On a quiet afternoon in October, I visited the band Junaco at their home in Echo Park. Nestled on a lush hillside, Shahana and Joey reside in a beautiful sun-drenched space that also functions as a music studio. We chatted while photographer Nicole Mason took photos of them hanging out in their space. The day was light, breezy, and effortless -- just like Junaco’s music.
Read on to learn more.
1. What does Junaco mean? Describe your music in three words…
Junaco means rolling with the pace of life and enjoying the present. It means living and working with intention, not just running to run. Our music in three words: reminiscent, breezy, and light.
2. How do you balance + challenge one another? As partners and creatives?
Shahana: I think Joey is great at looking at the big picture, nothing is too grand for us. He's always pushing the boundaries of what we can do.
Joey: Shahana reminds me that we're not doing this for anyone else. She pushes it to be deeper, and to say something with the art.
3. What is your upcoming single like? Inspiration?
We’re releasing a reprise of a song we put out last year called, “In Between.” It was one of the first songs we ever wrote, at a time when we both felt a lack of control in our own lives - and unsure of how to get to where we wanted to be. There's something about accepting the unknown that's very comforting, almost feeling like a surrender. Each time we've played the song live, we’ve felt a relief from just saying, 'I don't know.'
Now, we're experiencing a collective feeling of uncertainty - no matter who you are and what you believe. The reprise is a reminder.
4. Shahana, what struck me about you - and made me want to know you - was your interest in Daoism. You are literally the only person who has ever genuinely shown interest in the philosophical side of Ziran. I was touched that you reached out to learn more. I try to share this Daoist side but I’m not always sure it comes off…. so my questions are…
Why do you study Daoism? What has it taught you? How do you apply Daoist principles in your daily life?
Shahana: I’ve learned a lot about Eastern philosophy from my Pakistani/Indian heritage, and from a young age I studied Chinese. I had the opportunity to go to China twice and it had a much bigger impact on me than I sometimes realize.
When I discovered Ziran, I was very drawn to it. When you shared the practice of Wu Wei, you said, “Wu Wei teaches us that by not forcing things, we accomplish what we need. We can reach goals in many different ways. There is not a straight path.” I began to read more about it, and it was putting words to the way I’ve been living my life, and strive to continue living. It has allowed me to feel comfort in action by non-action.
In my daily life, especially when writing and creating, it’s taught me to accept the flows of creation, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” I’m very inspired by nature, and I feel like Daoism has made me feel more connected to it: it’s made me feel more a part of it.
5. Ziran means, “natural, spontaneous, and free.” To push away outside influence and embrace your own authenticity. Do you relate to this in any way? How do you live Ziran? What draws you to Ziran?
Shahana: Feeling human - listening to the voice in my head and acting on it, rather than pushing it down - that is Ziran.
Joey: I think we all aspire to live that way. It’s the only way for me to live with joy. Living with spontaneity keeps me sane and inspired.
Junaco's new single, "In Between (Reprise)" drops today. Listen here.
MUSES: Junaco (@junacomusic), Shahana (@shahanajaff), Joey (@joeylarosa_)
PHOTOGRAPHY: Nicole Mason (@neekmason)
WORDS: Kelly Shanahan (@theziran)
Los Angeles, October 2020.