Stephanie June grew up on a healthy diet of her father’s records—The Beatles, The Bee Gees, Donna Summer—and basked in the sound of her mother’s voice. “Music feels like air to me, I need it,” June tells American Songwriter. “When I first heard ‘Fast Car’ by Tracey Chapman, that was pretty much it. I knew I wanted to write and sing songs people would scream-sing to in the car with the windows down.”
So at the age of eight years old, June threw herself into songwriting. She even left tape recorders scattered around her house so that she could catch inspiration whenever and wherever it struck. More recently, however, June has started to produce and release her musical revelations. On February 19 of this year, June released “They Say New York Is Dead (Acoustic)” right after contracting COVID in New York. June described the song as “intimate and raw” with a “folksy, Simon and Garfunkel feel.”
Today (June 3), June debuts another one of her songs, but this time with a more upbeat feel. “Cry Baby Cry” captures an intimate moment of catharsis that transformed into a breezy pop experience. “This song pretty much wrote itself at a vulnerable moment,” June said. “Over a day and a half, I sat with my guitar and sang my stream of consciousness. I think when you say the thing you’re scared to say, it’s freeing. And in retrospect, those are the songs people usually relate to.
“There’s power in owning our experiences,” June continued. “And there is beauty in being fully in the moment because life is unpredictable. I wrote ‘Cry Baby Cry’ as an emotional ballad, and then my producers, Daniel Alvarez and Jordan Dunn-Pilz, and I turned it into an upbeat summer bop. I think it makes for a visceral, layered experience for listeners. First, they vibe with the energy of the song. Then maybe later they uncover the deeper lyrics.”
These deeper lyrics point back to the same moments that “They Say New York Is Dead (Acoustic)” emerged from. “When I wrote this song in May of 2020, it really felt like the world as we knew it was ending,” June explained. “So I wrote If we’re all gonna die, I’d rather do it by your side, from a very honest place. It’s about having intense feelings for someone who’s probably not right for you and giving over to those feelings for a moment. It’s about the relationship you almost laugh at when it’s fully done because you wouldn’t be who you are without it.”
In addition to the premiere of “Cry Baby Cry,” June still has more of her story to tell. She aims to release a six-song EP in October, all while continuing to grow as a singer/songwriter. “It isn’t linear,” June clarified on her songwriting process. “As I’m waking up or falling asleep, a melody coupled with loose lyrics will come to me and I’ll record it. These spurts of inspiration usually feel isolated, until I realize which fragments belong where. A tapestry kind of reveals itself. It’s extremely exciting.”
Photo courtesy of Stephanie June