Born in Spain but based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Cece June is an independent singer-songwriter who strives to create songs for feelings one has yet to discover. Her new EP 'Pieces', created in the nostalgia of moving across the world, blends deep, sincere lyrics and modern pop production to create a unique sound that caught our ear this month.
We sat down with Cece this month to learn more about the inspirations behind her new EP, her creative process, and what being an independent musician means to her.
Can you introduce us to your artistic project as Cece June?
Cece June was born circa 2017 when Cecilia Duran, at 16, starts uploading videos to Instagram and Youtube covering songs, without expectations but with a lot of eagerness. It all started as a simple way to share songs that I liked at the time and to welcome anyone who wanted to listen.
In 2019 I started working with a producer from Barcelona with the idea of producing one of my original songs. We worked out really well and ended up recording a 5 song EP, all composed and written by me. At 17 years old, you could say I was going through a "coming of age" moment, fresh out of high school and getting ready to move halfway around the world to Michigan to start a double major in politics and art history.
Music has always been my form of expression, and I find inspiration in everything and in nothing: in the nature of the Mediterranean and the intimacy of my bedroom, capturing my feelings in heartfelt melodies and sincere lyrics.
As an art lover, and having grown up surrounded by it, since my parents are gallery owners, I was very clear that I wanted to take art by the hand in everything I did with my artistic project. Thus, in the covers of my singles, as well as the cover of the EP "Pieces", I had the honor of collaborating with wonderful artists, fusing my music with paintings, to create something cultural, visual, and emotionally enriching.
What can you tell us about your new EP 'Pieces'? What music was floating around in your day-to-day life at the time of composing it?
"Pieces", as the title indicates, are little pieces of me. Without correlation from track to track, but being a sum of important moments for me, this album is a look back at the last three years of my life. It deals with themes of friendship and heartbreak, of loneliness and fear of change, of nostalgia for what will never be the same. It is composed of 5 songs that I wrote from December 2018 to May 2019, and that two years later, I still feel deeply.
A child of folk-rock and alternative pop, at the time of composing "Pieces" I had Bon Iver, Daughter, and Lorde on repeat mode. However, I feel that there is no genre or artist whose music has permeated mine enough to consider myself their disciple. I'd like to think that I'm on my way, even though I'm still figuring out what kind of sound I want to produce, to creating something special and unique.
I tend to write sad songs even though I am an immensely happy person. I often say that there is no poet who writes when he is happy, because in those moments we are too busy enjoying the now.
How does your creative process usually go?
I am very fortunate to be able to draw inspiration from everything and more. I don't have to experience something personally to be able to write about it. In fact, most of the songs I've composed have been the result of observations, of putting myself in other people's shoes, of letting a book inspire me, a phrase I read in the subway, a conversation I have with a stranger... Obviously, the ones I feel most connected to are the ones I've written as a result of my feelings and thoughts, but I don't have to be going through something to compose.
When I have an idea, however minimal it may be, I pick up my guitar, choose three or four chords and let the words come out. None of them are usually premeditated, that is to say, I don't write the lyrics and then add the melody, but both come out simultaneously. Since I am self-taught and do not have great knowledge of the musical language, I record myself with a mobile application and once I have something that I like minimally, I transcribe the lyrics that came out and play the melody several more times, until it stays in my mental file of original songs.
With Raul Juan, the producer of "Pieces", it was fantastic, because from the demos that I composed with just guitar/piano and voice, came out rounded and complete songs, with instruments that I could not have imagined at the time I was writing the song. That's the wonderful thing about collaborating with other artists, that a great project can come from a small idea.
"Pieces" will be your fourth release through iMusician. How has iMusician helped you in your career?
When the time was approaching to release my first single I had several distribution platforms in mind. I did a preliminary study comparing all of them and asked friends who are also going independent. Finally I chose IMusician because it was the one that was recommended to me the most. I am very happy with the service that iMusician offers, it is clear and easy to navigate the platform, and iMusician makes launching your release easy and clear.
What are you working on right now? What projects await you in 2021?
2020 was a year in which I started to be clear about who I am and what kind of image I want to give. It was getting to be at a point of harmony with myself and seeing that that same image was the one I wanted to give. I couldn't be singing sincere and honest lyrics without being myself, it seemed hypocritical. It has taken me time to know how to approach the project, especially considering that it was recorded in 2019 and is coming out two years later. Those two years, however, have been crucial, and I wouldn't change how I've done it for the world.
"Pieces" is the first project. Five songs out of a repertoire of hundreds, and I can't wait to keep writing, composing, and recording. What I'm composing lately is taking a different direction, it's not a sudden change, but rather growth. I think it's obvious that I'm not the same person I was two years ago, and a lot has happened since then. However, I release this first project as a letter of introduction to the world, a whim, a trailer for something that I hope will last for many many years to come. And I thirst for more because from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep, I exist with and thanks to music.
I'll let "Pieces" breathe for a while while I work on recording new songs, and who knows, maybe this 2021 will have more than 5 songs.
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