Acoostic Sessions: Live musical performances in and around Montreal, showcasing the cavalcade of talented musicians the city has to offer.
Juliana and Jesse: What You Should Know
Juliana Just Costa and her brother Jesse James Just Costa have always had a close chemistry. Being raised between Montreal and Mexico will do that to siblings. But what they realized in early 2014 was that they also had a musical chemistry worth pursuing. Both had other musical projects going on (Juliana as a singer-songwriter, Jesse as frontman of rock/metal band Turning Tides) but after beginning writing songs together, they didn’t want to stop. And Juliana & Jesse was born.
Primarily a duo, Juliana & Jesse are often accompanied by a band. They’ve had numerous shows that required a variety of instruments, and so they began to bring in different musicians, working consistently with bassist Sam Robinson and Jessy James O’Neill (referred to affectionately as ‘O’Neill’) on percussion. The brother and sister duo have played a variety of gigs all over Québec and Ontario with Sam and O’Neill, while collaborating with them creatively as well. Sam and O’Neill have been integral to the duo of Juliana & Jesse.
Touching on a number of genres and being genuine lovers of all music, Juliana & Jesse are definitely rooted in folk and folk-rock. They also flirt with blues and country, but what sets them apart is a Latin flare within songs, coming from their Latin origins.
And that’s the vibe they gave off when choosing to film their Acoostic Session on Montreal’s crowded STM metro at 10am…
Your debut LP, “In Time”, drops September 22. Obviously you guys are excited, but what other emotions are you feeling right now?
Juliana: After two years, we’re really looking forward to finally sharing this album with our family and with our friends. It’s excitement and anticipation, but it’ll also be a relief; a real kind of release. The album is rightly named In Time because it has been a long time coming. We can’t wait for people to react to these songs, and we hope they make people feel something. We’re super excited to share these songs, but also can’t wait to start making the next album.
Jesse: It’s a coming of age concept that touches on the ups and downs of growing up in the world we live in today. We’ve put our hearts into these songs and feel everyone will have something they can connect with, relate to, when listening to it.
Sam: I’m feeling a sense of closure approaching. Kind of like a huge sense of relief.
O’Neill: Definitely a long time coming, a closer on what was a hell of a ride to get to September 22.
Take us through the recording process. Highs/lows? How long did it take? Anything about it surprise you, pleasantly or otherwise?
Juliana: Jesse and I were thrilled to fly out to Vancouver to record with a long-time family friend Sid Perez. He actually played and recorded music with our parents, and we just learnt so much from him. He had a great vision for the album, and he just helped us bring it to life. Tracking in a studio is definitely different from performing live, but our first studio experiences really showed us how to pull apart each layer and listen to the detail. The overall experience was definitely a crash course in what goes into a professionally recorded album. Hanging out in beautiful British Columbia while recording the album also added its own flavour to recording as well.
We actually recorded the album within two weeks, and Sid recorded a number of parts on the album. It was a short time to record in and we were lucky that, with Sid’s help, we were able to get it done.
How do the tracks you chose to perform for The Acoostic Sessions fit into the Juliana & Jesse timeline? Why those songs?
Juliana: “Railway”, other than the fact that we were playing on a moving train, felt like a fitting song for our Acoostic Session. It is the lead single off our upcoming album, and it is a song about going out and chasing your dreams. Our video for this song will be out on September 20. It’s our first official video, and we think the theme of this song is a great introduction to the album, and to Juliana & Jesse as a duo.
“Ain’t Got Time”, another single off the album, just swings and it’s a lot of fun, even though there’s a deeper meaning tucked in there about the importance of time. We played our Acoostic Session in the morning, and so we were trying to get people to start their day off right.
Why the STM metro? Does it hold any special significance to you personally or as a band?
Jesse: We’ve been busking in the Montreal metro system for quite some time now, and from the people we’ve met to the opportunities we’ve encountered from doing so, it seemed appropriate to have our Acoostic Session there. It was our bassist Sam’s idea to pull this kind of stunt, but we’ve definitely got a soft spot for Montreal’s underground, and we feel it has really helped shaped us as artists.
Sam: It’s something familiar to us. We’re broke. We metro everywhere. I personally always take it. And I’ve seen countless NY or Toronto metro stunts and thought, why not here? It was definitely intimate AF and exciting. Especially since we had that feeling of “oh shit, will we get caught/warned/in trouble?” And that made me feel like it gave us a kind of edge we don’t always see in these musical projects.
O’Neill: STM metro is one of those things that Montreal has better than most other cities, and so are we. (Laughing) So, it was fitting. Personally also, I find the metro to be a true Montreal experience, it really enables people to experience the city as a whole in a super-efficient way. I think music could also be part of that.
How did you feel performing on a crowded metro? Did you have any apprehensions going in?
Juliana: I was hoping the metro would be packed! Of course, we were worried about getting a fine (because we don’t got money to pay for that!) but even if we were to get in trouble, I just hoped we would catch it on video! We just wanted to do something special and get people’s days started off right. Anything to make people smile.
Jesse: The first thing on my mind was whether we would get fined by the STM. Either way, it would have made for a great concept of a video, being underground (literally) musicians. Just how crowded the trains were made it a balancing act as much of a performance but overall the entire thing went seamlessly!
O’Neill: The performance was cool, seeing people’s faces go from ”eurh, what are those idiots going to ask me to give them” to seeing that we lightened their morning was a great experience. Plus, add the fact that we aren’t allowed to do it. (Laughing) It’s pretty badass.
What does the future hold for Juliana + Jesse?
Juliana: The release of In Time will be our next step. We will get it out there as much as we can over the next months, with the CD, the music videos we have been releasing, and the shows we will be playing in Québec and Ontario. We’re excited to continue to develop our live show and just keep on playing together. We just want to play music and travel!
Jesse: As of September 22, we will finally have our album out and will be running with it, playing shows in the Québec and Ontario regions. We’re hoping to expand our live experience and continue to grow as artists while getting our music out to people.
Words – Zac Strevens
Camera, Audio, Editing, Direction – Zac Strevens