Junaco are the L.A. based and NorCal bred duo comprised of Shahana Jaffer and Joey LaRosa. The duo craft sincere and heart-centered tunes using their emotionally raw life experiences. Junaco means rolling with the pace of life and enjoying the present; living and working with intention. It’s something the artists hope they imbue in their music and particularly the new single ‘Blue Room’. A track full of melancholy as much as it has a certain effervescence. Check out my interview with Junaco below. We chat about their new single ‘Blue Room’, collaboration, and the creative process in this new way of life.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Hi, Shahana & Joey! Thanks for taking the time out! So, how has quarantine been treating you guys? How have you had to adjust creatively if at all?
JUNACO: Thanks for having us! Quarantine definitely has its ups and downs, just trying to get through each day seems to be the best option. Creativity used to not be something that I would think about as much, and it was just part of my everyday life. Working with people and creating was just normal. Taking other people out of the equation kind of changed it – it feels like i have to set aside time to work that muscle. It’s hard to be inspired without travel or experiencing life with people and new things.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: How did your new single ‘Blue Room’ come together? What was the recording and writing process like?
JUNACO: Before quarantine started, we knew we wanted to make a record – the last time we made a record, we didn’t have songs to choose from and we wanted to this time. When quarantine hit, we wrote a song every day for a couple weeks. We probably finished this song in a couple hours – we were writing around 4pm and the sky seemed to seep into the room, feeling like it was reflecting off the white walls. That was the main inspiration for this song, as life slowed down we really learned to enjoy it. Can’t say i feel the same now haha. The recording process started by us sending voice memos to James McAlister. He would tinker with things and we’d talk a bit about what we wanted and then we’d get into it. Joey recorded drums in the living room – the same room we wrote the song, and we built this song by just sending bits and pieces to James as he added bits and pieces. We kind of finished the song, but we all felt like it was missing something & none of us felt we had anything left to say. At the time we were listening to this band Amo Amo a lot and knew we really wanted to work with Omar Velasco at some point. So we just cold call emailed him and sent him the track and said if you hear anything, throw it on there. Within a couple days, he sent back that lead guitar line that glues the whole song together. It felt like he was supposed to play that part, it happened so smoothly.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: How do you think your surroundings and coming from a mountain town in Northern California influence your sound?
JUNACO: We actually wrote our first record on a writing trip in Aptos/Capitola (a foresty-oceanside town in Northern California). I wish we met there, that would be a better story. That place just has a spooky, elevated energy. We spent a lot of time exploring the Redwoods and running along the beach. The first record definitely captured the feeling of those places – though I don’t feel like we thought too hard about those songs. I think we challenged ourselves this time around to write better songs. Turns out we have to either be locked away in a tiny town where we know no one or literally locked in a house to write a whole bunch. Hopefully we can break that pattern haha.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: How was it working with producer James McAlister? Having worked with some notable names like Taylor Swift. How do you think he helped you guys with crafting your sound on ‘Blue Room’?
JUNACO: Working with James has been such an eye opening experience, it instantly felt like the right fit. We really gave him free reigns because we were already familiar and fans of his work. He was a very integral part of this record, without him it would be a completely different record. His thoughts and ideas were just as important to us as the songwriting and it was such a fun and collaborative project.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: How did the collaboration with the woman-run local design studio, Via Verano come about?
JUNACO: Caroline (founder of the brand) styled a photoshoot for us last year and really captured our vibe. Since then we wanted to make something together – it was really important to us to make something that was sustainably made, something locally made and something that wouldn’t create much waste. For our first piece of merch, we collaborated with her and made canvas pouches out of her hand-dyed fabric. It was a lot of fun & we’re proud of what we made!
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What’s a song you wished you had written?
JUNACO: All Things Must Pass by George Harrison.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What is the one piece of pop culture that has kept you sane during quarantine?
JUNACO: Binge watching Succession was definitely a highlight. I wish i could watch it for the first time again.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: And… Last question, what’s next for Junaco?
JUNACO: We have an EP coming out in June that we made last year with James that we’re really excited about & we’re writing some new music! And working on making some more locally made merch.
You can listen to Junaco ‘Blue Room’ here.
Buy ‘Blue Room’ Local Merch here.