Josie Dunne

When most effective, music possesses an almost supernatural ability to take listeners on a vibrant journey. Listen closely to a well-constructed song, and an artist's pathway to the present comesinto laser-sharp focus. To that end, ifever onewas curiouswhere Josie Dunne standsat a givenpoint in her life, her sophisticated and ever-soulful songstold the tale. Songwriting then, for the 22-yearoldbreakout singer, has always been a matter of "deep diving into who you are as a person," she offers. Because you have to be super self-aware to figure out your sound." Having worked as a professional songwriter since age 16, and now on the cusp of releasing Late Teens Early Twenties, her soul-baring second EP for Atlantic Records, Dunne says in so manyways we have been and are continuing to playwitnesses in real time to her self-discovery. "You're hearing me grow up - the real growth spurt," the singersays of her meandering road towards finding herself and, in the process, her unique brand of soul-infected pop. On Late Teens Early Twenties, a collage of sweet-and-sticky popandtimelesssoul, "You're seeing me learn these lessons for the first time," Dunnesays of her warts-and-all storytelling that, in conjunction with anelectrifying sonic evolution, makes her one of the most thrilling, buzzed-about young pop stars of the moment. To hear Dunnetell it, Late Teens Early Twentiesis the clearest distillation of hersonic and lyrical maturation. The process of constructing To Be The Little Fish, her debut EP released last yearvia Atlantic, was a soul and sound-searching process Dunne likens to a healthy dose of trial and error. Only a teenager at the time, sheexperimented witha mélange ofsoundsand styles. Not until she wrote and recorded "Old School," that EP's centerpiece and her breakout single, did she feel she'd truly found her musical voice. "When we wrote Old School," she says of the sticky-sweet singledirectly inspired by her parents' relationship, "everythingshifted. I was like, Boom! That's the direction!"she recalls, noting how prior to its completion she'd felt compelled to write for any and every genre, but in pinning down what made her tick --fresh and funky soul music with a contemporary pop flair--she finally felt at home. And, not surprisingly, her evolution as a songwriter and artists has only continued: Dunne'snew musicis the result of endless sonictweakingandintense self-examination - a process that first began in her middle school years when she'd post cover songs to YouTube and play local bars and restaurants in her native Chicago suburbs, and was aided byher endlessly supportive family of artists. "Everyone in my family is super-creative, Dunne says. "All of my siblings do something in the arts. They're my biggest fans. I don't know how I could have done it without them. To that end, her sister, MaisyDunne,choreographed and stars in an alternative dance video for "Ohh La La," the infectious single from Late Teensshe released earlier this year."I have such a different viewpoint now," Dunnesays of the songs that comprise her bold new EP. Inaddition to opening herself up like never in her songs, the singer-songwriter injectedthemwith adiverse palette of influence that more accurately reflects her currentmusicaltastes"Listen," she continues."A shirt that I would wear as a 17-year old I'm not really trying to wear now.And it's the same with songs." It's why,Dunnesays,while her latest work undoubtedly
pays tribute toherlongtime love affair with vintage soul, it also points to anever-growing love of mainstream pop andhip-hop.Dunnepoints to "Ooh La La"as a major turning point in her artistic advancement. Its initial sparkoccurring when holed up in a hotel room on a songwriting retreat in Las Vegas ("I have all these voice memos where I was humming the melody," she recalls), the hooky jamwhich she completed with Andrew DeRoberts, one of her most trusted collaborators, was a major vote of songwriting self-confidence for Dunne. "It was just me and my brain," she saysof first dreaming up the chorus,"so it became my babyHaving first been thrown into professional songwriting rooms as an inexperienced teenager at the time making monthly trips to Nashville while on leave from high school, Dunne admits she's long been a bit insecure about her songwriting prowess. "Ooh La La" then, which since being released has notched more than 2 million listens across streaming platforms, represents a major creative leap forward forher. Dunnecalls it "the biggest personal step forward in my confidence as a writer and as an artist," but it's only one of her severalgroundbreaking new songs. There's Same,"all sly ukuleleriff andgentlefinger snaps, whichfoundDunne digging into the writing process like never before. "I really workshopped that song," she notes of the multi-month processfinessing the track with co-writers Ryan Ogren and Sarah Solovay, before it finally felt perfect. And on "Stay The Way I Left You," written with writer-producer Sam Ellis, Dunne says she discoveredhow even a song so seemingly spare and small - it started only with a simple guitar figure - can have so much emotional resonance. What Dunne is perhaps most excited about, however, is that herartistic evolutionis an ongoing one. So much ofthat, she notes, can be witnessed via her mesmerizing live show. Dunne admits at first shesuffered from terrible stage fright - "You couldprobablyliterally see my hands shaking" - butthat's hardly the case anymore. Having touredwitha wrecking crew of top-notchA-list musicaltalent, from Julia Michaels to Andy Grammar and Ben Rector, she's become a confident and charismatic must-see entertainer. "It's been really fun for me to give life to these songs," she says humbly of taking her infectious anthems from the studio to the stage, and in the process developing a fervent fan base. "It's been amazing because it's such a great challenge but also anything is possible. You just keep learning."Dunne also says that it's been entirelyself-empowering learninghowit's not onlyacceptable butadvantageous to forever be discovering freshavenues of her creative DNA."Because every timeI'dwrite a new song people would say,"How doesitcompare to the last one?" And my answer always was,"Um, Ithought I knew who I was and what I sounded like but nowI guessthisis really it" Tohonest," she continues,"I realized that asa human being growing in the world your sound and perspectiveare always going tochange. And that's a beautiful thing."Which leads backto Late Teens EarlyTwenties. Sure, Dunne admits the title pays tribute to thatcritical time period between adolescenceand adulthoodwhich, as it should happen,runs parallel to when she created her new music. But, on a larger level, she says it morespeaks to the way in whichwe should always be aiming to find out more about who we are as individuals as we do during that time period. "Everythingstems from that growth," Dunnesays. At any age, she says, "You think you're an adult and you know the world but you're still constantly discovering more about yourself and the world you live in. I wanted to take that feeling and turn it into sound."