joan Go 'All the Way' On Buoyant New Track: Exclusive
Indie pop duo joan isn’t holding anything back with their new song “All The Way,” premiering exclusively on Billboard today (Oct. 25).
On “All The Way,” joan (Alan Thomas and Steven Rutherford) fuse a retro sound with modern pop sensibilities, using an infectious hook and sugary synths to give the song a bright tone, not unlike that of The 1975.
joan released their debut EP Portra back in July, and since then, teamed up with rising-pop artist Jeremy Zucker to open on his sold-out tour. The duo, hailing from Little Rock, Ark., recently signed a deal with Snafu Records, the new label venture of songwriter Carl Falk, known for his work with artists like Avicii and Charlie Puth.
Billboard caught up with joan before the last show of their tour to discuss the inspiration behind their new song, and what’s next for them. Get a first listen of "All The Way" below, and check out our Q&A after the jump.
What inspired you to write “All The Way?”
Steven Rutherford: Whenever we write songs, we usually come up with the hook first, and then from there, lyrically, we'll do a stream of consciousness. I don't know a better word for it other than "word vomit.” It's basically to let out what you're thinking and feeling. If you don't now, maybe you never will. It'd be a shame to not tell the one you love how you feel and miss out on a whole life together.
Alan Thomas: This one just kind of made sense to where we're headed next with our music. Kind of like the first new era of joan.
How does “All The Way” indicate what direction you’re moving in as artists?
Thomas: We love pop music. That's kind of what we binge out on. We’re trying to figure out how a small, brand new baby-band fits in the grand scheme of pop music. We’re less focused on keeping up with what Portra sounded like, and more focused on just making sure that each song is badass. It's less about keeping "a sound" and more about asking if these songs going to hit people the way they hit us.
Your music has a very distinct, 80’s pop sound. How did you find this sound, especially coming from a place like Arkansas that’s dominated by country and harder rock?
Rutherford: I think it comes from [listening to] our parents' radio station growing up. We both gravitated towards a certain sound, like Michael Jackson, Prince and Don Henley. There's just something captured in that vibe that is special to me. Someone said, "Portra was like the perfect culmination of a John Hughes soundtrack." That kind of just fit really well with where our heads were at when we were writing. What would a 1987 prom feel like?
How did that background sonically influence “All The Way?”
Thomas: I feel like we were listening to Prince a lot, at that moment. He would put a guitar straight into an API preamp, and it just gave it this dry, funky, vibe. It completely captured a generation of sound, kind of like the gated reverb drums with Phil Collins. A big thing about “All The Way” was how do we say a lot with the music, without actually that much going on.The lyric kind of hits you, and then there's some space, and then it's just a bass and drums. That's enough. You don't always have to have layers, upon layers.
What has it been like performing as the opening act on Jeremy Zucker’s tour?
Rutherford: People say, "We had never heard your music before, but we love it and we're going to look you up after." That's probably the most rewarding part. It's like a blind date, and we're just trying to make sure we can go on a second date.
Does joan have more music on the way?
Thomas: We're very excited about the next several months. To sound like a mysterious, vague person...yes, more is coming. Next year is going to be awesome. The year of joan.