You wouldn't naturally assume that a Parisian dream-pop band would find its origins in the quiet city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. But it's where singer-songwriter, and founder of Juniore, Anna Jean first began crafting the songs that would go on to influence the band's current material. After a childhood spent in the south west US desert, Jean, the daughter of Nobel Prize winning author J.M.G. Le Clézio, relocated to Paris for 12 years - a move evidenced in her effortless transition between French and English conversation. "I grew up [in New Mexico] ... I had this fantasy that it was where I was supposed to go," she says. "You know, as I grew older I thought ‘I have to go back, I have to go back to this one place where I’ve grown up’." Not long after returning to her home town she felt a yearning for her old life in Paris. "I started to miss France, which was completely absurd. I started listening to French music on YouTube - I would watch videos of 60s French singers like Françoise Hardy and France Gall, who just passed away actually, and pretty much anything and everything from the 60s in France."
"I started to feel really homesick, so I was writing songs that were pretty much as if I had been living in that era. I started to imagine what I would have written if I was living in the 60’s in France."
Jean moved back to France armed with a collection of songs and a plan to find other like-minded women to play them live with her, leading her to current bandmates Swanny (drums) and Laure (keyboard). "At first I didn’t want it to be all girls," explains Jean. "I just wanted to play with my friends and they all just happened to be girls. But ... I realised how difficult it is to find female musicians - it was really bizarre. People started calling us a girl group, which I didn’t really feel at all. We were just a band and friends playing together. Once I realised how difficult it was, it was then my mission to make everyone be a female."
"I think travelling with females is very different to travelling with males. I think if I were in a band of men I would become very tired of being on the road, whereas we haven’t known each other that long ... but we have that ability to become instant friends."
The connection between the three women manifests itself in the group's ghostly vocals, French pop melodies and existential lyrics, imprinted on two records - the first, a collection of the band's EPs collated into an eponymous album-length record, and the second, their first LP, Ouh là là, released in September 2017. "I had the opportunity to put everything that I love the most into this one thing," says Jean. "It became a big ball, a mix and match of everything that I love the most. It is basically almost and always about love and relationships and they are not the most optimistic, but I hope they are funny and I hope that there is humour that people can pick up." It's this dark humour that has captured the attention of iconic French house Saint Laurent who tapped Jean for its Paris Sessions Music Project, as well as securing Juniore a billing at So Frenchy, So Chic in January this year, where they performed in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney.
Of their music, Jean insists it's always about the feeling more than the words. "I think it’s always what musicians or the songs that you listen to want, it’s about, I don’t know how you say that - its like a way of life in a sense, you get a glimpse of somebody’s or people, not necessarily one person, but you get a glimpse of how a group of people feel towards a certain aspect of life. It's the way you feel philosophically about the world. Even though the 60s inspires our music there is still a little bit of something from today … there is a mix of things and I hope that when people listen to it they understand our philosophy and how we see things."
"We are not a huge band but when we travel we meet people and I can tell that it is like we have been talking to people that we do not know. It is so nice. You meet people that you have nothing to do with and get along really naturally. It is a really nice feeling and I love that."
PHOTOGRAPHY Mason Stevenson
FASHION Natalie Petrevski
TALENT Anna Jean, Swanny and Laure
HAIR Anthony Nader @ DLMAU
MAKEUP Nadine Monley @ Title Artist Management using Chanel
STYLIST’S ASSISTANT Francesca Nwokeocha