The warm desert nights of late summer inspired the August rotation of our New Moon Spotify playlist. We’re pleased to feature a desert songstress, June West, who splits her time between the evergreen peaks of Montana and the sun-bleached sands of Tucson, Arizona. June’s recent single, “Island of Women”, opens with distant phased out electric guitar strums and a clever, symbolic narrative about a man who washes up on the shore of an island of women. Read our interview with June West below, and check out the Paste Magazine premiere of the song.
Featured Artist: June West
Q: We read that the song, “Island of Women”, was written about the mythical Isla Mujeres. Can you tell us more about this island and the meaning of the opening lyrics, “Every man wants a suntan, from the island of women”?
The surface reading of the song is about a tourist enjoying his favorite beach in Mexico. However, you’re spot on about the song having a deeper mythological dimension, which speaks to the exploitation of Mother Earth, women and feminine power by man, men and male-dominated society. The issue is too intricate to be reduced to this 3.5 minute island jam, but I love the imagery of this allegory and hope it invites people to discuss the ways in which this dynamic dictates how we live and treat each other.
Q: The production of this song has so many wonderful references, but feels original and unique to you. Where was the song recorded, and what was that process like?
Thank you! The song was recorded at Midtown Island Studios in Tucson, AZ with engineer Matt Rendon (The Resonars). We tracked drums, bass, and guitars live to tape and overdubbed saxophone, piano, wurlitzer, organ, marimba and pedal steel. The songs were then mixed at Comp-ny in Los Angeles, CA with Jarvis Taveniere (Woods), where we recorded vocals, more percussion, and reworked anything that asked for it.
Q: How has growing up in Montana affected your songwriting and your outlook on the places you’ve traveled since?
I loved growing up in Montana, I developed a strong relationship with Nature that still remains very important to me. The community was nurturing and helped me gain confidence while I was figuring out how to play my instruments, write songs and perform them. However, Montana is very geographically isolated and my exposure to other cultures and types of music happened during my travels–like living in Tokyo in high school and indulging in the incredible access of music offered by internet downloads and attending shows of artists I loved, or busking around Europe with nothing but a ukulele and an unlimited train pass I won in a song contest. It wasn’t until I moved to NYC in 2013 that I even internalized the idea that being a musician (in the way I’d like to be one) could be my job. Montana still nourishes me and my soul whenever I feel depleted, so I find myself continuously returning to my roots even though I am constantly wandering.
Q: During the New Moon, we love to get outside and look up at the stars, which appear brighter in the absence of moonlight. We’re sure you’re familiar with this in the amazing landscape of the Sonoran desert. Do you prefer to write your songs before or after the sun sets?
Often times I am at the mercy of the songs, they come on their own time and I have to make myself available for them. But generally I do my best work in the mornings, especially when I have a full day to break and return to the piece depending on the flow. Desert folks also know, at least during the hotter months, it’s best to be inside during the day when it’s too hot, then to come out at night or early morning to enjoy the magic outside. I love tuning my own rituals to that of my environment.
Q: What’s next for you in your musical journey?
The whole album will be released on 9/14/18, which will commence a US tour spanning the course of two months. I may be coming to your town! As soon as I announce the tour dates, you can follow the dates here. After that, I would love to tour abroad. Though much remains to be seen, the songs I’ve written since this album have been taking a more deliberate soul and R&B direction. Stay tuned!
About the New Moon Playlist
On the New Moon, the earth, moon, and sun align making us unaware of the moon’s presence in the sky. Without the visual presence and glow of the moon, other celestial bodies typically hidden now shine brighter. Our chances of seeing the sky clearly are heightened on this day, making it a day of clarity and new beginnings. Creatively it’s the perfect time to set intentions for a new cycle of dreams and goals, and ways of manifesting them.