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Richmond student releases debut self-produced album

“Jeannie’s Garden” is a modern folk-inspired album tackling important themes like mental health and climate justice

Cleo Luna June’s ambitious debut album features her soothing vocals backed with an acoustic guitar, an ideal listen for a rainy day.  

The album was inspired by CLJ’s interest in environmental conservation, and she aims to convey hope and resiliency through her music. 

An avid environmentalist, CLJ noticed that there was a lack of discussion about the beauty of nature and she wanted to change that with the album.  

“I feel like there’s also a lot of scary facts and really jarring information that sort of has a lot of despair, and I felt like in order for people to sort of come together and have a community, we needed to bring back the beauty of everything,” she said. 

The Richmond-based singer-songwriter began working on the 10-track album two years ago at the age of 15, and it finally came to fruition as she nears the end of high school.  

“Music has always been very healing and been there for me when nothing else has. And so you know, with that huge significance and it’s been a part of my life growing up, I wanted to have something that I had a say in everything, and that it’s exactly the way I want it to be and not have it interfered with someone else’s creative vision,” said CLJ. 

From writing the songs to recording her own back-up vocals, as well as creating the album cover, the process of producing “Jeannie’s Garden” was an important learning experience for CLJ. 

“In the beginning, I had little to no experience doing anything just because I’m really young and I don’t really know that much. And so, a huge challenge I faced was definitely learning a lot of things on the go,” she said.  

The technical aspects were especially challenging, but she was able to overcome these obstacles by watching online tutorials and through the support of the local artist community. 

As CLJ celebrates the fruits of her labour, she also hopes that her accomplishments can inspire other young artists, especially young Asian women and other marginalized groups. She believes that the most important thing is to have faith that things will work out and take it one step at a time.

“People would talk about like... everyone should have a seat at the table. Honestly, sometimes you just kind of have to make your own table. Instead of just having one gigantic table, maybe you can just have a huge dining room with many different tables that many people are able to collaborate and discuss,” she added. 

CLJ plans to collaborate with different people and be more adventurous for her next album, but for now, she’s thankful for people’s help and support along the way. 

“My biggest hope and biggest dream is that [the album] brings a lot of healing and harmony and unification, just because it’s something that’s so universal. And I hope a lot of people can just find a lot of solace within my music,” she said.