When I found out that we’d be interviewing June’s Diary, the first thing I did was memorize their names. I strategically correlated each girl’s name with her respective hairstyle in an attempt to not only impress them, but really impress them. Of course, once we met at CODA Lounge, one of Philly’s premiere music venues, which would eventually be filled with hundreds of fans for the opening night of their first tour, everything I had studied and prepared for left my memory. The girls were wrapping up another interview and all I could hear was music. They were singing acapella and it was one of the most beautifully harmonious things I’d heard in a while. Hearing them sing brought back a 90’s nostalgia, like when I first heard Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby” or K-Ci and JoJo’s “All My Life”. June’s Diary can really sing. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from the interview and for the first time in a long while I was pretty nervous. You know, the whole Kelly Rowland and Frank Gatson connection and then the bi-proxy Beyonce connection. It’s nerve wrecking. Once we greeted, the nerves left and I was left chatting with five of the most beautiful women in the industry and they were all so pleasant and warm. I could tell they’d been interviewing all day, so I knew that my interview, being the last, had to not be a snooze.
The ladies of June’s Diary found their way into the spotlight on Kelly Rowland’s “Chasing Destiny,” a docuseries featured on BET earlier this year. All from different states, the girls auditioned, performed, collaborated and ultimately sung their way into what has been dubbed as ‘one of the best girl groups of all time’ by Frank Gatson, an industry legend and choreographer, who serves as a mentor and creative director to the girls. Their debut single “L.A.N.C.E.” has become a fan favorite, leaving everyone highly anticipating their full length project.Once we began our conversation, it was clear to me why these girls were chosen. ‘Chasing Destiny’? That was so earlier this year, June’s Diary has found destiny…
Here is our conversation.
Mike Sanford: How are you ladies doing today?
June’s Diary: Good, How are you?
Mike Sanford: I’m doing great and we are really excited to have this opportunity to chat with you all today! We’ve been following your journey since “Chasing Destiny,” so it’s great to see you all touring!
June’s Diary: Thank you!
Mike Sanford: So, my first question and anyone can answer! What made “Chasing Destiny” different from other “reality shows”?
Gabby: I think for one, and a lot of people know this already, producers tell people what to do on reality shows and maybe set up situations and stuff like that. Nothing was like that on Chasing Destiny. Everything was organic, as Frank and Kelly to say. Everything that happened was very real, it just so happened to be on camera.
Brie: And it was a docu-series, so they were literally just there!
Gabby: And there was no formula to it either. Sometimes when there is a competition with an elimination process, it’s kind of like “every Thursday, we’ll eliminate someone!” But this was so arbitrary and it happened just out of no where.
Mike Sanford: So, you never knew when they’d be doing anything?
Ashly: Elimination night was so unexpected! We all thought we were going to go back to the hotel, chill and go to bed. They were like, “Come down to the sportsman lodge and let’s get this going!” We were like, “Oh, you’re doing eliminations right now? You’re going to make the group right now?”
Gabby: There was maybe nine or ten girls left and we thought it would dwindle down one at a time until the group was formed, but no.
Kristal: And we had no idea how many people would be in the group, so we didn’t know if it would go to three or four…
Mike Sanford: So, I guess that did add to the organic aspect of the show and why we believe you guys so much.
June’s Diary: You should! [Laughs]
Mike Sanford: I think it’s very important and I think that’s why. Because of the organic nature of the show, and how you guys were formed. In that same vain, why do you ladies think girl groups are necessary to pop culture?
Brie: Girls need a representation of themselves. Someone that they can relate to, not just by skin color, but a girl they can relate to in personality and things that they’re gone through or things that they’re singing about. It’s so necessary. I think we need women in every position in the world as role models for girls, just like we need men for boys.
Shyann: I think it’s necessary to show women that we can stand together! We don’t have to fight and have to be against each other. We can stand as one, because when we stand together we’re more powerful!
Gabby: And some girls don’t have a womanly figure in their lives and they look to us for that and it’s flattering!
Ashly: I feel like we compete so much in our regular lives! But being in a girl group or any group lets people know that unity is so important! United we stand divided we fall and I think that’s very indicative of what’s going on right now. Not just with the Black Lives Matter campaign, but also the election. Being in unity is very, very important right now because America is almost in a state of crisis, so us being together gives us comfort knowing that we’re able to put that image out there into the media.
Mike Sanford: As a group what is one of your favorite songs together?
Shyann: We make up songs!
Ashly: Elevator music is the best! We’ll get into the elevator and someone will call something out and we’ll just start singing! [Laughs]
**The girls start harmoniously and spontaneously start singing “These shoes gotta’ come off, come off, come off!”
Mike Sanford: What is one of the biggest struggles that most group face?
Kristal: I would say, they don’t know how to talk to each other.
Mike Sanford: Communication!
Brie: But no matter how good we communicate, we still have different opinions. So, it’s like trying to compromise and making sure everyone’s voice is hard. It’s hard and it’s not super easy, but we do it.
Kristal: And I think that’s why groups avoid it because it’s uncomfortable. But, we made a pact in the beginning that no matter how uncomfortable it is, we’re just going to keep it real with each other and that’s going to keep us together.
Mike Sanford: And that’s what we want to see! Longevity!
Shyann: Communication, Consideration and Commitment! That’s from Frank Gatson.
Mike Sanford: Frank Gatson, the legend! How is it working with him?
Shyann: Frank is real, that’s it!
Gabby: He’s a character builder! He builds character and he builds performers!
Kristal: Frank will put you in the fire before the fire gets to you, just so you can understand how it feels.
Ashly: He was telling us a story about his very first gig, which was Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”. He told us how they made them go on the floor and do the bending thing. And you know just listening to someone who has worked with someone so historical; it’s like how can you not feel like you have the best at your feet! We respect him so much and we are blessed to really learn from him.
Mike Sanford: And working with Kelly Rowland? I’ve never met her personally, but she just seems to be so gracious and a wealth of knowledge about music and the industry.
Gabby: They’re like mama and papa. Bad cop and good cop! [Laughs]
Mike Sanford: That’s a really good analogy.
Kristal: She definitely gives us everything that we need. Because she’s been through it and she’s experienced it, she definitely gives us the info. She’s transparent about giving us the information we need!
Mike Sanford: Absolutely! So, tell me about your song “LA.N.C.E”. Was it inspired by anyone’s situation in particular?
Gabby: I think it’s because we heard so many male artists with songs with female names, we wanted male name in the song.
Shyann: Like, ‘Tyrone’! This is our ‘Tyrone’!
Mike Sanford: Ah! Okay! So, in thinking about your album can we expect the same sound? With the R&B chords and cool harmonies?
Shyann: We’re going to be sangin’!
Gabby: You can always expect harmonies and R&B chords.
Ashly: It’s R&B! Rhythm and Blues to the T!
Gabby: We’re still trying to figure out how to make one, unified June’s Diary sound within R&B though because we each bring something different to the table.
Shyann: We want to make it universal, but we want to make it different too!
Mike Sanford: I’d like to ask what do you ladies ‘take heed’ to? In life and in music.
Gabby: Kind of doing whatever makes you happy, if that makes sense. And living life for the sake of living life and remembering to stay out of your own way, and just live! That’s what I take heed to. I like to have fun and I only have one life and I know, so I want to live it.
Brie: For me, seeing everything my family went through with trying to make it, then making it and losing it, gives me the drive to work hard and just go get it and grind.
Ashly: I take heed to those little people out there that want to be just like us because I was that little girl once before that didn’t believe in myself. I take heed to what image I put out there so that they know that anything is possible!
Shyann: Life is a musical journey for me and everyone listens to and loves some type of music whether it’s rock or pop or R&B and I love music, so that’s what I take heed to!
Kristal: Just living life and doing what you want to do! I have a lot of people ask, “Well, how do you do music and how do you do this and that?” I just believed I could do and I went out there and did it. It’s really that simple. If you wake up a singer and you go to bed a singer, you’re a singer! So just go do it! That’s what I live off of!
Shyann: You don’t have to be simple minded either and you don’t have to do what everyone else wants you to do! Just do what you love and love what you do!
Gabby: Be yourself! I know that sounds so cliche and so cheesy, but be yourself wholeheartedly and unapologetically!
Check out the music video for June’s Diary Hit Debut Single, “L.A.N.C.E” and be sure to purchase the single on all digital outlets!
Stay Connected with June’s Diary!
Official Website: www.junesdiary.com
All Photos © 2016 by Sasha Samsonova