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‘I’ll always be drawn to writing darker music’

Wednesday, 27th September, 2017 6:02pm

Talking to her about her upcoming support slot with The Killers, you might accuse Juanita Stein of almost sounding too relaxed.

But behind the air of calm in her voice, the Melbourne native admits to being just a little daunted by the prospect of opening for the Las Vegas band. The Killers are live circuit behemoths after all, regularly packing out the biggest arenas across the pond and in Europe.

“I supported them before a few years back with (previous band) Howling Bells. I’m a bit nervous. You know, with the venues they play there’s a lot that goes into putting on a show of that size. To be supporting a machine like that is sort of overwhelming,” Stein says.

Still, there is a certain anonymity with being a support band. Knowing the majority of concert-goers will likely be waiting in anticipation for the main event is almost a comfort, but also leaves room for gaining new fans.

“With a big venue it’s very important to think of everything like the backdrop, merch(andise) etc,” she explains.

“It’s about just finding a way to connect with the people watching you. Supporting those bands in such huge venues…if 50 people walk away knowing or liking what you do, that’s a win.”

“With Howling Bells it was far more nerve-wracking for us playing a sold out club show, than to get up in front of 20,000 Coldplay fans for example. When there’s that many people they’re faceless, you know? You almost feel like you could be in a room with nobody in it.”

No stranger to the music industry, Stein recorded four albums with country/rock band Howling Bells, working with figures like Ken Nelson who helped produced Coldplay’s ‘X&Y’. Taking the decision to go solo recently, she debuted her solo record ‘America’ earlier this year. Currently on her own intimate solo tour, she will finish up next month before joining up with The Killers for their November jaunt.

The solo journey, she assures me, is something she wants to keep going on, at least for now (Howling Bells are “paused”, she says). “I want to make a second record soon and keep touring, that’s the plan. I’m playing with a full band so it’s the same idea, getting up onstage and trying to connect to people, so it’s not really that different.”

Another thing which has remained unchanged throughout Stein’s career is her tackling of the darker elements in life, something she says is influenced by French music and artists like Francoise Hardy.

“A lot of that French music has a lot of darkness behind it. I think innately I’ll always be drawn to writing about darker stuff. I find there’s something more appealing and truthful in it.

“There are artists who make happy music with depth to it, but then there’s Ed Sheeran sort of happy music which, just doesn’t have a lot to it. I guess I think happy music is boring!”

Juanita Stein plays Fred Zeppelins in Cork on Wednesday 4 October at 8.30pm. Tickets are €12 and are available from

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