For Juna N Joey, Persistence Is Paying Off [Interview]
Sibling duo Juna N Joey are exactly halfway through their 10-year-town journey to Nashville, and they don't seem overanxious to finish. That's remarkable, because a lack of patience breaks hearts in love and country music.
Ironically, they don't know either kind of heartbreak. "Til Your Heart Breaks" — a piano-led ballad that finds a man and woman recognizing true love too late — drips with pathos. Another set of siblings named Doug and Kayliann Lowe helped the pair start and finish their newest song. It started with a piano introduction and quickly became a tear-jerking ballad, but no one is about to lie and say they lived this story. Juna DeFeo is 17 years old, and her older brother Joey is 19.
"I would definitely say we pull it from other people's experiences," Juna says. "We put ourselves in their shoes and kinda write from their perspective because we can't write it from ours. We haven't lived through it."
Of course, country music is filled with precedent. Johnny Cash did not in fact "hear the train a-comin" when he wrote "Folsom Prison Blues." Had Miranda Lambert lived "Gunpowder and Lead" her career would have gone no further outside of the jailhouse. Understanding this takes time, and the Florida natives have put in theirs. Juna N Joey just attended their fourth Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, but they've been coming to Music City to co-write since she was 10 and he was 12.
Those early songs, they admit, weren't good.
"It was intimidating at first," Juna shares. "It was our first time writing so we were trying to be polite. We didn’t want to interrupt."
Every interaction was a chance to make a new connection, sharpen their interview skills, learn something new on an instrument (she started on classical piano at age 3, he picked up singing and guitar as a pre-teen). More than anything, they just didn't try to do too much.
"Our manager always tells us it takes a little bit of time," Joey starts.
"She tells us this is the Olympics," his sister adds. "It's definitely not easy, but it will be so worth it in the end. We understand that this is a long process and a journey."
For now, the mix on their YouTube channel is cover-heavy, but they're very good covers of artists they consider influences: Hardy, Morgan Wallen, Parker McCollum and Kelsea Ballerini, for example. On TikTok they admit they hitch on to trends but go live daily to connect with their 40,000+ fans.
Cody Johnson is another favorite — it's hard to argue that Juna N Joey have bad taste!
This month, Juna N Joey have a couple of hometown shows planned as they attend school (Juna: private school online, Joey: Berklee College of Music in Boston). One gets the sense that they'd love their big break to happen now, but if it takes five more years, that'd be fine, too. There are more songs, more shows and more Country Radio Seminars ahead.