Saudade is a collection of eleven lyrical songs by Nashville-based artist, Juni Ata. The album serves as an introduction to an artist who has been writing songs for himself for years with no intention of ever recording or releasing them. The first track to come from this LP is Philadelphia, which he speaks with The Fountain about.

TF: You have a new single out, what has the reception been like to Philadelphia?

The single Philadelphia is indicative of the rest of the album, Saudade, in that it has been fairly polarizing in its reception. There is a good deal to unpack, and plenty for the ear, brain, and soul to unravel: sweeping strings, abundant horn sections, ear worm percussion elements, soaring gospel choirs…in short, it takes a few listens to begin to take it all in. Some listeners love and embrace this process, I am told.  I believe for other listeners, much of it goes over their heads. I am glad to have made, and be involved in, a piece of music that requires the listener’s attention, imagination, and ultimately, participation.  My friend and producer Jacob Rosswog and I never intended to render something “easy to listen to”, or something that would not necessitate thinking and feeling at the most profound level. I like to think about the record like a coconut: you love it, or conversely, you don’t have the palette for it. 

TF: How would you sum the track up in one sentence? 

Philadelphia tells the story of growing up and learning to discern the difficult decisions in life regarding one’s own destiny – whether we choose rightly or otherwise, told in the context of my own personal story losing the love of my life as a young man, when she left the small mountain town of our youth to take a job in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia.

TF: Where is your favourite venue for playing live, are you looking forward to getting back on the road once safe to do so?

My favorite venue for playing live was always busking on the street with my brother and, at times, my sister.  It is a fun and organic way to travel, meet people, and explore new places all over the world. I have appreciated the downtime to be honest, during quarantine. It is the first time I have been home for any substantial amount of time in about a decade. It has also been a time of great creativity, including the birthing of the record Saudade. It is my firm belief that the album would not have seen the light of day – and perhaps I never would have returned to my pursuits as an artist – were it not for Covid.

TF: What’s next on the cards for yourself?  

I have a list of things to which I am looking forward to in my life, it helps me keep going in the dull and darker moments. I will share that list with you now: 1.paying off all debts 2. recording in Memphis 3. hiking the Highlands in Scotland one day 4. getting a new tattoo (TBD, maybe erasing some old ones) 5. buying a motorcycle one day 6. building a yurt, having a garden and an outdoor shower 7. giving True Love one more shot, and maybe having a family someday, if I meet the right person
In addition, as it pertains to this record, I am looking forward to the release of Saudade as an expectant father might anticipate the impending arrival a newborn child (August 21, just around the corner- it’s a boy!).  In the absence of the usual pre-prescribed touring that would invariably follow an album release, I am enjoying the prospect of new and unique ventures in which to get the word out to people in these strange times (these quiet times – isn’t that one of the saddest things to lose, along with our friends, family, joy, dignity, and health…losing our music??).  There are some exciting things ahead for Team Juni Ata, please stay tuned.

Photo courtesy of Joshua Black Wilkins

Saudade is out on 21st August, via Flying on Fire Records