, as she explains. “I try to inject something of the band member’s personalities in every song. Either in the stories we tell or in the music itself. Be it Swanny’s mermaid-like vocals, her delicate and rough beats, her passion for African music. It adds depth to the songs I bring out of my solitary room.” The subjects and sounds that the band cover is vast, from beachy moods to urban Nouvelle Vague atmospheres, along with a touch of spooky vibes. The new son ‘Magnifique’ is a celebration of beautiful losers and how it’s their time to shine.
The end result is an album that radiates a potent sense of vibrancy, endlessly entrapping the listener in its seamless melodies, immersive harmonies and unshakable grooves. A French language record influenced by obscure horror films and unhappy love affairs may not sound like a joyous and life-affirming record but the charm and skill of Juniore is taking something specific, niche, personal and unique and making it universal, something for which language no barrier. For Jean, this idea of connecting people through music is what drives the band and this record. “We hope this album will give us a chance to meet more people, spread the love.”
It’s with a French je-ne-sais-quoi that Juniore cultivate their sense of style. Hedi Slimane from Saint Laurent chose the band to be part of his Music Project –photographs of musicians taken all over the world. On stage, Juniore wears dresses from Paco Rabanne. Their music has been chosen for Dior commercials, among other brands. The girls from Juniore also appear in a music sequence of the film Les Fauves, directed by Vincent Mariette and starring Lilly Rose Depp, that will be released at the end of 2018.
Juniore has spent the last few years touring France but also, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Japan, America, Canada and Australia. After two 7 inches released in 2015, their EP (Le Phonographe/A+LSO/Sony France) and a cassette on Burger Records in 2016, their first album Ouh Là Là (Le Phonographe/A+LSO/Sony France) was released in France in 2017. In June 2018, the album will be released in the UK on the label Outré, with an exclusive song “Magnifique” and a cassette version will be coming out in the US on Burger Records.
- JACOB BELLENS