INTERVIEW: joan on crafting ‘something special’ from past relationships

Pop duo joan are busy crafting a collection of songs that capture significant moments found within the beginning and end of relationships.

We caught up with the pair on their double EP project titled ‘hi’ and ‘bye’.

‘But I know we got something special!’ sings joan on their latest single.

The newest track, as part of their forthcoming double EP project, is a bright, feel-good anthem that perfectly captures the feeling of having butterflies in your stomach when you end up meeting someone you can really vibe with.

Since May, the pop group from Little Rock, Arkansas have spent this year prepping up one new song each month ahead of their forthcoming double EPs.

These collection of new songs aim to capture significant moments couples will find all too familiar, from the happy highs of meeting someone new in hi to the devastating lows of ending a long-term partnership in bye.

In May, the pair teased fans on their YouTube with a video titled ‘welcome to the wave era’ hinting at new content to roll through in the coming months.

The following day came their first single ‘so good’ which gave fans a teaser of what to expect when both EPs come out in November and December, respectively.

We waved salutations to joan as they took time from their busy schedule to tell us more about their much anticipated two new records.

AsiaLive365: Hello Steven and Alan! This is Nicky from AsiaLive365. How are you?

Alan Thomas and Steven Rutherford: We’re good, how are you?

AL365: I’m good. Just starting the day with this interview! A lot has happened to you guys since we last spoke in March. You guys are about to drop a two-part EP titled hi and bye.

After listening to the five songs released so far, there are unifying themes present in both of the EPs. The songs from hi relate to the beginning of relationships whereas music from bye deal with the end of relationships. What sparked the idea of making two separate EPs?

Steven: We are building up a batch of new songs, trying to figure out what to do with them conceptually. The songs were naturally falling into two different camps – the beginning and end of relationships. We thought it might be a more interesting way of releasing and a more creative way for us to do two EPs. The songs felt more like they should fit in more than one EP but not enough for a full album. It’s been a fun process for us to figure out things concept-wise. We’ve been going along, releasing one song a month for eight months.

AL365: Do these songs come from personal experiences?

Alan: They’re a mix, definitely some personal experiences, some from friends and family, and some just storytelling. Conceptually, I would say every song we write, one of us has gone through something similar. It isn’t always recent, we might write a song that reminds me of a relationship I had when I was 21. We try to write from personal experience as much as possible, and we take some creative liberties here and there.

AL365: Creatively, are there any artistic differences from previous songs you’ve put out?

Alan: The process is definitely different. Before this year, we always kind of took things 75-85% of the way, and then we had a friend, a producer we worked with to come in and help us finish them out. When we released partly cloudy, it was a deep dive into two of the songs we did with our buddy Andy Seltzer, who is a brilliant producer and who worked with us on all of the cloudy EP, and the other four songs we completely reimagined ourselves. We really grew in that season, and so we really wanted to put it into the test this year. This whole year, the production has been us so that has been really cool.

AL365: The latest song you’ve put out is ‘something special’. I read that the song started out as a Doobie Brothers tribute song. How did you guys come up with the song?

Alan: I remember Steven was in the middle of renovating the house that he’s currently in, so I didn’t have as much going on and I was trying to just keep the ball rolling on some song ideas. I remember sending him ‘something special’ that one particular day, from the chords to the chorus like ‘I know we got something special’. It kind of wrote itself musically and this year we’ve had a proper drum room to record in. Once we’re able to try real drums he sitting I don’t know if you can see behind it but there’s a drum kit and that this is like the the first year we’ve had like a drop proper drum room to record in and so once we’re able to like try real drums on it and it just all came together with the melody and chorus.

AL365: When I watch any of your music videos, they evoke that nostalgic feeling that reminds me of videos made by boy bands of the 90’s. How do you come up with your videos when they’re usually you playing music or jumping around?

Steven: (Laughs) Visually, this was the first project we’ve done in which we didn’t have a concept for each song. We partnered with director Brandon Waddell on these new music videos. We worked with him before on ‘brokenhearted’ and ‘cover girl’. We wanted him to run with concepts. Our minds together ended feeling joan, we wanted it to come across as warm and in the same room as us. That’s usually our goal with these videos, to evoke emotions while listening to the songs.

AL365: I’d like to break down the songs from both EPs. In hi, we have ‘so good’ in which it is about meeting this girl and feeling like ‘life has never felt so good’. There’s ‘come over’ in which you sing about wanting to take this girl back home, and one about having great chemistry in ‘something special’.

In bye, there’s ‘don’t say you love me’ in which a girl is leading you on and sending mixed messages. And then there’s ‘waiting on nothing’ in which you stand up for yourself and calling it quits for something that isn’t going anywhere.

When you take a look at all the songs as one big story, there are many relatable situations that people go through in relationships. You’re pretty observant when it comes to detailing these moments.

Alan: First of all, that was very astute of you. That’s very good. Between us two, Steven has the better narrative mind. He’s really good at crafting lyrics and handling all of our visuals. I think his mind is constantly churning a cool musical idea and figuring out how to tie it all together narratively for joan. That’s one of his natural gifts.

When he pitched to me about doing eight songs in eight months across two EPs, and we got to work on the songs, it just naturally happened. It was so organic that we had four perfect songs both for hi and bye.

But until you just did there, I’m not sure that I had thought thoroughly with the dots connecting. I tend to think of things in a greater narrative, not necessarily in the way you would walk through these songs like a story. So kudos to you, you just did our job for us (laughs).

Steven: The way we usually go about songwriting is trying to pick out little moments from relationships instead of writing one full song about one whole relationship. Maybe it’s about this five minute interaction you had with someone or maybe it’s about this feeling you felt for 30 seconds, it clicked and you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m in love with my best friend, I didn’t see that coming’. I think it’s really cool you pointed that out because that’s very much our style of songwriting, pointing out specific spots of relationships.

AL365: How do you feel about your throwback style of music? Do you always find new ways to sonically explore as a band that help you stand out among other music groups?

Alan: I hope we have a unique sound. We definitely draw from a deep well of our parents’ influences and things we grew up listening which literally is just an array of everything. For me it was pop rock, pop country, emo. Eminem and Nelly, which isn’t something you hear in joan. All of those things culminated to who we are now, our goals are simple in every song. Write a song that makes you want to keep singing it, both equally melodically and lyrically ‘hooky’ even if it’s just two phrases that get hammered into your brain. And write a song that’s relatable enough for a mass amount of people. There’s so many bands out there that are amazing in doing better than us, some that writes niche music about one specific moment that’s less than what Steven was saying about a five-minute thing. We found our own little lane that we are comfortable in. When we feel like pushing ourselves to kind of explore outside of that, we do. But I hope that at the end of the day, the main goal is that it should be uniquely joan. Whether we become a household name, worldwide or not, doesn’t matter. If people go, ‘That sounds like joan’, then that’s a high honor for us.

AL365: Seems you both got ‘something special’ with these collection of songs! When can we expect the full release of both EPs?

Steven: So every song we’ve been releasing is like the first Thursday of the month. hi will be out on November 4, bye will come out on December 2. We’ve been waterfalling each song into what will be the final releases of the two Eps. Single number four for each one will be the end of it.

AL365: What do you hope to do in 2022?

Alan: Tour and write more songs! We’ve both have babies on the way, so we’re expecting to meet our little girls soon.

AL365: That’s great news, congratulations! Well, that’s all the time we have for today. Thank you joan for being back here for AsiaLive365.

Alan and Steven: Thank you!

Joan are expected to release a new single next week on Thursday, October 7.





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