On Friday, May 8, 22-year-old singer-songwriter Josie Dunne, who has toured with artists such as Julia Michaels, Ben Rector, and Andy Grammer, hosted a virtual celebration for her Late Teens / Early Twenties EP release.
Late Teens / Early Twenties features five previously-released tracks, including ‘Stay The Way I Left You,’ featuring Dahl, ‘Oh La La,’ and ‘Mute,”‘ while premiering her newest song,’Lost.’ During the private release party, she delivered a stunning live performance and answered audience questions about the release.
Host: Thank you for joining us, we’re so excited for Josie’s EP release today. Josie’s going to play a few songs for us and after the performance, we’ll open up the floor for some questions. And I’ll turn it over to you, Josie.
Josie: Thank you so much for putting this together, this is so fun, and a very unique little press day. I’ve never done anything like this before, but I’m super excited to do it and thrilled that we got a bunch of awesome people to join us today. I’ll just kick it off and talk to you a little bit about Late Teens / Early Twenties which is the EP that is fully out today. I named it Late Teens / Early Twenties because, first of all, I wrote all the songs while I was in my late teens and early twenties and it’s all about things that have happened to me in my late teens and early twenties—so it’s all about first love and first heartbreak and being insecure or whatever goes on in this time period in your life. You know, a classic little coming-of-age story. And so what’s been really unique about this EP, that in hindsight has made the name so special to me, is that we’ve released the whole thing single by single, and we didn’t have the body of work done before we started releasing it. So it’s been really amazing that I’ve gotten to experience the things in my life as a human being, write about them, and then release them at the same time. It’s been this really special little project because, unlike a lot of projects where you’ll have all the songs and then get to sit with them and mull over what the whole story’s going to be, I didn’t have the luxury of doing that. It was more just like we get the songs and then we put them out. And so now, getting to the other side of it with the EP being released today, it’s been really cool because I get to stand back and look at it and realize that all these songs were like writing the story as we went and I can see all of these little ways in each song, as we’ve released one after another, where I’ve just grown as a writer and as an artist and as a human being. And so it’s been this really special project that in a lot of ways, is like exactly how I have lived in my late teens and early twenties where I’m just kind of learning as I go. And with each little moment and each little song and writing session, or meeting like this, or release, you learn a little bit more and grow a little bit more and get closer to who you want to be. So that’s really what this EP is about and this is one of the songs off it. It’s called ‘Stay the Way I Left You’ and I’ll just tell you a little bit more about me before I play.
I grew up in this really tiny town like 30 minutes outside of Chicago, and I have a giant family and we all lived within a mile of each other. And this town is like out of a movie, where you grow up, and then 99% of people marry someone they went to high school with and then stay in that town and raise their kids there. I was listening to a podcast the other day and they were talking to this artist who was on tour and she was coming back to her house, and she said, “it’s really weird being on tour because when you come back to where you left, everything is exactly where you left it.” And I thought, “Okay, boom that’s a song right there.” And in a lot of ways I could relate to that because that’s exactly how I feel about the town I grew up in. My parents lived down the block from each other, knew each other their whole lives and got married, bought the house that my dad grew up in from my Grandpa, and so it’s like everything in my life up until the point where I moved to Nashville was kind of this little bubble. And I love it and every time I go back it’s amazing and so we turned it into a love song, but really the heart of this song is about where I grew up. So this is called ‘Stay the Way I Left You.’
Josie: The next song I want to do is another really special song to me. It was the first collaboration I ever got to do, and it was with this amazing DJ named Matoma. What I love so much about this song, especially right now in the world that we’re living in, is that it’s been a really fun song to re-imagine for livestreams. Matoma is all about positivity and finding hope in hopeless situations and that’s the same with me, I’m an optimist and I’m always trying to keep the good vibes going. And that’s exactly what this song is about and it’s why I fell in love with it in the first place. It was so much fun to put my vocals in it because it’s all about finding light in darkness and finding the positivity. So this is ‘Sunday Morning.’ Like I mentioned, I did this song with a DJ, so it usually sounds very different than the version I’m about to play for you. Normally there’s a lot more synths and bass drops and the whole nine yards, but this is going to me just me and a guitar, so here we go.
Josie: The last song I’m going to play is the song that came out today. I wrote it only a month ago so I wrote it while this quarantine has been going on and while the world has been so crazy. And to give you a little background, like I said with this EP, because it was coming out song by song we often had a deadline before we had the song written. So I had gotten to a place where we were making the decision on Monday of what the song was gonna be, and from the songs we were picking from, I didn’t feel like we had the song that I wanted. And especially at this time, it was so important for me to say something I felt I really wanted to say and that came from a really personal place because I think as an artist you have this unique opportunity, right now, to kind of spill your guts. Everybody is feeling really vulnerable and lost in the world, and if you’re not, I have a lot of questions for you about what you’re doing to keep sane! But I was definitely having a tough week. I had gotten to the point in quarantine where I was starting to go a little crazy. And I did this Livestream with one of my friends who’s an amazing songwriter and artist; her name is Kennedy. And I’m a huge fan of hers and she’s one of the best songwriters I have ever been in a room with, so I was really nervous to do the Livestream with her. And I did it, and it was fine. I told a goofy little story and everyone laughed, and then I got off the Livestream and the next guest she had on was JoJo, who I’m a massive fan of, and I’ve been a fan of hers all my life. And JoJo was just dripping in media training like she was so eloquent, so well-spoken, she was hilarious and clever and personable, and said stuff that was really meaningful. And I stepped away from that Livestream feeling pretty crappy about myself because I wasn’t JoJo. It’s really easy to get in your head and compare yourself to other people thinking, ‘I’m not smart enough’ or ‘I’m not funny enough.’ It’s so easy to go down that rabbit hole. And that day I sat in my room and wrote this song called ‘Lost’ and so that’s kind of the story behind it. This is the first time I’ve ever played it for people and I’m pretty nervous right now but here goes.
Host: That was so awesome, thank you so much Josie. So we are now going to get into the Q&A portion of the celebration. We’ll dive into the first question. You have said that Motown and classic pop music influenced your songwriting. Can you be specific about the artists and albums that have made a major impact on you?.
Josie: My mom was a big Stevie Wonder fan and because of that I became a really big Stevie Wonder fan and so he’s probably my favorite artist of all time. But in addition to him, I grew up on all the different Motown stuff like Etta James, Aretha, Ray Charles, The Supremes, and the list goes on and on. I just love old Motown and R&B Soul, like the way they feel what they sing. That’s always what I try to get at in my songs.
Host: It’s not too often that an artist has a music video for every single song on their project but you do. Which music video was the most fun for you to film and why?
Josie: Each video was fun to make in a different way, but I think my favorite from this project was the first one that we shot, which was ‘Mute.’ As soon as I wrote the song I knew what I wanted the music video to be. I thought it would be cool to do where it’s like a couple flipping through tv channels, and I’m all the different people in the channel. Like I’m the ‘as seen on TV’ salesman, and I was the bachelorette and the newscaster, so that was a lot of fun because I got to wear big 80’s wigs and big weird makeup and over-act so I think that was probably my favorite one. But each one has been really fun and I feel really lucky that we’ve secured this team of people where each music video feels comfortable and safe and fun to be at.
Host: Were you going for a certain theme when you were making Late Teens / Early Twenties? Which song is the most personal to you on this collection?
Josie: Yeah, kind of like I touched on before I wanted it to all feel young and nostalgic, and feel happy. Like I think the period of time from 18 to 23 is so fun. It’s like this in-between period where you don’t really have responsibilities but you think you do, so I tried to take that and put it into music, and keep it fun and light. But really at the end of the day, I think the track that feels most personal to me and that I think really encapsulates the whole EP is ‘Lost’ because I wrote it really challenging myself to not just go with the line that rhymed but sit and really make sure that every single thing I said was exactly how I felt in that moment. And so I think that song gives people a more inside view of who I am.
Host: What’s a song you love so much you wish you had written it?
Josie: Oh man, this is really hard. My number one answer is ‘Jolene’ by Dolly Parton. I just love that song, it’s so good. But yeah, there’s a lot of songs that come out today that I wish I wrote. I love the new Justin Bieber and Ariana track.
Host: I feel like you are a big believer in manifestation. Is there an artist that you dream about collaborating with in the future?
Josie: Yes. Well first of all, I love this question because I am a big believer in manifestation. My mom is really into crystals and psychic readings and we were making vision boards out of the womb. But if I could pick any artist to work with it would definitely be Stevie Wonder. And if it wasn’t a musical artist, my other answer for that would be- I’m super into Wes Anderson. Two of my hobbies are film photography and watching movies and so he is probably my favorite director ever. So if I could do a collaboration with him I would just die a happy death.
Host: How are you going to continue to stay active and innovative during this pandemic?
Josie: I’ve been trying to keep myself on a schedule and to hold myself accountable because it makes me feel better if I can walk out of the day feeling like I accomplished what I needed to. Right before everything started going down I bought enough studio gear to get by where I’ve got like speakers, and an amp, and I’ve been learning pro tools and trying to get better at that. I have always wanted to be able to do my own production and make my own tracks and I’ve always used the excuse of not having enough time to learn it and so now has been the perfect time for me to dive into learning how to record my own vocals and record my own tracks. So it’s been a really fun challenge for me and super rewarding to be able to do it myself.
Host: What has life been like for you in quarantine and how has it affected your EP and touring plans?
Josie: My family and I are all healthy and safe, I have a roof over my head and food in the fridge so I can’t really complain too much. I feel like I’m on solid ground in terms of all of the essentials. And so I feel bad complaining but it is what it is. It’s tricky day by day, but I couldn’t have created the song, ‘Lost’ without being in quarantine. And so I’m grateful for the rough patches because you learn and grow from it. And I know I’m going to come out of this stronger and better. But in terms of touring, it has been a bummer. I know a lot of artists don’t love being on the road but I love it. I think playing shows is my favorite piece of the whole puzzle. And so it’s been hard to step away from doing that and step away from my tour manager and the people I play with. They have become some of my best friends so being away from them has been difficult.
Host: Do you have any other interests besides music that you have been exploring during quarantine?
Josie: I have been playing a lot of animal crossing (laughs). That’s a huge interest of mine recently. And I also have a pet bird, a little blue parakeet, named Calvin who will sit on my shoulder all day long. So it’s been fun to be able to hang out with him. I grew up with a lot of pets so it’s nice to be able to spend extra time with him.
Host: How are you celebrating your big day?
Josie: On this zoom call with all of you wonderful people! And also in my Dm’s on Instagram, it’s been so awesome to see people responding to the EP. It’s been so so rewarding. After this, I’m doing an Instagram Live. We’re doing a little virtual house party and my roommate and I are bringing in a bunch of fun guests so I’m really excited. And Calvin will be there of course, with a little party hat.
Listen to Late Teens / Early Twenties below: