James Junius
Gig Seeker Pro

James Junius

Austin, TX | Established. Jan 01, 2014

Austin, TX
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Americana Shoegaze


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




The Acoustic Space, a newer venue in downtown Salt Lake City, opened its doors as part of their ongoing Summer Jam Series 2016. The July 22 lineup included headliner James Junius and supporting musicians Andrew Goldring and Anthony Peña.

With a small break in between sets, the stage setup changed from a single stool or mic stand to a keyboard, guitar and a complex custom pedalboard. Accompanied by a projector and dance lighting, James Junius created unique and whimsical songs with combinations of guitar, vocals, synthesizers and keyboard, using reverb for creative effect.
Song after song and at the end of each set, applause burst from the small but enthusiastic audience. - Slug Magazine

"James Junius' Heartland Shoegaze"

It had been a long time since I felt like a song was painting a picture for me. A song that puts on of your feet into their world just so that you can dip your town into their reality. Or maybe their description of someone else's reality. All the while you are still swimming in your own world and your mind floats while comparing the two in a comfortable musically pleasing format.

James Junius paints a picture of his surroundings in Salt Lake City, Utah with his self modified Johnson Sunburst Acoustic. He believes (and this theme is prevalent in his music) that there are stories that deserve to be heard, pockets of information and emotion that bring life to a town. There are people that are unnoticed but carry years of wisdom and experience, and like in Neil Young's "Old Man" it can be shared with the world through one song.

Junius strives to burst the stigmatic bubble around Utah with his Heartland Shoegaze. The Ex-Mormon singer songwriter believes that you should show up to a new place excited to represent where you are from. He says "take pride in where you are from, and embrace the faults". Though Junius has received the same responses most Utahans are stamped with when traveling to a new state.

Let me share a few:

How many brothers and sisters do you have?
How many moms do you have?
Wait I thought Mormons were Amish?
What was it like growing up on a farm?
Can I see your horns?
And many more.

This motivates and inspires Junius to write more music and clear the air of denial that seems to invalidate his family and friends based on where he is from. Junius' "Salt Lake Blue" is a great example of what his home town should be seen as instead of the rumor that overwhelms every traveling Utahan.

Now, let's talk about the actual sound.

Typically you would expect a singer-songwriter acoustic experience when you see Junius bring his equipment on stage, but when I heard what followed I was pleasantly surprised. I was mystified by the shoegaze influences that trickled into the set. The drum machine paired with each song brings a slight pop taste. This is not intentional but reflects Junius' attitude towards practicality which I find grounding. - Local Motive

"Exclusive: James Junius on Austin City Limits and Heartland Shoegaze"

James Junius is a budding singer/songwriter out of Ephraim, Utah. A graduate of Snow College, he recently relocated to Salt Lake City to grow his career in music. Junius won the Muse Music Songwriter Showdown competition last March, and we wrote about him extensively in our coverage of the event. His brand of straightforward, philosophical Heartland Shoegaze recently garnered him some attention in Austin, Texas. Terry Lickona, the executive producer of Austin City Limits, said this about him: “There aren’t many young singer-songwriters whose words transcend generations and geography. At twenty one, James Junius writes songs that come from the heartland but resonate with all of us. Songs about love, home, hope and hopelessness… He deserves to be seen and heard!”

Reach Provo decided it was time to check in on him and see what he’s up to. See where his music is headed and when we can expect an official album release in our interview with him below.

RP: We first saw you perform at the Muse Music Songwriter Showdown in March. Tell us a little bit about that experience. Were you nervous during preliminaries? How did it feel to win the whole thing?

JJ: First off, I wanna thank you guys for taking the time to do this. It was wonderful to get to know Muse better as well as be able to play with some great songwriters like Andrew Wiscombe and Paul Travis. I was nervous but only because I wanted to do my best and connect with the audience. I’ve found if you just try and focus on that element of your performance and are well prepped then the rest will take care of itself. It was also great to be introduced to so many people, like yourself, there too. So many new friends!

RP: [Laughter] You’re too kind, man. Too kind. So what have you been doing since that time? We know you recently relocated from Ephraim to Salt Lake City. What was the reason for the move, and how has it affected your music career?

JJ: I graduated from Snow College with the support of so many and wanted to explore some new opportunities musically. I spent June helping out my friends in VanLadyLove who just released their new EP and have been so kind. Other than that there has been a lot of traveling with friends and family in between San Francisco, Santa Monica, Denver, Austin, and Yellowstone. I have been so lucky to have so many opportunities. It’s been great. Really, as long as you show up with a good amount of positivity, a student mentality, and a desire to improve you can learn so much and become connected with so many different people that you never thought possible.

PR: Your music has been labeled “Heartland Rock.” How would you define that genre?

JJ: That genre of music often includes Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Bob Seeger. It deals with themes like rural decline, limited opportunity, isolation, and life in forgotten places. I take a lot lyrically from those artists but you still see hints of it today in the likes of The War On Drug’s Lost In The Dream and Ryan Adam’s new self titled release being some of my favorites. I also love expansive elements of 80s and 90s bands like Cocteau Twins, Ride, and The Jesus and Mary Chain and combining them into what I call Heartland Shoegaze. Some other favorites are Bill Fay and Cloud Cult. I love it because it realistically looks at how hard life can be and is for most people. It has the power to be inclusive of marginalized viewpoints and has elements of Folk Rock and Country music that can help to change or examine certain issues within our society. It can definitely be hokey sometimes but sometimes that lack of pretension is refreshing. Whoot! Dad rock!


When you combine that with the Ethereal element of Shoegaze music it becomes something else that I really like.

RP: Do you feel like it fits what you’re after?

JJ: Yes I do. In the words of Little Richard. “Country is just the White Man’s Blues” and that being who I am it’s the genre of music I feel like is authentic to my cultural, ethnic, and economic background. I’ve lived in Utah most of my life and it’s a fairly rural place. Especially being ex-Mormon, there have been some rough patches. I want to be able to take the stories I’ve seen here in Utah and contextualize them for a broader audience.

RP: You recently took a trip to Austin and got some praise from the executive producer of Austin City Limits, Terry Lickona. How did you get involved with Terry? How did that all come about?

JJ: Terry and I met in the winter of 2015 over a Facebook post about about a canteen. We just started a friendship and ended up talking on a regular basis. He was kind enough to show an interest in what I was recording and the message that I wanted to put out. More than that we’ve become best friends and he is one of the best mentors and people I ever could have asked for in my life and we’ve been able to share a lot of memories. I’ve been down there several times to visit and have been very lucky to meet so many other good friends down there. I also just had my first performance down there as well and look forward to being able to visit all of them again.

RP: What was your experience like overall with Austin City Limits?

JJ: It’s been unreal. I never thought in a million years that I would be able to do some of the things I’ve done. The first time I was down there, I was able to meet and talk with James Taylor and be backstage at ACL Fest seeing everyone from Disclosure, Asleep At The Wheel, Kurt Vile, and Tame Impala. I also got to see Willie Nelson on New Year’s Eve in the Moody Theater and spend some time hiking around Austin. Everyone has been so kind and supportive to me on the ACL staff and I look forward to working with them more so. Also the food there is amazing. Lick’s has the best Ice Cream.

RP: I’ll have to pick some up if I’m ever stopping through Austin. [Laughter] You’re playing at The Acoustic Space in Salt Lake City this Friday. Have you played there before?

JJ: No, I haven’t played there yet. From everything I’ve heard it’s a great place to see really close and intimate shows which is exactly the type of concert I love to attend and hope that people come and see.

RP: What’s it like to show up to a venue you’ve never played at before and play there for the first time? How does it feel? How do you hope people feel when they are at one of your shows?

JJ: At this point I’ve played some pretty bizarre or random venues and the best that you can do is have your material prepped, and even if it’s an audience of one person, play your best. I just hope that people are able to come away from a gig feeling a little bit more connected to those around them and knowing that they are not alone in their struggles and that we all could be a bit kinder to each other. Andrew [Goldring] and Anthony [Pena] are going to be amazing so that’s what I am going to be there for.

RP: What are your plans for the future? Is there a possibility of a full length studio album?

JJ: Terry and I are planning on recording an EP down in Austin this September and seeing where exactly that takes us and what the next step would be. I would like to release a small mixtape of songs produced here locally but we shall see what exactly happens timeline wise and whatnot. We are also in the process of getting a few guest artists on the record.

RP: What do you hope to accomplish by the end of the year?

JJ: I want to get that EP recorded and start getting a lot of the infrastructure in place to start distributing my music to a larger audience. I’d love to be able to flesh out the sound a bit more with more musicians and get a mug or lighter with my face on it [Laughter].

RP: We’ve run into you a few times at Rooftop Concert Series and at a few other concerts in Downtown Provo. What is your impression of Provo and its music scene? What do you appreciate about it? Where would you like to see it go in the future?

JJ: There are a lot of very talented and kind hearted people within the Provo music scene who want to see it flourish and develop more and are willing to give those just starting out a chance. That being said, I do think there needs to be more space creating a supportive environment for people to experiment with different genres and mediums of musical expression that are not traditionally accepted in Utah Valley. I see Muse Music being the venue to hold that torch. I’d like to thank them for that.

RP: Is there anything you wish to tell fans before we conclude? New listeners?

JJ: The world always seems to have a shortage of kind, loving people, and if you can be that within your social group or community then you are making difference. There will always be scary things going on, but just look for the joy you can cause others and the service you can give because overall there is so much more good in the world if you will only look for it. I am a “Solo Artist,” but that doesn’t mean that I’ve gotten to where I am alone. There have been countless others who have given me a helping hand when I didn’t deserve it. Just be nice, work hard, and you’ll be amazed at how many people come out of the woodwork to help you serve other people. Because I have been given much, I too must give. - Reach Provo


Before heading off to Austin, Texas, to record his first official debut with Austin City Limits and GRAMMYs producer, Terry Lickona, James Junius performed in The Banyan Collective's TanVan opening Season 2 of Van Sessions. James told us he's excited to bring "Utah-ness" to the Austin scene. He also plans to meet up with previous Ogdenite, Sammy Brue soon in Nashville.

James' work combines subtle honesty, ambient inspiration, and religious and social commentary. Driven from his experience working two summers in Glacier National Park contrasted with living in distressed housing in Ephraim, Utah, James is looking forward to his move to Austin in pursuit of his dreams. - The Banyan Collective


Still working on that hot first release.



"There aren't many young singer-songwriters whose words transcend generations and geography. At 22, James Junius writes songs that come from the heartland but resonate with all of us. Songs about love, home, hope and hopelessness - eternal and universal emotions never felt more strongly than today. James has a voice that can soothe, or rattle your bones. He deserves to be seen and heard!"  

- Terry Lickona 

Executive producer, Austin City Limits 

(the longest-running music show on American television)


Basking in the amber light of Salt Lake City, 22-year-old James Junius has lived as a singer-songwriter since first picking up a guitar at the age of 11. Born and raised in a Mormon household, James found his spirituality beyond the usual formal religion in unconventional ways through the likes of The Who, James Taylor and Bill Fay. His music today melds Heartland Rock, Shoegaze and Ambient music in an attempt to portray the world as he sees it in the wild, frail west and the people he has met in various late night conversations out under the firmament. 

He has begun the next chapter in his musical journey by relocating to Austin, Texas, recording his debut album, partnering with the long-time executive producer of television's Austin City Limits, and preparing to showcase his new music at SXSW in March, 2017. 

Band Members