About Juanita Stein
Best known as the lead vocalist with the indie rock band Howling Bells, Juanita Stein possesses a light but smoky voice and a gift for writing songs that merge roots music and vintage pop with moody electronic elements. She launched her solo career with America in 2017.
Stein was born on June 25, 1977 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; her family moved to Sydney a few years later. She grew up in a creative household: her father was a songwriter, her mother acted on-stage and in television, and her younger brother Joel Stein was an accomplished guitarist. When Juanita was five years old, she accompanied her father to a recording session and added vocals to one of the tracks. She would later say that experience made her want to become a musician. Stein learned to play guitar, and would often stay up late learning to play her favorite songs.
While attending college, she began playing music informally with her fellow students, but she was eager to perform her own songs, and in 1999, after a brief spell in a band called Dirty Boots, she and her brother Joel formed a group of their own called Waikiki. The band was initially a trio, with Joel on guitar, Juanita on bass and vocals, and Glenn Moule on drums, and they released a five-song EP, Presents, in 2000. After the addition of guitarist Jimmy Brandon, Waikiki released an album, 2002's I'm Already Home. In 2003, Brandon left the band, and they recruited a bassist, Brendan Picchio, as Juanita moved to rhythm guitar.
By the end of 2003, Waikiki had broken up, but the four members of the band collectively relocated to London in 2004, and they decided to re-form under a new name, Howling Bells. After a copy of their demo tape made its way to producer Ken Nelson, who had previously worked with Gomez and Coldplay, he became interested in the group, and he signed on to produce their debut album. Bella Union issued their self-titled set in 2006, and reviews were strong but sales were modest. Howling Bells enjoyed greater success with their second LP, 2009's Radio Wars, which peaked at 28 on the Australian album charts and 55 in the U.K. Coldplay took Howling Bells on the road as their opening act on their tour in support of Viva la Vida. The band wrote a batch of songs while on tour, which they recorded in Las Vegas for their third LP, 2011's The Loudest Engine. In 2014, Howling Bells delivered their fourth full-length album, Heartstrings. It was their first record with bassist Gary Daines, who replaced Brendan Picchio in the lineup.
By this time, Stein had begun exploring her creative options outside the group. She lent guest vocals to recordings by Coldplay, the Sleepy Jackson, the Givegoods, and Barrie-James O'Neill, and launched a side project called Albert Albert with Kaiser Chiefs drummer Nick Hodgson. Stein began work on solo material in 2012, but it wasn't until July 2017 that her first album on her own, America, was released by the U.K. independent label Nude Records. Arriving on the same label in mid-2018, the follow-up, Until the Lights Fade, included a track she co-wrote with the Killers' Brandon Flowers ("Forgiver"). Inspired by the loss of her father, her next album, Snapshot, saw release in October 2020. It was recorded with a backing band that included her brother Joel. ~ Mark Deming
HOMETOWNMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
BORN25 June 1977