The Musician Spotlight Series shines a light on up-and-coming bands and solo acts creating heartfelt and original work across genres, giving them an opportunity to talk about their music, their collaborators, and why they do what they do.
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June The Destroyer
“June The Destroyer, comprised of Victoria Fuller on vocals and James Karfilis on vocals and guitar, formed in 2021 amidst the pandemic. Working together as theatre artists for many years in Fuller’s indie theatre company Echo Productions, their work there ground to a halt, along with everything else. They were faced with much more time than they had had before, and after beginning to write a few songs together, decided to put their creative energy into this new project. They began recording their debut EP in early 2021 and released the eponymous June The Destroyer on June 1st, 2021. They were able to play a few shows in the summer and early fall before another wave hit, and shot their newly released music video. During the winter they focused on writing once again, and wrote, recorded, and produced “Wild Flowers” in early 2022, releasing it on February 14th. Their debut music video “June” was released on April 23rd, 2022.”
When did you know you wanted to be a musician?
We both grew up in music-heavy households. Not that our parents were musicians specifically, but music was part of every day, it was a part of life, always. Because of this, we both started writing music in our teens as a way to process and navigate all the *fun* of those years. And that then developed into our adult years, even when we were both focusing on other artistic mediums. When the pandemic hit, and those audience-driven artistic practices were put on hold, we kind of found each other, and our similar upbringing sparked a natural collaborative energy, and we had a lot of time to explore and start putting songs together. And here we are. So in a way, we’ve always sort of known.
Are you trained? How did you develop your skills?
We are both trained theatre performers, I am a heavily trained vocalist, and we’ve both been singing and performing since we were young. We both taught ourselves to play guitar and write, and like we said before, we’ve both been crafting and writing since our teenage years. I think songwriting is one of those special mediums that’s for everyone, if you want to put the time in to write a lot and hone it. You don’t need much to get started. We’re both self-taught guitar players, but we both came at it with the idea that if you can put some chords together, come up with a melody that sticks, and have something unique to say, you’ve got something to go with. Obviously it gets more complicated and edited the deeper you dive down into it, but it’s simple in its beginnings. We felt a freshness when we started writing together. It was like getting back to our roots but with fresh perspectives and ideas. Something interesting always seems to happen when you bounce an idea off of someone.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
We really bonded over loving Feist and Leonard Cohen. Going back, we both love classic rock and country and traditional songs as well. John Prine, Patsy Cline, Kate Bush, and The Carpenters were big for me, and still are. And traditional Newfoundland folk where I’m from. James grew up with a lot of Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Stones, and Wilco. We love Jeff Tweedy. We really bonded over loving Feist and Leonard Cohen. And some more contemporary artists like Nick Cave and Father John Misty. We love Billie Eilish’s new album (who doesn’t?). We both will listen to anything if it has that certain something. We’ll have new music obsessions every other week that will end up influencing at least a song or two.
How would you describe your sound?
We always begin with minimalism. It’s a big aspect to how we go about writing. Initially it was because we wanted to be able play everything live that we put on record. But we really love the idea of stripping everything to its bare essence. We want the focus to be on the songs and the writing and the intimacy of it. It’s music for the afterglow. Even with the awareness of the absolute mess of darkness and anxiety the world is in, there’s also a human connection on a much more intimate scale that fascinates and inspires us. It’s not so much that you forget the world, but that kind of intimacy makes it worth living, no matter what. So it’s really just us, our voices, the guitar, and a little extra texture here and there. We’re not very tech-y. But we love to experiment with sound in interesting ways when it suits us. It’s kind of a new adventure every time one of us starts a song. Whatever feels right we’ll go with.
Tell us about your collaborators.
We love to collaborate! Once we record everything, we will hand it off to our friends to mix and master it. They’ll hear things and bring things out that we might not necessarily. Michael Peter Olsen mixed our EP. He’s a stunningly brilliant cellist and musician, and he brought an impeccable, light touch to everything we sent him. Sasha Szlafarski and our friends at Everything Hz studio also did an amazing job on our most recent single, “Wild Flowers.” There was such an understanding and love and care in it, and we felt so comfortable bouncing ideas with them. They understood where we were coming from and put that heart and soul into the song, and it came out more dreamy and raw that we even imagined. And our friend Kyle Duffin does a lot of our additional instrumentation. He’s a pedal whiz, an awesome, savvy musician on all fronts, and dear, dear friend. The songs he plays on wouldn’t be the same without him.
Walk us through the creation process for your new video.
Kyle McDonnell, the director, and his brother Stephen, the DOP, had worked with James on a student film back when they were in school, and they’ve known each other for a while. He came to us soon after we released the EP last June and asked us if we wanted to make a video together, which was very exciting because at the time we were wondering how to go about doing just that! So we met and brainstormed a bunch in person and over zoom. We wanted the video to centre around this character, June, the song’s namesake and subject. In the song, June is the embodiment of the child of tomorrow. Children have such a just vision of what the world could be. We see so much hope in the young generation, and a fresh, fighting spirit against this world they’ve inherited. So the video finds June coming across a door. The “door of opportunity.” A door that doesn’t open for everyone, as June quickly learns. No matter what they try, it won’t budge. But if and when that door may open, what would that mean? If it only opens for some, not for all, is it worth walking through and shutting behind them? Or should the door be gotten rid of altogether?
What’s your favourite tune in your repertoire and why?
I think right now our favourite is “Wild Flowers.” It’s our newest release and it’s still so fresh and exciting to play. We wrote it in the middle of winter, when we were with our families over Christmas. We really took stock of all the time we’ve had the last few years to pause and reflect, and the knowledge that we finally had the time to consider. We spend so much time giving our energy to systems that are designed to distract us from achieving our true potential. We ignore our bodies’ health and put our limited time into systems that take but give nothing back, at the expense of our own divinity and connection to higher energies. It’s about being changed by these discoveries, and moving forward knowing what’s worth living for in this moment, no matter the time we have.
What can audiences expect from one of your live shows?
Intimacy, low light, and calm intensity. We want to bring you in, lay there with you, turn the lights down, wonder aloud about the future, the climate, and the inequities of capitalism, and then take a breath and send you off in a dream with a lover.
Where can we find your music?
You can hear us on Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp, Youtube, and our website, junethedestroyer.com. And you can follow us on Instagram @junethedestroyermusic!