Lemondrop releases new single 'Saturday Night'
Joni Lemons is the mastermind behind the alt pop band ‘Lemondrop.’ Beginning as a four person collective in 2019 ‘Lemondrop’ gradually grew to become Lemons personal creative outlet. The band’s debut EP ‘Shut Up Move On’ released in 2020 becoming their main body of work. However, Lemons is now launching into a new era with the release of her latest single ‘Saturday Night.’ The singer-songwriter sat down with Saturdays at Seven to talk all things ‘Lemondrop’ and new music.
Photo credit: Bradley Balsters
Hi, Joni, could you please introduce yourself and your music?
I am Joni Lemons. I front the band, artist and project called Lemondrop. It's been a thing since 2019. We started in Nashville and then I moved out to LA so now I am doing stuff here. It's in between a band in an artists project. But [Lemondrop] is definitely my vision and my idea. I've done music my whole life. My dad's side of the family is super musical. So when I was eight, and the naked Brothers Band aired, I was like ‘I have to be like that, I have to be Alex Wolff.’ So I just started doing music from then. And it's grown into what it is now.
Other than the Naked Brothers Band, who are named as your inspiration all over social media, who else are you inspired by?
That's more of a bit, but I definitely listen to them! I listened to them on the way to work today, actually.
Would you say ‘Lemondrop’ has reached ‘The Naked Brother Band’ level?
I can only hope. Everything I do is in hopes that one day Nat and Alex Wolff are going to find my music and be like, ‘Oh, this is tight.’ I could quit music if that happened. Other than that, my Holy Trinity, as I introduce it, is the Father: ‘Maroon 5’, the Son: ‘Friday Pilots Club’, and then this the Holy Spirit: Neon Trees. It just makes sense in my head. But also Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo and one of my favorites right now is Annie DiRusso. She's amazing.
You posted about the fact that ‘Lemondrop’ now has more monthly listeners than ‘The Naked Brothers Band.’ How does that feel?
It feels fake. Obviously, it's not a fair comparison. But it's funny to think that more people listened to us this month and ‘The Naked Brother Band’ freaks me out a little bit.
Lemondrop has transitioned from being a four person band to solely your project. What has that transition been like?
It was definitely really weird. All I've ever wanted to do is be in a band. All my favorite artists as a kid were bands and that was always the dream: to be the singer in a rock band. I still think that's what I'm doing. But it started off as this really tight knit group of people, but when you're in college, you don't really know who's serious about it and who's not. Even if they say they are, things come up, life happens. But once the pandemic hit, we all moved away, and we weren't able to play live shows anymore. I'd always written the music myself, and then I brought it to the boys and they would bring it to life. Then it transitioned to me doing it myself, and then maybe sending it to them and they would add whatever they wanted. But we sat down in August of 2020 when we had just had a band member leave to do his own thing. And the other boys, Max and Brandon, were like, ‘we should just make this your thing’. I was also thinking of moving to LA and so making that decision allowed me to find my band and do what I want and work with who I want. They're always going to be there if I need them, like Brandon wrote all the drums on ‘Saturday Night.’ So it's been gradual, but it's been nice. I think it gives me a lot of freedom personally to explore this project and what I want to do with it with people outside of just the boys. And the more people you work with the better the music gets.
Where did the name lemondrop come from?
My last name is Lemons. And that's my birth name: Joni Lemons. Everyone is always like, ‘is that fake?’ And I'm like, it's on my debit card, of course, it's not fake. So it came from that but everyone told me as a kid that I needed a band named ‘Lemondrop.’ For a while I kind of had a separate band that was called ‘Lemondrop Motel.’ And then someone looked me in the eye one day and was like, ‘Neutral Milk Hotel.’ And I was like, ‘You're right, it's too similar.’ So we changed it to just ‘Lemondrop.’
Did you always know this is what you wanted to do?
Kind of from the moment I gained consciousness, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. Even when I was in third grade, I remember my teacher, she was leaving at the end of that school year, she wrote a story about what our 10 year class reunion would look like. She picked out jobs for everyone, and my job was being a singer, songwriter, musician. Because that's just always what I've done. Even as a kid, at recess, I would write songs with my friends and then my mom would come to pick me up and I'd be like, ‘hold up, we have to perform this for you.’ I've always loved music. I've always loved rock music. I was raised by a dad who grew up in the 70s. So he’s always like ‘bands, bands, bands’ and nitty gritty guitar. So that's definitely had a huge influence on how I view music. After this, I'm going over to my guitar player's house, and we're gonna figure out tracks for live shows. And that's so hard for me, because my dad has always been like, ‘if you can't play it, don't write it.’ And I'm like, ‘Dad I'm not gonna have a nine piece band up on stage’
How would you describe Lemondrop’s music?
As far as what I want to do with music, ‘Saturday Night’, ‘Stay’ and ‘Strawberry Wine’ are the sound that I really want to hit. I always describe it as alt rock pop. I feel like a lot of musicians have a really hard time labeling their own music. [My music] is not as indie as Phoebe Bridgers. And we don't write in minor keys the way Paramore does. But also I hate being compared to Paramore because it's like, ‘oh, it's just a girl singer playing a guitar.’ Like, come on, get more creative! But definitely our music is in that vein. I take a lot of inspiration from like 2010s rocks, like The Strokes, The Killers and Neon Trees
How has it been cultivating this new image for ‘Lemondrop’?
I think it feels very, me. I, as a lot of people, changed a lot over the pandemic. So having this new image kind of just followed that. But that's what green is all about. Spiritually the symbolism of green is fresh grass and flowers and new beginnings. I just remember everything in my life crumbling over the pandemic and having to learn how to pick it up and how to be there for myself. And how to find myself and who I actually am versus who I am because that's just how I've always been. So that's where all the green comes in. ‘Lemondrop’ is just an extension of me. I'm obsessed with the color green right now so I made sure to shove it in everyone's face.
Photo credit: Bradley Balsters
Speaking of that extension of yourself, you utilize social media in such a personal way, what has that been like?
I still feel like I haven't found my niche there. Sometimes I want to be really ambiguous, and I don't want anyone to know my name. But now my Instagram is my finsta. I've always been a chronic oversharer on the internet. So it's just natural for me to want to be a chronic oversharer. That's how I feel like as a fan I've related to other bands is when they tweet BS all the time, and then they respond to you. I think like, that's how you build a fan base, just being yourself and being personable. Authenticity is one of my biggest values in life, which is why I feel like I personally have a really hard time with Tik Tok because you want to market and you want to brand yourself, but then I watch these videos, and I'm like, ‘this is not me, this is not authentic.’ I want the fans that I have to know me, because that's who it is.
Seeing the books that you read, and hearing you talk about Twilight is always a highlight.
You want the fans that are going to fuck with that, you know what I mean? Like if you don't care about Twilight, that's fine. But if you do care about Twilight, that's awesome.
During the pandemic you wrote a song about Twilight. Are there any other pieces of media that you have either written songs about or would like to release songs about and will the Twilight song ever see the light of day?
The Twilight song will probably never see the light of day. I wrote that because there's this podcast that I was really into called, ‘Remember Twilight.’ The hosts are amazing and right when I was becoming a really big fan of them, I was like, ‘I know what's gonna impress them. If I write a song about Twilight and then post it on the Facebook page.’ That was something unlike anything I've ever done, which is so weird because I'm such a big reader. I'm obsessed with Taylor Jenkins Reid right now. I would love to go through all of the songs in ‘Daisy Jones and The Six’ and write them because she has all the lyrics in the back of [the book]. And [Taylor Jenkins Reid] explains how they're supposed to sound so I think that would be fun. I think ‘Lemondrop’ is specifically reserved more for songs that come straight from me. But if that's something people want, one of my friends has a burner Spotify account, so I could do something along those lines.
So this year you released ‘Saturday Night’ and ‘Sour Girl’ and ‘Green.’ How has this era been for you?
It's been really cool. I was really glad to get out new music, I'm really proud of all three of the songs that have been released. It's one of those things where I've heard the songs so many times, and then I forget that people think the extent of what I can do is like the ‘Shut Up Move On’ EP. So it was really cool to push past that and show people more of who I am. It has brought a new little spark into my music.
What's going on with ‘Lemondrop’?
Right now I'm really excited about live shows. I just found a band in LA that I really vibe with, and that I really like. So we are just cracking down on making the best live show possible. And I'm really excited to start playing again because that's what I love to do. That's what I'm in it for, the live shows. I'm also going up to Chicago in a couple of weeks, and working for a couple of days with James Korath. The producer who did ‘Green’ and then he's mixed all of our other songs. But he's producing most of the next project. It's going to be called ‘The Internet.’ And I think it'll be really fun. I've heard these songs 5000 times, and I love them and I keep forgetting that other people haven't heard them yet and I can't wait for people to hear this.
Do you have an approximate release date or track number?
Approximate track number is four maybe five. Release date is probably March next year, because we're not producing any of it until next week, or in a couple of weeks.
What has been your musical process behind the EP?
I think like most musicians, it's different every time. The first one we're gonna put out is called ‘Pretty in Pixels’. 2020 during the pandemic, Julianna Joy hits me up and she and I have become really, really good friends and we write all the time. And then this random guy messaged me on Instagram. And [his account] was like a black picture, it was a private account, and had 10,000 followers. He was like, ‘Hey, do you want to write a song with me sometime?’ And I was like, ‘I'm intrigued because you're verified and you have a bunch of followers.’ I was getting really sketchy vibes so I asked Julianna to hop on the zoom with me. He was so normal, he's the most normal person ever, he just doesn't like to be on social media. But that session was when we wrote this song, the producer came up with the track behind it, and it was really cool. And then I had this whole idea of when you kill your Sims in really weird ways. There was like a joke on the internet of putting your Sim in a swimming pool, and then taking the ladder off so then they drown because they can't get out. And I was like, ‘I feel like, that's what God's doing.’ He's up there, playing Sims throwing little obstacles in the way. So that's what that song is about. [the producer] had the track and then I had this one line idea that we just built it off of. And most of it was like Julianna and I just like singing melodies to each other. And then the producer built the track. But with the title track ‘The Internet’ I was alone in my room on a Friday night, which is when I always get the weird. That's when the inspiration always strikes when I'm alone on a Friday night. But it was my high school sweetheart's birthday. And I was like, ‘he was the one, no one's ever gonna love me ever again.’ If you've ever been in love, and it doesn't work out you know that before you fall in love again, you're like, ‘that's the only [person] that will ever like me. I'm not worthy of anyone else.’ So I just wrote this song about him and this whole idea. And that was just me alone in my room with a guitar, writing a kind of sad song. And the whole thing was that I don't even like him but I was just fantasizing about moving back home to Missouri and being like, ‘I'm home.’ Like there's this episode of Glee where Finn visits Rachel in New York. And then Finn gets all weird. So he just leaves her and flies back to Ohio. But she has this whole line about how she's dreamed about making it big and then she comes back to Ohio and she's like, ‘Finn, I'm back. Let's settle down.’ That was the exact situation where I have this little dream where I make it big and I do my thing. And then I come back and like, ‘Finally I'm like, good enough for you’ But then I only miss him when I feel like shit about myself. So I just wrote that whole song and then I posted a clip of it on my Instagram story and my friend James was like, ‘Can I please produce this?’ So now it's being produced!
Other than strawberry wine, what is your favorite wine?
I always drink Rosé, which is such a white bitch thing to do. But I don't really drink wine. I'm kind of a liar, I write a lot of songs about wine and then I don't. Actually I never mixed ice cream and wine like I say in ‘Saturday Night.’ I feel bad because I've lied to everyone. It's on the bucket list though! I've shared the Snoop Dog wine. One of my favorite things to do is get a bottle of Snoop Dogg wine and sit down to dinner and share a bottle of wine with someone.
So where did the inspiration behind the ice cream on the wine come from?
Because I thought about doing it. And then I didn't actually do it because I didn't have any Prosecco. ‘Saturday Night’ was about when I had a really long day, and I was driving back home and all of my roommates were going to a show without me. It was one of those pod shows during the pandemic, so there was a set number of people that could go. And then all my other friends were like, ‘I don't really feel like doing anything tonight.’ And I was like, ‘am I just alone? It's a Saturday night. What am I supposed to do?’ And then I was like, ‘I should make an ice cream float with wine.’ And then I felt that was pathetic. The level of just adding ice cream into it felt very like rom com and I was like, this is too much.
What has been one of the most unforgettable moments in your mind of either writing or recording or performing as lemondrop?
I feel like the coolest ones are yet to come for sure. We played a show with ‘City Mouth’ a couple months back, which was awesome. I am a fan of ‘City Mouth.’ But I remember listening to their music. So having Matt Pow reach out and be like, ‘do you want to play a show?’ was amazing. I got off stage and someone came up to me and was like,’ oh my god, you guys do strawberry wine? I love that song.’ So moments like that are always really cool. I think anytime, anyone tells me that my music means something to them in any way. I have this song ‘Seven’ that was like a really, really personal song about sexual assault. I played it on my college campus and I had a girl come up to me in the hallway the next week and be like, ‘that song meant so much to me, I was going through a Title Nine case and I really needed it.’ So that has always made me cry a little bit. But then on the flip side of that, there's this couple that I'm good friends with and when they were dating, ‘Seven’ was their that they sang to each other. Which is so funny because it's not a romantic song. But the idea of my music being part of their relationship and being part of just how they communicated with each other was really cute and really sweet. So I like that the music can mean different things to different people.
So what is next for you?
Definitely live shows, we're in the middle of figuring it all out. But I definitely want to get out and play more shows. And then the next EP that I think is going to be really fun. I'm just spending a lot of my time writing and living life and soaking it all up and being a dumb 23 year old.
Thanks so much for talking to me today Joni, do you have anything else you want to say?
Just listen to Saturday night. It's my favorite song ever. That's it.
Listen to 'Saturday Night' here!