It’s high time to ride the joan wave
Filled with saccharine-sweet love songs, joan’s EP hi narrates the experience of starting a relationship. Think of the heart-pounding, butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling that gets you giddy—joan makes you feel that in the span of four tracks. Putting their captivating lyrics, dreamy and retro-inspired instrumentals and smooth vocals into one mix, joan knows how to strike a chord in a listener, using relatable lyrics that spark emotions we didn’t think we have.
“The more I try to let you go the more I realize / I'm not over you,” declares the indie-pop duo into the mic in not over you, the song they dubbed as “maybe the saddest” single they’ve ever written. It's a notch deeper than their collaboration with BEKA, brokenhearted (together). Slow, dazed and all-consuming, the track not over you puts you into a state of mind that has you yearning for a lost love. It's this track that opens their second 2021 EP entitled bye, a collection of bittersweet tracks and “I could care less” anthems revolving around heartbreak and the end of a relationship.
Since gigs and shows continued to be put on hold early into 2021, Alan Benjamin Thomas and Steven Rutherford saw an opportunity to exercise writing as much as they could. “We decided to write, record and release a song per month for the rest of the year—eight months straight,” shares Thomas in an exclusive press junket with Southeast Asian media. So this year, they focused on learning the ropes in producing their own music. Through the number of demos they made and kept, the tracks they released fell under two themes that led to distributing them between two EPs: hi and bye.
When it comes to songwriting, Thomas shares that “We write out of a place of fiction sometimes, and sometimes we write really personal [songs], it just depends on the setting.” And for joan, the track that serves as a testament to a story they hold close would be someone special. The two wrote about their shared experience in marrying their best friends and becoming fathers to two baby girls. “But you know what, [someone special] feels really conducive to write about our girls, so we just wanted to write a little song.”
But like many a singer-songwriter or creative, there will always be one body of work (or two) made immediately. For joan, that's so done, a sassy track about moving on. They described their usual process as, “We just kind of throw [the demo] to the side, put it in a Dropbox folder. We’re like, ‘If we get back to this in a day, in a week or a month, and we’re still as excited as we were when we did it, then [the song] is a keeper.’” But for so done, each creative decision about the song came naturally and “felt right,” allowing then to finish it faster than they were used to.
Meanwhile, on the horizon is their North American The Wave Tour, slated for 2022. After more or less two years of at-home performances and working on new music in their home studios, the duo is ready to get back on stage. On the topic of what they miss about performing live, Thomas explains, “We realized early on how important it was to tour and how much we love being on stage and performing these songs live. That’s the one thing I miss—figuring out how to translate these songs live. It’s just a different experience.”
The crowd of Wanderland 2019 could probably attest to their great ability to transform their radio-ready singles into one unforgettable performance. So here’s to hoping that joan makes their way to our side of the world—soon, and ready to perform the songs from hi and bye.
Until then, we’ll be keeping their tunes on heavy rotation.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver