July Jones is on track to become Slovenia’s No. 1 popstar. Jones’ native country occupies a small corner of Eastern Europe; it’s best known for its dramatic scenery and for having some of the best ski resorts in Europe. While Slovenia is certainly an enchanting place to live, it’s worlds away from the mainstream music industry. “The name of my first album, ‘Silly Little Dream,’ comes from being an immigrant and having this dream of becoming an artist,” Jones says. “I grew up in Eastern Europe and when you grow up in a country that doesn’t really matter to the world, it’s really hard to believe in yourself. There’s no market for you and no one to represent you. The only person we have is Melania Trump, who’s very much a stereotype of Eastern European women. I wanted the title to say that I had this dream that was silly, but now it’s a reality.”
Slovenia may not be known for pop music yet, but Jones is actively working to change that. She came to the United States when she was 16 with her heart set on becoming a jazz singer, hoping to emulate the likes of Aretha Franklin and Etta James. “I never thought of myself as a pop artist,” she says. “I got a scholarship at the Berklee College of Music and I was supposed to study jazz for five years, but then I realized I didn’t want to be 24 and graduating from jazz school. So I declined the scholarship and moved to London because you didn’t need a visa at the time. [London] is an amazing hub of all of these international artists and I thought, ‘What a great city to be in.’ It’s shaped me a lot.”
Songwriting allowed Jones to get her foot in the door of the notoriously difficult industry, and she was able to excel early on, writing songs for Eurovision and K-pop supergroup BTS. “If I write for an artist, it starts with getting to know them and it’s very intense because they have to tell you their personal issues even if they don’t know you,” Jones says. “It’s like having therapy with a stranger every day. I especially love writing with women because I feel like they have so many stories and it’s beautiful to bring an emotion out of someone. Then to put out that song, it’s just magic.”
When it comes to writing her own music, Jones takes a different approach. She tends to be much pickier and goes a more direct route when crafting her lyrics. She’s not your typical pop artist, preferring to emulate the elaborate storytelling styles of Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar. “Silly Little Dream” is not just her debut album, it’s the first installment of a planned three-part series. “Over the last couple of years I’ve dedicated myself to this project,” Jones says. “The first part is the birth of ‘Silly Little Dream’ and it’s an introduction to the music I make. The second and third parts will be 17 songs all together, which is quite a lot. It’s really exciting because I finally get to introduce the world to what I’ve been trying to write for so long.”
Jones starts off “Silly Little Dream” with the single “Butterflies,” the spark to this entire project that she wrote in 2018. There’s also “Aladdin,” which had its own moment on TikTok, and “Air,” which relies more on melody and brings a deeper emotion to the album. Then, we have “Girls Can Do Anything,” her anthem to the women of Slovenia.
“I wrote ‘Girls Can Do Anything’ to represent Slovenia in Eurovision and I think it’s a great song to show what I think of the modern woman,” Jones says. “My friend, who I wrote for in Eurovision last year, was like, ‘You have to do this for yourself and we need to show this kind of representation in our country.’ I’m so grateful that a lot of women can relate to it and it bluntly says a lot about being an immigrant woman. It encourages women to go for it, be true to themselves and live the way you want to—especially if you’re from a conservative country.”
Jones’ career may still be in its infancy, but her fanbase is already ride or die. Even before her debut album was released, there were July Jones tattoos popping up. “I sign people’s boobs on tour, it’s my thing,” Jones says. “Now people have started to get it tattooed and that feels so cool. I never imagined someone wanting to have my signature on their body, especially on their boobs because that’s really in your face. My partner also has my signature on their ass.”
In just a short time, Jones has proven that if you have the talent and the work ethic you can make your silly little dream come true, even if you’re from a country that “doesn’t matter” in the eyes of the music industry. In doing so, she’s opened the door for others, and there’s no going back.