Posted May 23, 2020 by Jeff in Tunes

Josie Dunne Embraces Quarantine Challenges as She Promotes New EP

Josie Dunn photo by Bree Fish
Josie Dunn photo by Bree Fish

A talented singer-songwriter Josie Dunne, who started writing her own music and performing at Chicago-are restaurants and bars at an early age, has toured with the likes of Julia Michaels, Ben Rector and Andy Grammer. Her new EP, Late Teens/Early Twenties, opens with the infectious pop number “Ooh La La” and includes other radio friendly songs such as “Same” and “Lost,” shows off her songwriting chops.

Dunne even managed to recently film a music video for “Lost” while practicing social distancing.

In a recent group Zoom call with several reporters, she performed some of the EP’s songs and answered questions from her Nashville home.

You’ve said Motown and classic pop music influenced your songwriting. Can you be specific about the artists and albums that had a major impact? 
My parents really raised me – especially my mom, she’s a big Stevie Wonder fan and because of that I became a really big Stevie Wonder fan. He’s really probably my favorite artist of all time. But in addition to him, I grew up on all the different Motown stuff. Etta James is one of my favorites, Aretha obviously, Ray Charles, and – I mean the list goes on and on and on – The Supremes . . . I just love that music. Old Motown and R&B soul, the way that the feel what they sing, that’s always what I try to get out of my songs too. 

It’s not too often that an artist has a music video for every song on their project, but you do. Which was the most fun for you to film and why? 
Each one was fun in a different way! I think probably though my favorite from this project, ironically, is the first one that we shot for this project- which was “Mute.” As soon as I wrote the song, I knew what I wanted the music video to be. Since the song’s called “Mute,” I thought it would be funny to do where it’s like a couple flipping through TV channels, and I’m all the different people in the channels. I’m the “As Seen On TV” salesman, and I was the Bachelorette, and I was the newscaster. So that was a lot of fun because I got to wear wigs and big weird makeup and overact and you know, it was goofy. I think that was my favorite one, but each one has been really cool. And I feel really lucky that we’ve secured this team of people where each music video feels really comfortable, safe and fun. 

Were you going for a certain theme when you were making Late Teens/Early Twenties? If yes, which song is the most personal to you on this collection. 
I tried to do a theme where I wanted it to all feel young, nostalgic, and happy. I think the period of time from like 18 to 23 is so fun. It’s like this in-between period where you don’t really have responsibilities, but you think you do. I think I tried to take that and put it into music – keep it fun, keep it light. At the end of the day, I think the track that feels most personal to me and that I think really encapsulates the whole EP is “Lost.” I wrote it really challenging myself to not just go with the line that rhymed. Like sit and really make sure that every single thing I said, every single word, was exactly how I felt in that moment in my room. I think because of that, that song — it’s hard to beat that from a personal perspective. It just hits home in a different way than the other songs do.

What’s a song you love so much you wish you’d written it? 
Oh man! I’m such a big fan of music that there’s a million answers I could say to this. My number one answer is “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. I just LOVE that song, it’s so good. Especially, I live in Nashville now, so Dolly is the queen. That’s my number one answer, but there’s a lot of songs. A lot of songs that came out today that I wish I wrote, I love the new Justin Bieber and Ariana track too! 

I feel like you’re a big believer in manifestation. Is there an artist that you dream about collaborating with in the future? 
First of all, love the beginning of that question too because I am a big believer in manifestation . . . If I could pick any artist just to put it out there to work with, it would definitely be Stevie Wonder. And if it wasn’t a musical artist, my other answer for that would be — I’m super into Wes Anderson. I love Wes Anderson, a hobby of mine is doing film photography and then watching movies all the time. I love movies. He’s probably my favorite director ever so if I could do a collaboration with him, as soon as it was over I would just die a happy death! 

How are you going to continue staying innovative and active as an artist during this pandemic?
I’ve been trying to just keep myself on a schedule to hold myself accountable cause it makes me feel better if I can walk out of the day and be like, “Ok, I accomplished this and this.” Right before everything kind of started going down, I bought enough studio gear to get by. So I’ve been learning Pro Tools and trying to get better at that. I think I’ve always wanted to be able to do my own production and make my own tracks and I just always have used the excuse of “I don’t have the time to learn it.” So now’s been the perfect time for me to dive into trying to learn how to record my own vocals, record my own tracks. A lot of times I have track ideas with the songs that I’ve put out. I’ll be right behind the producer kind of barking in his ear – I’m a real joy to work with! – but it’s been a really, really fun challenge for me and super rewarding to be able to do it myself.

What has life been like for you in quarantine, and how has it affected your EP and touring plans? 
I feel like my family and I are all healthy and safe, I have a roof over my head and food in the fridge, so I can’t really complain too much. I’m on solid ground in terms of all the essential stuff, so I feel bad complaining. It is what it is [and] it’s tricky day by day! I don’t think I could have gotten “Lost” (the song) without being in quarantine, so I’m grateful for the rough patches too because you just learn and grow from them. I know that I’m gonna come out of this stronger. You know how it is! It’s not ideal, and it’s been a huge bummer too – I know a lot of artists don’t really like being on the road, but I love being on the road. I think playing shows is maybe my favorite piece of the whole puzzle, so it’s been really hard to step away from doing that. Especially to step away from being with my friends I’ve been on the road with, you know, my tour manager, the people I play with . . . They’ve become some of my best friends, so being away from them has also been hard. 

Photo by Bree Fish


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].