To celebrate the five track giveaway we’re offering with every UK Topshop order we thought we’d try and grab some time with one of the exciting artists on our playlist. We’ve already waxed lyrical over NO CEREMONY ///’s Victoria and spent time chatting to Tom Odell, so who better than the striking and soulful Valerie June to talk music. Valerie had a flying visit to London last week to support the lovely Jake Bugg at the iTunes Festival and after hearing her folk-meets-blues-meets-gospel sound we were determined to find more out about this enigmatic songstress. Inbetween shows with Jay Leno and festival stops around the world, Miss June found sometime to answer our questions…

How did growing up in Memphis affect your taste in music? Does it still inspire it today?

I grew up between two small towns, Humboldt and Jackson, TN.  These towns are 1/12 hours from Memphis and 2 hours from Nashville.  Memphis has rock’n’roll and blues.  Nashville has country.  I was surrounded by all types of music as a child. One should ever be inspired by rich experiences of the past. 

What did you listen to growing up?

It fascinates me how many writers ask about my childhood.  Geez…that was a bit ago.  I loved Tracy Chapman the most.

Who are some artists that you admire today?

I admire the Old Crow Medicine Show.  They play the best old time music coming out of young bodies that I’ve heard.  I just love them!  I also love Johanna Newsom.  Her music is refreshing and magical.

What’s the main inspiration behind Pushin’ Against a Stone?

Making a record with Kickstarter backed funds and a real producer were definite goals for me.  I just got lucky enough to work with 3 producers on this record! 

What was it like working with Dan Auerbach?

He’s like any other down to earth guy that you might bump into at the grocery store or on the streets.  Quite the commoner…

Tell us about your favourite gig?

My favorite gig of this tour was the End of the Road Festival.  My tent was packed wall to wall.  I was performing solo.  After I finished,  five little girls ranging from 3-10 came up to tell me I was the bet cowgirl singer they’d ever heard.  They were all princesses and insisted that I sign a record to each of them separately.  Now where did they get that idea?  Children tell the truth.  When this world pushes to shape us into what it needs us to be for its own rationalization, then comes a child who sees the world as it is truly meant to be.  It was nice that those little girls felt my magic and saw me the way I see myself. I love performing for kids!

Do you have any pre-gig rituals?

My entire way of life is my pre show ritual. I try to do yoga regularly because the breathing and the stretching both aid my voice. Saunas every other day aid my voice. I take long walks everyday.  I do affirmations on my walk to train my mind towards lighter thoughts.  I’m mindful of what and when I eat.  The hardest part is balancing work and music.  I need hours of total solitude each day to settle into my creative, whimsical world. 

How would you describe your style?

An amalgamation of the best of southern roots music…aka ORGANIC MOONSHINE ROOTS MUSIC

What’s next for Valerie June?

I’m headed to LA for shows and to perform on Jay Leno’s tonight show! I’m going to take my rest at home in NYC. Then, I’m going to return to the UK and go shopping at Topshop in November! Only the best.  I live to inspire and to dream.

Shop new in and see what you might like to order to get your five free tracks. Don’t forget to download the official iTunes Festival App to get more information and watch all the shows from iTunes Festival live until the end of October using your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch or on your computer.