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Singer-songwriter performs in pajamas

Robyn Canady

Robyn Canady

Juliana Finch live concert

Zoe Gray

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The lights are dim and ambient in the intimate room she has chosen for her stage. The audience hushes as the musician, clad only in pajamas, slippers, and her trademark bedhead, strikes her first chord. They are all in The Labyrinth, one of the cruise ship’s cozier musical venues, and they are listening to the music of indie singer-songwriter Juliana Finch.

Finch, who released her newest album, The Walls of Pompeii, last March, was one of the many talented performers on JoCoCruiseCrazy 5 this February, an annual cruise and geek festival hosted by “nerd rocker” Jonathan Coulton. However, Finch was not one of the official, paid performers on the cruise; rather, she took time on her vacation to prepare and play an hour-long set of original music, free of charge to her fellow cruise-goers.

Songwriting came more naturally to me than learning other people’s songs.”

— Finch

Finch’s music tends toward Americana and Folk Rock styles, although she had a diverse background of musical study, including singing in a choir and jazz chorus, studying theater during her teenage years, and listening to a vast variety of music. She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, a environment that has heavily influenced her music.

“When I picked up a guitar in my late teens, songwriting came more naturally to me than learning other people’s songs.” Finch said when asked what inspired her to start writing her own music, “It was just another way to express myself, and it felt really fulfilling.”

Finch, like many indie musicians, recently started using Patreon as the new platform for her music. Patreon is an online crowdfunding platform that allows fans to directly fund the artists they love through recurring payments, or payments by project.

“Patreon allows fans to have direct contact with you, and to have a real hand in making their career possible,” Finch said. “During the Renaissance, the great artists weren’t necessarily making a living from selling prints out of their wagons—they had patrons. They had people who believed in what they were doing and wanted to support them, and who wanted to be able to take some credit for the art that person was able to make because they weren’t starving in the street. […] Patreon is like a modern version of that patron system, but it’s crowd-sourced: fans can give very small amounts monthly and still make a huge impact on my career.”

Along with her two full albums and five EPs of original music, Finch also releases a series on Youtube entitled the Bedhead Music Series, in which she plays music, original and covers, in her pajamas, as soon as she wakes up. There are currently 15 installments in this series, and she continues to release videos.

On her inspiration process: “People will often hear me joke that I’m just a professional eavesdropper, but that’s not too far from the truth. I am always listening to the world around me and picking up stories. If I’m stuck for ideas, one of my favorite things to do is go for a walk. The world provides plenty of inspiration. Sometimes I’m writing from a place of intense emotion that needs to be expressed, but more often than not there’s an experience I’ve had or a story I’ve come across that leads me down a thought path which eventually becomes a song.”

Finch is an enthusiastic supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community and her local farming and food systems, as well as being a staunch feminist and an advocate for the education and empowerment of women, inspired by powerful female role models such as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Ellen Degeneres.

Finch is planning a six-week national tour for this summer, consisting mostly of house concerts in up to 20 states.

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