joan | 5 Minutes With

joan is a pop duo made up of Steven Rutherford and Alan Thomas who met at university, their creative process involves focusing on the story behind each song and ensuring that it connects with them personally. 

With their latest release, “superglue,” joan has once again proven their versatility and creativity in the pop music scene. Their sound has been described as “pop without borders,” and their approach to songwriting emphasizes relatability and accessibility.

What sets joan apart from other pop acts is their commitment to creativity and experimentation. They have never been afraid to try new things and push the boundaries of their sound. Their success with previous EPs gave them the confidence to approach the creation of their full-length album with a fresh perspective.

In the interview with Noctis Magazine, the duo talks about “superglue” and touches on the band’s approach to creating fresh and unique sounds, and how they ensure their music remains accessible to all listeners. 

Congrats on the release of your full-length debut album, superglue! How does it feel to have it out in the world?

Thank you so much! We’re so excited, it’s weird – it feels like when you finally tell someone a super juicy secret you’ve been keeping to yourself for a really long time and then a huge weight just lifts off your shoulders. glad everyone can hear our juicy secret 🙂

You’ve talked before about your desire to create accessible music that everyone can enjoy. How do you ensure your music remains relatable to all listeners?

Very good question. I think our gauge is generally pretty good, we don’t really go too deep into a song if it feels way too specific or if it only relates to us – if we want to do that, we just keep it to ourselves. our process every time though is to write the song fully and just to keep chipping away at it until we feel like we can both really relate to it, no matter if it’s specifically about our lives or not. if the story shines through and connects with us personally, we know that it’ll connect with others. 

You both attended the same university but at different times, before coming together to form joan. Can you tell us more about how that collaboration began?

Sure, Steven went to university right after I graduated and was doing a good bit of licensing music with a previous band. Once he was graduating school, he was looking to continue doing music in some way and desperately trying to not have to get a 9-5 job, so we wrote together to see if we could write some music for film and tv placements. That first day we just clicked so well and wrote “take me on” which became our first single. It was incredible, and pretty much knew from that first day that this was a band that was going to be special, not just a side project. 

Your music has been described as pop without borders. How do you approach the creative process to make sure your sound stays fresh and unique?

I love that description. our whole career, we’ve basically built our process creatively on taking in each song as they are and not worrying about the next one. that goes for production, writing, everything. We obviously have underlying things in our song that make it a joan song, and if it doesn’t feel like a joan song, we don’t put it out as such. but we have never been afraid to create a completely different palette of sonics and feeling from one song to the next. we’re very proud of that, and it made going into writing an album so much easier and put way less pressure on us trying to decide on what we wanted it to sound like because we’ve spent so much time as joan creating such a wide palette of sounds to work under, all still very much feeling true to us.

You’ve had quite a few successful EPs, but how does creating a full-length album differ from your previous work?

So basically since the beginning of joan, we’ve written songs first and fit those into projects second. When we started releasing music, we were just trying our best to make the best songs possible, and luckily they would fit together and create a nicely packaged EP sort of on their own. Sonically we found ourselves really creating a specific world sonically for about 5 or 6 songs at a time, so they easily fit into an EP together. hi & bye really was the first time we even had a concept for a body of work along the lines of, but we were writing, recording, and releasing songs every month for that project, so what was coming next was still somewhat of a mystery and challenge to fit into the EP. The album was definitely the first time we just wrote as many songs as possible first, THEN built a concept and structure of a body of work around what the songs were saying and what we wanted the album to say through those songs. I truly don’t believe we would have been equipped with that skill though before doing all of those EPs. We felt super confident going into the album from all those years of building projects together. 

How did becoming fathers in the past year shaped the making of superglue? Did it change your approach to songwriting?

Oh 100% it changed the approach of our songwriting, but I think overall it just completely shifted the way we look at life in general. I don’t know, there’s just something so powerful about having to slow down and watch another tiny human being learn the world in their own way and learn how to find their place in that world. It’s so humbling and raises so many questions about life and death and it also just puts so much weight on everything in a really beautiful way. we’ve grown so much as people as a result of having those lil babes, it’s crazy. 

Can you talk about the inspiration behind the single, “flowers”?

You know how you have people in your life where you literally spend every day with them for so long? And you’re best friends and you feel like you’ll always be around them so you just totally take your time with them for granted? And then one day you just look up and realize you haven’t talked to them in years? That’s what flowers is about. It’s sad and sucks, but it’s just part of life.

What was the writing process like for that track?

That song was actually the last song we wrote for the album, but we had been hanging onto a 15-second voice memo of that way for about a year before we started writing the album. All the voice memo had was the piano melody from the intro and the hook “why don’t we talk anymore”, but we had no idea where to take it from there, even after several tries at it. When we were just about done with the album, though, we felt like there was a gap missing in it story-wise, and flowers was the perfect filler for that gap. It glues the album together in such a lovely way. 

“loner” tackles the concept of impostor syndrome. Can you share more about what inspired the song and why it was important for you to address this issue through your music?

Totally. me and alan both grew up in arkansas — we were the artsy kids that did music and wore weird clothes and just never quite fit in anywhere. loner is about being around a ton of people but feeling completely alone. It’s also about finding another person that feels the same way you do, so it’s a weird sort of juxtaposition of not feeling alone because you found someone else that knows exactly what feeling alone feels like. 

What’s your favourite track on the new album and why?

alan: superglue for me 🙂 it’s just a song I feel found us, like we were made to make that song. it is the best song we have written thus far and may be the best we ever write. we’ll see!

steven: it changes every day but currently my favorite part of the whole album is the bridge of “simple” – it just makes me feel like I’m floating but it also feels like a cry moment, I don’t know. I just love it a lot right now. 

What can fans expect from your upcoming headline tour, and are there any particular cities you’re excited to visit?

Well, for starters, we’re trying to play the entire album on tour. we’re also bringing a band on this tour, so it will legitimately be joan like you’ve never seen before. it’ll be another level for us, the production is going to be insane, and it’ll be a moment. As far as cities — salt lake city always hits extremely hard, and new york and Nashville always feel like second-hometown shows. Little Rock is going to be our biggest hometown show yet. it’s so hard to pick, seriously every city we play has it’s own little special place in our heart and we can’t wait to be back 🙂

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Interview by Izabel Rose