The Austin Chronicle

SXSW Music Interview: Valerie June

This Memphis singer is no overnight sensation

By Jim Caligiuri, March 17, 2017, Music

2013's Pushin’ Against a Stone, Valerie June's much loved, Dan Auerbach-produced breakout, made the singer appear like an overnight sensation. In reality, she'd been toiling in Memphis for a decade. This month she follows it up with an equally stunning disc.

The Order of Time finds her mixing sounds of her native South with African rhythms and transcendent atmospherics into an engrossing, yet soulful whole – all in the aftermath of her surprise entrance into the mainstream.

"It was very surprising," she admits. "When you start working on a broke-down shack, you build your garden and your dream home. You look back at it and it's like, 'Wow, that's unbelievable.' I have a couple of teachers who remind me, 'Be careful what you ask for, because it just might happen.'"

June's compositions can be dreamlike at times, so it makes sense some songs originated from that state between consciousness and sleep.

"That's just one of those things about getting the songs the way that I do," she relates. "I get them from so many different places. I've gotten them from dreams, for sure. The song 'Twine & Twisted' [from Pushin’ Against a Stone] came to me in a dream, as did the one I recorded with the Old Crow Medicine Show a couple of years ago called 'If You Love & Let Go.' Those two came to me that way.

"On the new record, 'The Front Door' came to me while I was just waking up."

She thinks for a moment then lets out a laugh.

"They all took me to the same feeling. The places the songs take me can be so magical and otherworldly in a lot ways. When I got them I was like, 'OK, you're not crazy.' It's definitely not my world. They come from another world."

Valerie June

Wed., March 15 @ Cooper’s BBQ, 10:30pm

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