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Highly influenced by Motown artists like Etta James and Aretha Franklin, it appears that June Noa also has their vocal chords cause this girl's voice is insane. She's got a certain Joss Stone vibe but much more soulish and with a certain raspiness. Her voice is so good it gets additctive, I've heard her songs like 20 times while writing this, seriously. While working on her debut EP, June answered some questions for this interview and yes, the result is really interesting and a bit leghty, but the longer the better! So keep reading!

Interview after the JUMP ...

*How would you define yourself as an artist?
As an artist I can express myself better on stage than in daily life. I also think it is important to feel connected to my soul. This is why it feels like a necessity to write music and lyrics and perform them on the stage. In these stressful, busy times where people get pressured into achieving the best possible, many have, in the process, lost their true selves. As an artist my goal is to get myself and other people in touch with their own pure emotions.

*Who would you name as your biggest influence? What is your dream collaboration?
Motown artists have influenced me most musically, but I also feel inspired by some of today’s artists. In Motown ‘The Funk Brothers’ were the founders and that’s why that would have been the ultimate collaboration, but also artists like Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and Prince are the embodiment of a real artist! When I look at current artists I have a lot of appreciation for the creativity in mixing several musical styles to one. There is a lot of young talent with Soul! Some examples for me are; Plan B, Eli Paperboy Reed, Ryan Shaw and the list goes on…

*How did you get started with music?
I started out as a studio/demo singer. I got to know the producer, and now good friend, Joachim Vermeulen Windsant and he was immediately excited about the sound of my voice. At the time I was still searching for my own musical identity and singing demos for so many different artists has really helped me to establish my own sound. When I got the chance to sing a Soul track, I was jumping at the opportunity. That’s how I know that Soul and I would become best buddies…

*How has your father musical tastes influenced your style?
My dad really turned my on to Motown and Soul. He was a jazz pianist and also really liked artists like Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington! If there was no radio on or record playing, my dad would be behind the piano playing something. So there was always music around me growing up. Everyday I heard the warm vocals of Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Naomi Shelton and Solomon Burke.

*How do you feel about the general retro revival?
I am delighted to see this style of music making a comeback. For a long time, mostly dance and pop music dominated the charts and I love it that Soul is back on the map. Especially when someone mixes Soul with a different musical style. Plan B for instance, mixes Soul and Rap and the result is really catchy and he speaks to a lot of different target groups. I have a lot of respect for that.

*Where would you fit there?
I see myself fitting in the same category. Soul deserves to get more attention on radio! I mix old Soul influences with modern Pop, but you can just as easily find traces of James Bond theme’s in certain songs. The challenge for me is not to copy what has already been done but to keep searching for ways to connect the old and new influences together.

*You say your sound is soul with a touch of funk and pop, why did you decide to use these styles?
Because I can’t and don’t wish to place myself in a certain type of box. Playing and writing music nowadays is the result of a musical evolution that has been build by so many types of influences. It’s almost impossible to call something purely Soul or Rock etcetera. All of nowadays music (in my opinion) is the result of inspiration that other amazing artists before me have developed.

*Do you consider you draw lots of similarities to Motown music?
Definitely, Joachim and I have been really listening to what it is that’s happening musically in the Motown songs. Things that are very distinctive in a Motown song are the beat, the musical riffs and the harmonies. We payed special attention to these elements during the writing process.

*How is the process of writing for you?
Writing for me, usually happens at the most inconvenient moments. Often I wake up in the middle of the night, half asleep with an idea. This is something I immediately have to record on my phone. I always make sure there is a pen and notepad next to the bed. It usually starts with a melodic line that I hear in my mind. Drowsy as I am I sing it into my voice recorder and the next morning I often think; ‘What the hell is this?!’. After hearing it back a couple of times I usually remember what my intentions were and I start writing. First I determine whether the melody works better in the chorus or in the verse. This process does not only happen at inappropriate times by the way : ) Often times it is a very conscious process. Joachim and I will sit behind the piano and sometimes we will have written a song within the hour. After the basic chords we determine (while drinking lots of tea and eating cookies) which way the melody comes out strongest. We make the beat, than the bass lines and as the cherry on top, the horn section.

*I read that you turned your poems into songs, how hard was that?
That’s right, I used to write a lot of poetry, but once I got to know Joachim I got completely hooked on songwriting. He taught me about the structure of the music and lyrics. From there I started to look for the most essential part of my poems for me. That part would become the chorus, because it’s the centerpiece of the song. The whole process developed naturally.

*Before recording your own songs you provided backing vocals for several artists, what did you learn from that?
Mostly my respect for backing vocalists in general really grew! As a leadsinger you just know where you are at. You just follow the basic line, but as a backing vocalist it is so difficult to sing multiple harmonies and not get confused. It also taught me the difference between singing with or without a vibrato. In a harmony you can’t have to many vibrations in your voice, while in a lead vocal you have much more freedom. By singing demos for so many different type of artists I learned how to use my voice in several different ways. Timing and small subtle things in a sound that can make the difference in how a song comes across and it might even determine whether it is a hit record or not!

*Which artists did you work with?
I have done a lot of diverse things when it comes to demos. From dance, rock, pop to songs for kids etcetera. Especially during the recording of the kid songs we had some big laughs. I would have to put up a small childlike voice while I’m a big Soul singer! Most of the artists I have sung for are Dutch, but I have also sung a demo for a portuguese girlgroup. My most recent demo project was an amazing Soul lady from Canada called ‘Nadja’. These types of projects and being part of the creative process of the songs is such a great pleasure for me to do!

*I read "Why" was your first song, what does it mean to you?
‘Why’ was actually the first song I publically put on my website, but it wasn’t my first song. Songwriting is a process in which you keep developing and get better at as you go along. My first lyrics were still part of the development and I was still very insecure about my writing. When I started I only wrote from my own point of view, without thinking if other people would understand what I was saying. As I learned more and more about songwriting I discovered that as an artist you have to be accessible to your audience without losing the personality in the words. With ‘Why’ I immediately had the feeling I had written something universal. That is the main reason why this song is so important to me, because in many way it was an eye-opener on how to express my personal experience in a universal way for everyone to connect to it.

*What else can you tell me about "If I Ever Leave You"?
‘If I ever leave you’ was written three weeks before my relationship ended. The song originated from the doubt in love, if this was it? Am I actually happy in love or do I simply except what it is I’ve got? In this song I wanted to discover how it would be if I ended the relationship. What would my life look like? Would he fight for me or would it just be over? I wanted to know what my love did to someone and it begged the question; What If I would leave you?’

*So is there a full album in the making?
We have chosen to come out with an EP first instead of a full album. This is something we put a lot of thought in. In the beginning fase of your career, when you are not yet known for your music, I think it is better for an artist to give an impression of what you do. An EP shows an audience who you are without the high expenses of recording and releasing a whole album. I feel like this gives the public a small taste before I give them everything… The EP will come out sometime at the end of August, beginning of September.

*What can we expect from you in the coming months?
At the moment we are mostly working behind the scenes. I have done some miles on the stage by playing a lot for a while, but the real work starts now. The process of making choices regarding the promotional activities, preparing the live act, getting business cards and other marketing activities. You notice especially how big of a tool the social media is for an artist. We are really busy expanding the fan network. We will hit the studio the next couple of weeks to ‘dot the last i’s’, so to speak. Plus that I’m also making choices styling and branding wise. If you want to be in control of everthing, you need to be both a manager as the artist. We are gonna record two songs first and then decide whether to release one of the two as a first single or complete the EP and release everything all at once. It is especially important to follow your heart, because the timing of the release is also very important. Of course I am always thinking of new ideas for the next song. I get my inspiration from the smallest daily things around me. So perhaps there WILL be a whole album on it’s way…

(Listen to more music on her site)
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