J.R. knows who she is and what she wants.
Julianna Riolino, AKA J.R., hails from Ontario, Canada and creates music that reflects her love of old-school country musicians like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline and her passion for punk pioneers like The Buzzcocks and Ramones.
Her lyrics, however, are inspired by relationships with the wrong people.
“[‘Be My Man’] was inspired by a total loser, to be honest—sounds pretty cliché, but it’s true,” she tells BTRtoday about the debut song. “If you don’t love me for who I am, flaws and all, I don’t need you in my life.”
The Americana in her sound was there from the start. Her songs all start as country or folk before she adds punk rock influences.
J.R. released her debut single “Be My Man” in March. She enlisted friends from The Dirty Nil to help produce her debut EP, slated to come out this year. Watch the video for J.R.’s debut song “Be My Man” and read the full interview with the musician below.
J.R., “Be My Man”
BTRtoday (BTR): I LOVE that red fringe snap shirt you have on in your photos. I’ve noticed a resurgence of old-school country style in music and fashion. What’s your take on country music making its way back into the limelight? How do you think it’s shaping today’s music?
Julianna Riolino (JR): Everyone needs a sharp red fringe snap shirt.
Old school country music has always influenced my songwriting and style. When I write songs, they often start out within the spirit of a country song, akin to Dolly [Parton], Loretta [Lynn] or Patsy [Cline], some of the women I have always idolized, listened to and whose lyrics and melodies I have picked apart.
“You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man” [by Loretta Lynn] is my go-to karaoke song. It makes me feel like a woman who isn’t going to take any guff and who won’t ever be put in a corner. The country greats deliver songs that are genuine in feeling and concise in delivery. All qualities I value in music and in human beings.
Classic country has always been in my limelight, and maybe that’s because it’s just fundamentally great.
BTR: You also grew up listening to ’70s punk, which is also something I’m obsessed with. How does punk influence you?
JR: It’s the same sort of vibe as old school country, you know? A little bit of attitude, and genuine sass—not willing to bow down and be steamrolled by whoever is trying to feed you rules and regulations or contain your natural being. I was next level infatuated with The Buzzcocks and listened to “Love Bites” front to back every day on my way to school. It’s a perfect mix of heartache and vulgarity. Ross Miller of The Dirty Nil played on and helped produce my EP and when we started developing “Be My Man” in the studio. He came in and ripped that lead and perfectly captured, in my opinion, that Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, ESQ vibe. It made me smile real big.
BTR: Let’s talk about this new single “Be My Man”—any real-life inspirations behind it?
JR: I wrote “Be My Man” to a hater as a plea to let go of the past and love unconditionally. It was inspired by a total loser, to be honest. At the time I thought I wanted that feeling of love to be reciprocated. Turns out I really didn’t. If you don’t love me for who I am, flaws and all, I don’t need you in my life. You live and you make mistakes and you learn, and sometimes those bad experiences turn into cool songs to play live.
BTR: You say you’re into religious symbolism, which I also find fascinating, but that’s because I was raised atheist. I’m curious, with your connection to spirituality, why does religious symbolism interest you?
JR: My interest in religious symbolism stems from my background in stained glass restoration. I was raised in a religious home but would definitely say I am not religious in the traditional sense. I am spiritual and connected to what the images represent. I worked as a glazing apprentice in Toronto, and have been lucky enough to spend time in Europe absorbing the history of some of the oldest forms of art and culture contained within cathedrals. Religion is full of symbols and stories that represent and remind us of humility, kindness and sacrifice—all qualities to keep everyone motivated to be a better person on this earth.
BTR: You’re working on your debut. Tell me a little about it.
JR: It’s a five-song EP compiled of songs I wrote when I was dating the wrong people and figuring my life out. Sounds pretty cliché, but it’s true. Recording with Dan Edmonds, Ross Miller and Jason Bhattacharya was such an amazing, heart-filling experience and I feel so blessed that all these men entered my life. They helped me get my groove back. We made it with love, and put each and every one of our personalities into it, and we all just meshed so well. So, I just hope that people hear that and dig it.
BTR: What should we be keeping an eye out for in the future of J.R. Auteur?
JR: More releases, new songs and videos. If ya wanna keep updated follow me on my Instagram—that’s usually where I am most active (@salty_tears__).