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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. 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; Stein would later say that experience made her want to become a musician.
Juanita learned to play guitar, and would often stay up late learning to play her favorite songs. While attending college, Stein 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 group 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, England in 2004, and they decided to re-form under a new name, Howling Bells. After a copy of Howling Bells' demo tape made its way to producer Ken Nelson, who had previously worked with Gomez and Coldplay, he became interested in the band, and he signed on to produce their debut album, and Bella Union issued their self-titled set in 2006. 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, Nevada for their third LP, 2011's The Loudest Engine.
In 2014, Howling Bells delivered their fourth full-length album, Heartstrings; it was their first album 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 with Kaiser Chiefs drummer Nick Hodgson, Albert Albert. In 2012, Juanita began work on a solo project, 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. ~ Mark Deming
- Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
- 25 Jun 1977
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