Home Live Review Interview: Valerie June (New Book: Light Beams)

Interview: Valerie June (New Book: Light Beams)

Interview: Valerie June (New Book: Light Beams)
Valerie June (Photo by Renata Raksha)

Valerie June is one of the bright young stars of the Americana world, admired by folks like Bob Dylan. In addition to her music, she’s written poetry and a children’s book. Valerie was kind enough to answer a few questions for Parklife DC’s Mark Engleson, who corresponded via email. Her latest book, Light Beams, is an interactive journal.

Valerie June recently toured with Rachael Davis, Thao and Yasmin Williams. Tickets to her upcoming shows can be found here.

Mark Engleson: On a personal note, I’ve been following your music and your career since about 2017, and it’s been a pleasure to see you get increasing recognition for your work, and to see you steadily play to bigger venues and audiences.

Valerie June: Thank you for being with me for sooooo long!!!!!!!

ME: Can you talk about how this latest show came together?

VJ: Anya at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival called and asked me to curate a women’s banjo panel.  She already had Rachael Davis booked.  I brought in Thao and Yasmin.  

ME: With a show like this, do you approach it with a plan, or do you play it totally off the cuff?

VJ: We have a general flow for the run of show plan, but it’s balanced by being totally off the cuff.  A bit of both!

Yoga is a big part of your life. How do you maintain your practice on the road? Healthy habits and self-care can be hard to maintain on tour.

VJ: I go by a 10-minute rule which is an exercise in my new book, Light Beams. I tell myself I’ll just do 10 minutes of yoga or dance and then I end up doing 20-30.  I just have to break the day up into 10 minute segments of things that are healthy for me.

Buy Light Beams: A Workbook for Being Your Badass Self online via Amazon.

ME: Could you talk about how your yoga/mindfulness practices relate to/contribute to your creativity? (I find that meditation, or at least a walk outside with instrumental music, often allows me to achieve breakthroughs and insights into the stories I’m writing. I also find that getting some cardio exercise before I sit down to write helps me get in the flow.)

VJ: The greatest way yoga and mindfulness practices aid my creativity is by quieting my mind enough to listen to the world around me.  That makes space for the songs to come through. Just an afternoon of listening to birdsong can inspire so many poems and songs.

Stream Under Cover, the most recent full-length album by Valerie June, on Spotify.

ME: What have you read/listened to/watched lately that’s inspired you?

VJ: The Gay Science Book by Friedrich Nietzsche. This book is full of poems and inspirational ways of thinking.

ME: What’s something that surprises people about you?

VJ: Probably that I’m super happy with where I am in my life.  We live in a world that is always striving for more, more fame, more success, more wealth.  I’ve had times like that, but I’ve come to a place of peace.  I’m studying the small.  I continue to put things out there, but there’s a surrendering involved now.  Nothing is mine to hold and the cards will fall as they may after I’ve shared something creative.  How does a collection of small things create beautiful worlds?  It’s a path of liberation!

ME: You already have done such a wide range of projects. Are there other types of projects you haven’t worked on but want to? What do you have in your creative pipeline (assuming you can talk about it)?

VJ: I don’t talk about projects until they’re done, but I’m working on a lot 🙂


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