Josie Dunne: An Interview
as a teenage girl in the suburbs of chicago, josie was very quick to become recognized within her town from a young age. at just her junior year of high school she was spending the first week of each month in nashville writing for artists such as jacob sartorius and kelly clarkson. now at 22, amidst the release of her first ep, ‘to be the little fish’ and her latest single, ‘mute’, josie dunne sits in her dressing room getting ready to take the stage of the thomas wolfe auditorium in asheville, north carolina opening for ben rector.
on the road with her team composed of atalanta benitz (tour manager), kate gallaher (photographer), will honaker (keys/bass player), and london (driver); josie roots a lot of inspiration from her friends, family, and personal experiences. specifically in the music video for her song, ‘old school’ we see the evolution of her parents relationship, who have been married for 29 years. from being born in the same hospital five days apart, being baptized on the same day, to walking into a college new years party as friends and leaving as a couple; marty and marcy dunne are the epitome of true love. “my dad has always taught me to do what i love.” she explains. “in the basement of the house i grew up in, he built an aviary that’s literally a zoo exhibit. it has all kinds of birds, tortoises; a million different types of animals. it’s really weird.” she laughs. “his day job is in corporate america doing sales, the whole 9-5 thing. he’s always taught me to do what you love and to use your passions to fill up a lot of your time, and if you can all of your time.” josie also accentuates the lessons her mom has taught her from a young age. “one of my mom’s greatest things is authenticity and being true to who you are and i think that has been a huge lesson especially in my music that i didn’t realize is important as it is. she always taught me to do what you love and within the song writing side of my music i always try to be super real and tell stories that are real to me or that i’ve seen my friends go through or my family go through, or whatever.”
amongst the support from her family, josie also rooted from a very supportive academic background. “my school was very understanding.” she says referencing her weekly absence once a month to travel to nashville. “i don’t think i gave myself a lot of credit back then. but i was staying up till 3am every night and staying after school everyday.” josie also highlights her academic achievements in her song, ‘school for that’. at 17, while balancing honor roll and class president she was also writing some of our favorite songs. “when i write for other people it’s really fun because you’re putting yourself in the shoes of someone who is so far off from who you really are.” she says. “when we were writing for jacob [sartorius] it was like, “okay i am not a 14 year old boy. so how do i relate to that in a way?””. she describes it as almost playing pretend. “i think that i’m more precious about the song when it’s for someone else because like, they’re only going to pick a certain amount of songs. i always think the melody has to be perfect or the lyrics have to be just right or exactly what they would say and and so it’s more of a challenge but i think a lot of the time i come out with songs that i’m more proud of because i’m more detail oriented about it and i know i don’t get to pick what makes the album so everything has to be perfect.”
she has also declared the beginning of this musical process as a defining moment of her career. “one of the biggest moments to me was when i met with warner when i was like 15. i genuinely thought that we were going to meet with like, the intern team or the secretary; i just had no idea what I was walking into. i showed up to the place with my uncle and my dad and i was all dressed up. i had a little ukulele; i was so excited and I was genuinely like, “i can’t wait! these interns are gonna think this is so fun!” she laughs. “and we go in and we ended up in literally the head honchos office, like the president of warner bro’s office and we had no idea what was going on. that was a very big day for me because i kind of realized like, as someone who is a creative you always kind of doubt, “am i good enough?” like there is so many people who want to do this but where does my voice fall in this pecking order of the best of the best people and going into that meeting and basically experiencing that, it was just like “alright, this is something that genuinely i could do” and these people saw something in me and we are going to move forward with them.” she continues to explain, “it was an aha moment of “oh this is real like this isn’t just me doing this for fun like i could make a job out of this and it has definitely kept growing from there.”
currently, on the road with ben rector and just finishing off a tour with julia michaels, josie also released her latest single, ‘mute’. The song, starting off with a panning flute intro, pulsing drums, and phenomenal dynamic changes, leading into a pause or ‘mute’ in the chorus followed by an explosion of sound, ‘mute’ basically tells the story of the awkwardness of communication within developing a relationship while still being attracted to someone. to highlight josie’s past love experiences, she was asked the story of her first date. “i don’t even know if i remember!” she says before recalling the memory of her fifth grade boyfriend, ben. “i asked him out and I remember all of our friends sat in a circle and we played truth or dare. I hugged him and I think I was definitely pretty forcive about it.” she laughs.
before kicking off the show with a setlist constructed of unreleased songs, a disco cover, and a rendition of post malone’s ‘better now’ incorporated into her song ‘cool with it’, josie was asked one more question to end the night. if someone was reading this and just discovered you, what is one thing you would want them to take away from your music? “that authenticity.” she pauses. “i have a really awesome life and i’m really lucky. i have a family that loves me and friends that i love and i think a lot of people have that but i think a lot of artists right now are kind of preaching this thing of “i’m this dark and twisted mysterious person” and i just don’t buy into that! like, i don’t have that so i can’t play that card. i just think life is pretty good like if somebody is in that mindset i hope they can listen to that music and relate to the beauty and the normalcy of normal life and then also if you don’t relate to that and you’ve had a really hard life i hope that you can listen to my music and find an escape and can have a moment of worry free happiness.”